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For consumer industries such as fashion and retail social media is now a central part of their marketing strategies.

But for other businesses, the benefits of social marketing are less obvious and the tactics are more experimental.

Insurance comparison site Confused.com might not jump out as an obvious example of a brand that you would expect to invest heavily in social, but in recent months it has unveiled several Facebook apps and launched a Pinterest competition.

To find out more about Confused.com’s social strategy and how it measures success, I spoke to head of content and PR Sharon Flaherty...

What are your goals for social? Are you trying to drive traffic to your site, improve brand awareness or something totally different?

I’m treating social media like a way of testing the boundaries. It allows you to try new ideas and be creative. 

In terms of why I’m ramping up social activity at Confused.com, there are a few reasons. One is that it is an alternative way to drive new visitors to the site and one that doesn’t rely on email. 

Social also allows me to reach new audiences with our content that may not have engaged with the brand before, so there is an awareness piece but of course it’s also about conversion and, equally important, the social signals it gives to search engines.

How do you measure success? Have you been successful so far?

Success is delivering something you’re excited about and that feels different and creative. I know when I’m not happy with something and largely that is if it isn’t talked about. 

So when measuring success, I hope to see people talking about what we’re doing, have we got any ‘firsts’ in the social media world, did that campaign pull in lots of traffic or lead to an increase in conversions? 

Views, traffic, shares, links and conversions are all signs of success. If I use this as a benchmark, then I would say we have been successful. 

We were the first brand to use YouTube Slam and were recognised for that, I think that was a success. 

Do I feel I’ve smashed it? Not at all. Having a campaign go viral in the true sense of the word generating millions of views would be great and something that is on my to-do list!

We’ve seen you launch a number of Facebook apps. How effective are these in terms of attracting new fans and increasing engagement?

Our apps are attracting a particular segment of the market, by design. 

But engagement is really what we’re after, because this is what matters to Facebook and gets you into news feeds. 

Delivering fun apps through Facebook, on top of the other content we post - such as video, pictures and infographics - means we have a wide range of content types which in turn helps our EdgeRank.

What are your current aims for Pinterest? 

At the moment we’re keeping Pinterest ‘alive’, but I’m looking to test another platform before investing a lot into Pinterest. 

There’s a lot going on socially and now is the time to try and then refine what works best for Confused.com.

How important is social compared to other digital channels (e.g. search and display)?

I’m an editor so I’ll always love anything to do with content and favour that! But I really think the importance of social should not be underestimated. 

In my opinion, the problem with social though is that a lot of brands think it’s almost frivolous, not the place to deliver serious messages. But I think it’s the place to invest and intend to keep doing so. 

You mustn’t forget though that social and search aren’t mutually exclusive, the two marry up.

How big is your social team and which department does it sit within?  

I don’t have a social team per se! The in-house content team do social and are giving it our best shot.  

We of course outsource some bigger projects and app builds etc., but all social marketing activity sits in the Confused.com editorial team.

David Moth

Published 16 July, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Blog Editor and Social Media Manager at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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