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Andy’s Answers: How American Family Insurance added Pinterest to its social media toolbox

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

American Family Insurance has 17 consumer-facing social media presences. While this might seem like a lot, Michelle Wingate, the company’s social media manager, acknowledged that this is small compared with some companies that have 200 to 300 distinct presences. That’s the reason when American Family Insurance was considering Pinterest, an emerging social media platform, it wanted to make sure the network was worth the company’s time.

Wingate explained that with fewer resources than the bigger guys, American Family Insurance thrives on seizing social media opportunities such as Pinterest and leading the way.

In her case study from’s BlogWell conference in Chicago, Wingate showed how the company adopted Pinterest into its social media strategy and what it learned about customers in the process. Here are a few key points from her presentation.

  • How the company assessed Pinterest: Wingate had a few questions she needed to ask: Was Pinterest relevant to the company’s goal of “Celebrating and Protecting Families”? How were its customers already using Pinterest? Wingate started by listening to customers’ concerns and to what employees who already used Pinterest had to say.
  • How the company built its presence: American Family Insurance is a company that believes in leading its online presence with an owned-media effort and expanding it with paid storytelling, Wingate said. The company started its presence with original content, homegrown ideas and campaign promotions. The company also added “Pin It” buttons to blogs and partnered with UW Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., for content sharing. The company found ways to make a seemingly chaotic platform fit a regulated industry.
  • How it engaged: The company found that its most popular board, “Protecting Your Dream Home,” fit well with the DIY, home-improvement and aspirational spirit of Pinterest users. Pins about protecting your basement from flooding, safe teen-driving programs and Internet security tips were big hits. Contest and giveaway pins were its other stars, so Wingate and her team continued to promote contests that resonated with people already using Pinterest, such as paid rent for a year or free trips to Sturgis.

You can watch her full presentation. Slides are available.

If you like this case study, see more great ones like it live at’s BlogWell conference Dec. 5 in Los Angeles.