70% of comments on US health insurers across social media are negative; click to enlarage

International health insurers and banks get little love from social media, according to a recent report from Amplicate, which monitors topics and opinions across social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Amplicate found 70% of all opinions expressed on US health insurance companies over the last 12 months were negative.

Aetna earned the unwelcome distinction of most hated insurer. Only 9% of users expressing positive views of the company in the last year. Believe it or not, however, the industry has actually fared worse on social media in the past.

According to Amplicate, in January 2011 85% of comments on health insurers were negative–a result of insurers raising premiums in the face of the economic downturn.

Health insurers can perhaps rest a little easier knowing they are not quite the most reviled industry on social media. That distinction (unsurprisingly) falls to banks and financial services firms.

Social media users hold banks in even less esteem than insurers; click to enlarge

US and European banks tracked on Amplicate have a disapproval rating of 88%–in the last month Goldman Sachs has topped the list of most hated banks, followed by Bank of America. The latter had irked customers with its decision to impose monthly fees on debit card users. Santander and ING rounded out the list of social media’s most disliked banks.

The Amplicate data seems to justify many mangers’ reluctance to embrace new media, particularly in the abovementioned industries. it also reinforces the value of social media as a barometer for customers’ opinions. As Amplicate has shown, peaks and troughs tend to correspond to industry newsflow.

It remains to be seen whether these industries can develop a social media strategy effective in repairing their reputations with expat and local customers around the world. If one thing is certain, it’s that social media isn’t going away.