Innovate, Evolve, Tweet - An outsider's view of #BIBA2018

13th June 2018

Innovate, Evolve, Tweet

The annual BIBA conference is behind us for another year, but I’m not ready to forget all about #BIBA18 just yet. Reason being, I work in social media. Much of my trade happens at a pace and is very immediate – digital conversations happening in ‘real time’ as they do – but when people’s attention quickly moves on, that activity remains, and can be a rich source of insight.

While last month many of my DAS UK Group colleagues were coming down with a case of #BIBAfever, I was kept in deskbound quarantine, with a serious job to do. My task was monitoring the social media activity around the event, to work out what was happening.

By that I mean the key topics, the best speakers, the company who created the most interest – excitement even, and of course the fundamental question in my world, which hashtag would rise to the top.

As well as monitoring the event at the time, I’ve also now been able to revisit it in almost forensic detail thanks to our social listening capability.

This year DAS began using the social listening platform Pulsar as part of our digital transformation, to improve our strategic approach to social media. Broadly speaking we use it to support thought leadership activity, carry out market and competitor research and brand monitoring, and to assist us in winning new business.

I used it to monitor the BIBA conversation, and below are my high-level observations, by way of an outsider’s view on BIBA 2018.

Overall volumes

During the two main conference days, there were an impressive 3,700 posts by over 1,100 unique authors. This is in addition to almost 2,000 social posts in the run-up to BIBA (from 1st May) where people really seem to jostle for position ahead of the big day.


As a social media marketer, you would normally expect to see social conversations for events like this increase year on year, but I found to my surprise that this wasn’t the case. The numbers showed that BIBA2017 had almost a thousand more posts than this year’s event.

Looking in from the outside you might be forgiven for thinking that this was due to the keynote speakers - with 2017’s line-up ‘boasting’ both Nigel Farage and David Cameron. Mentions for keynote and seminar speakers were, however, almost identical in 2018 and 2017.

So what was the difference between the two events?

During 2017’s conference, one tweet from Tokio Marine Kiln stood out, attracting over 400 retweets. The tweet invited people to ‘visit stand C38’ or ‘retweet’ for a chance to win a drone. Another post in 2017 invited participants to tweet using #partnerships to win a technology hamper.


These posts were by far the most engaging of the 2017 conference so you might have expected to see similar approaches to be rolled out during this year’s conference.

Neither company, however, embraced the same tactic this year; in fact, you’ll struggle to find a single reference to a competition you could enter by simply ‘retweeting’ during the two conference day.

Why? I’m speculating, but perhaps a temporary rise in social media traffic had no tangible business benefit for these companies so they dropped the tactic.

With the insurance industry favouring traditional face-to-face networking, the real key to success is getting traffic to your stand – by any means possible. This was reflected in the social media activity. All in all over a 3rd (39%) of all mentions made reference to a stand.

This might go some way to explaining why stand-based competitions remain a key theme of events like BIBA, with 8% of all BIBA tweets featuring a reference to competition and prizes. It might also explain why food and drink was a more popular topic than GDPR and Brexit combined!

Popular topics.png

Having a gimmick, some decent freebies, a giveaway, special guests, and of course an offer of sustenance (liquid or otherwise) are all a sure-fire way to raise your visibility at the conference.

CII anti-gravityCocktail

Whilst the freebies and frothy drinks are clearly excellent for the attendees, for those of us watching from the outside, the nature of the tweets make it hard to gauge key topics or get a feel for where insurer’s heads are at.

Whilst we all enjoy the colourful stands and comedy photos we also want to know what is going on, and social media has an unrivalled potential to carry messages well beyond the walls and timescales of an event.

So what was everyone talking about? A good place to seek out such information is normally the conference speakers.

Conference speakers

Key notes

I found that social media mentions during the keynotes were relatively few. Both this year and in 2017, the keynotes and main session speakers accounted for less than 500 mentions – which might sound like a lot, but given the high standing the likes of Inga Beale and Martha Lane Fox have in the insurance world, and the fascination with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, you could be forgiven for expecting more.


Maybe BIBA delegates were just engrossed in their conversations, perhaps they aren’t nimble-fingered enough to live-tweet and operate a selfie stick simultaneously, or perhaps it was due to the scarcity of members holding a ‘golden ticket’ allowing them full access to the speeches.

The most likely reason I think is that the need to have a stand presence, and the real determination to network, network, network, outweighed the desire to attend the addresses and talks.

Referencing speakers and quoting from the conference is a brilliant way to increase your exposure, and as not everyone at the conference is able to attend the talks – your followers need you. It is also a great way to find like-minded connections on Twitter with whom you can continue to talk to after BIBA2018 (imagine that).

These speakers are often inspirational and their chosen topics of interest to a broader audience. Go get inspired – and share it on social!

Keynote themes – legislation

This year’s opening addresses went in hard on legislation, and, with both Brexit and GDPR looming this is probably inevitable. Steve White, Chief Executive of BIBA talked of a ‘burden of regulation’, whilst Lord Hunt and Natasha Kaplinksy both talked about a ‘busy legislative agenda’. And not to be outdone, the FCA’s Andrew Bailey discussed compliance and GDPR in his speech.


Boy, topics like this really get you in the mood for the rest of my conference coverage, don’t they?!

Keynote themes – innovation and insurtech

Spending the whole conference talking about forthcoming legislation was, thankfully, not the only thing on the menu for BIBA delegates, who would have been pleased to see the conversation turning to innovation and technology.

And that was the theme that resonated throughout all of the keynote speeches, fringe sessions and stand conversations; there seems to be a genuine desire to innovate – or at least talk about it.


Steve White shared the news that BIBA was setting up a ‘dating agency’ to connect brokers with insurtechs. He also talked about the need to demystify tech.

Then on Wednesday afternoon it was Inga Beale’s turn to talk about technology in the industry, highlighting a need to diversify talent in the insurance sector.


She also shared her view that there was an ‘innovation gap’ between insurance products being offered and the risks faced by customers. This was a sentiment echoed by Martha Lane Fox on Thursday who called for a ‘focus on the end user’ and the need to be ‘digital by default’.

Jonathan Swift

And during the final keynote of the day, Commander Hadfield talked about an 'audacity of vision’ and also the need for ‘planning and adaptability’ – for him this was an unscheduled spacewalk, for BIBA delegates it might be adapting social media outputs to engage in the topics coming out of the conference talks.

Chris Hadfield

None of this, of course, is surprising given the ‘innovate, evolve, thrive’ theme of the conference.

With everyone apparently innovating and the love-in for insurtechs at BIBA, that noise carried over into social media. In addition to the messages coming out of the keynote speeches, throughout the conference there were a plethora of tweeters using #Insurtech – but for no obvious reason and using no specific examples.

Despite the lack of specifics, the social media data suggests that the most prominent innovation and tech topics at BIBA were big data, cyber insurance, blockchain, and IoT.


Final thoughts

With BIBA being one of, if not the biggest event on the UK insurance calendar, companies spend a lot of time and money planning for the event, and their stand is intended as a representation of their brand; who they are, what they offer, what the future holds for them and their customers.

And BIBA does offers a great platform to get a message out. The tricky thing is that exhibitors are competing for attention with over 200 other stands, and even with the best cocktails and competitions, it’s unrealistic to expect to be able to speak to everyone on your wish list.

I believe that if your focus is about getting footfall to a stand, by under-using social media you are missing a trick. Think about the people who didn’t make it to your stand; and more than that, people who weren’t able to attend the conference; the #BIBA2018 hashtag is a brilliant place to start and to reach these people.

Be active, be visual, be engaging, be specific, have an opinion and even have some fun. But most importantly of all, be sure to look outside of the BIBA bubble and don’t miss this chance to share your story.

A few take-outs for next year:

  • Networking might be king but using social media for BIBA is a worthwhile investment and can create memorable content which can help you to stand out from the crowd.
  • Ensure you have feet on the ground - getting out and about at BIBA leads to increased engagements.
  • Do some ‘heavy lifting’ before the event, using scheduling tools like Hootsuite to free up your busy team.
  • It doesn’t take much to be a top tweeter at BIBA and 20-30 posts per day should see you in the top ten. This should be easily achievable if you combine networking with commentary from seminars and talks.
  • Be specific, tell your story – tweeting ‘#insurtech’ does not make you an innovator, and it could even end up undermining you.
  • Keynote speakers are a good yardstick to measure likely topics and themes.
  • And if you want to get traffic to your stand – bring refreshments!

See you later innovators. #BIBA2019

I believe that if your focus is solely about getting footfall to a stand, by under-using social media you are missing a trick.

Josh Gater

DAS UK Group makes significant investment in E-Trade for brokers

Ahead of BIBA 2018, DAS UK Group has announced a significant investment in its E-Trade capability to support brokers with the sale of commercial legal expenses insurance.

May 2018 Learn more
3 tips for winning with Alexa

Our Head of Strategy & Innovation at DAS UK Group shares some hard earned experience about developing and launching your own Amazon Alexa skill.

February 2018 Learn more
Insurance industry facing challenges to improve understanding of legal expenses insurance

A survey of 250 UK insurance brokers by DAS UK Group, the UK’s leading legal expenses insurer, has found that the insurance industry is still faced with challenges when it comes to the understanding and selling of legal expenses insurance.

October 2017 Learn more

More insights from DAS UK

ATE , 2020 MIB v Lewis: A Legal Landmark

Rebecca Squires, ATE Technical Supervisor, DAS UK Group looks at the landmark MIB v Lewis case. DAS UK provided Thompsons Solicitors, which acted for the claimant, with its ATE Personal Injury product to help fund the case…

August 2020
LEI news insights , ATE , 2020 We can all do more to help clients and customers

Alison Whitcombe, Propositions Manager at DAS, looks at how the ATE industry can do more to help clients and customers.

August 2020
What you need to know about the proposed motor legal reforms

The long-awaited motor reforms to civil litigation have been postponed until April next year. We asked a senior personal injury solicitor – DAS Law’s Miquelle Groves – to take a look.

July 2020
LEI news insights , 2020 ABC v St George’s Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: The Repercussions for Clinical Negligence

Jane Harper, ATE Technician, DAS UK Group looks at the ABC v St George’s Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust case which will have huge repercussions for clinical negligence.

July 2020
Products , 2020 DAS UK Group wins Simply Business partnership

DAS UK Group, the UK’s leading specialist legal expenses insurer, has announced a partnership with Simply Business, one of the UK’s largest small business and landlord insurance providers.

July 2020
LEI news insights , 2020 LEI: the UK’s most important insurance cover?

Legal expenses insurance has a major part to play in giving people and SMEs everyday peace of mind, now more than ever before.

June 2020
LEI news insights , ATE , 2020 2020: Predictions for ATE and law

2019 was another interesting year across the clinical negligence, civil litigation and personal injury sectors. We asked some of our ATE team and solicitor partners what their predictions are for 2020…

January 2020
2019 2019: What are you doing for Christmas?

We asked some of our ATE team and solicitor partners how they will be spending their respective Christmases.

December 2019
LEI news insights , 2019 , ATE 2019: Achievements, fears and tech in law and ATE

We asked some of our ATE team and solicitor partners what their achievements were, what their fears are, and what they thought of the latest technological developments.

December 2019
LEI news insights , 2019 , ATE 2019: The highs and lows in law and ATE

It’s been another interesting year across the clinical negligence, civil litigation and personal injury sectors. We asked some of our ATE team and solicitor partners for their thoughts on 2019.

December 2019
Events , 2019 , ATE APIL to Swallow

DAS UK Group’s ATE Business Partnership Manager Fran Clothier shares her thoughts on this year’s Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) conference in Brighton…

October 2019
LEI news insights , Innovation , 2019 DAS and Goodlord launch new Rent and Legal Protection policy

DAS has partnered with property technology company Goodlord to launch a new Rent and Legal Protection policy for Goodlord customers.

September 2019
LEI news insights , 2019 , ATE West & Demouilpied – What now for the ATE market?

The recent court decision of West & Demouilpied was a potentially huge moment for the ATE market. David Brown breaks down the potential impact on ATE premiums and more.

August 2019