Compare The Market is a large insurance comparison company, perhaps best known for their advertising campaign featuring Aleksandr the Meerkat.
We were surprised, then, to find that they only have 2340 followers on Twitter. On further inspection, it seems that Compare The Market have fully flung themselves into the world of their 'Compare The Meerkat' campaign, taking it much further perhaps than even they imagined.
If you're not familiar with this brand, Compare The Market is an online platform used to compare insurance products. Compare The Meerkat is a campaign revolving around a fictional family of Russian meerkats who have launched an advertising campaign to explain to people the difference between comparethemarket.com and comparethemeerkat.com. (Genius.)
Meet Aleksandr Orlov
Aleksandr is the real star of Compare The Market. Boasting over 67,000 followers on Twitter and over 870,000 fans on Facebook - this is where Compare The Market are directing the social media marketing efforts.
The interesting thing about this case study is that is goes against every preconception people have about using social media for brands. This Twitter account doesn't tweet special offers, doesn't link to the Compare The Market website, doesn't explain what they do and doesn't even mention the company name. This reaches far beyond your average social media campaign and permeates the whole company.
This didn't happen by chance though. The campaign would have required a lot of time, effort and money for it to reach this status. The meerkat campaign first came about at the beginning of 2009 and steadily grew in popularity until it became more well-known in 2010. This was after the launch of comparethemeerkat.com
A National Treasure...
To grasp an idea of how big the meerkat empire is, you just have to view their YouTube channel which holds numerous videos of the meerkats' lives and includes advert bloopers(?!). This is alongside their stuffed toys, autobiography, custom ringtones, smartphone app, a database of English phrases in 'meerkat' pronunciation, the list goes on...
The stuffed toys are given away by the company whenever you purchase an insurance product through their website. These are fetching up to £30 on eBay!
What Can We Learn?
While your company may not have the money to push such a huge marketing campaign, there are still points that we can all take away from the meerkats.
1. Create something that your audience will love
Compare The market appealed to the general public's love of a good story and developed a character which was easily recognisable (and, let's face it, loveable). We're not saying that this is right for every business, but you should think about what you can offer your audience other than your own voice.
2. Bring dull content to life
Insurance is dull. It's something that not many people think about for longer than necessary. If Compare The Market were to become people's first point of call for comparing insurance, they had to stand out (this is not something usually achieved through dull, factual tweets). By creating a fictional meerkat land around the company, Compare The Market drew people into the brand and into a place where they were more receptive to their key message.
3. Give a reason to stay engaged
Social media followers are consumers; if they feel that they have gained all they can from being your followers they will probably leave. This means that you need to give them a reason to keep coming back. In our case study, the lure of an ongoing story keeps people tuned in for the next instalment (like some sort of meerkat soap opera).
Growing your company's online presence can feel overwhelming at first, but if you can put your mind into that of your target audience and ask yourself "what value do I offer my target audience?" you will soon find yourself on the way to the promised land of high-quality social media engagement.
In the words of Aleksandr himself...Simples!