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Secrets of a Lucrative Social Media Campaign

How one unsexy company used social media to reach an entirely new, youthful customer base, and grew revenue 96%.

The challenge for HCC Medical Insurance, a $60 million specialty insurance company, was to find a way to connect to younger customers.

Since HCC sells supplemental travel medical insurance to cover people when they're abroad, the sweet spot would especially be backpackers and adventure travelers, but explaining to this group why they might want to purchase extra insurance would be tough. "Young people don't have a strong concept about the need for insurance which makes it a challenge to approach them," says Muhammad Yasin, HCC's marketing director.

On top of that, the Indianapolis-based company with 80 employees faces intense competition from far larger players.

The solution that Yasin and his team came up with in March 2012 was to create a social media campaign built around preparing people for adventure travel. The team built an interactive guide that included videos, text, and graphics about topics such as how to pack for a trip or how to test your adventure readiness score. HCC used content that depicted young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35, hoping that customers would recognize themselves. For example, two videos included in the guide, one of a backpacker and another of a skier, were both real footage provided by actual customers. "Our goal was to provide great information for travelers who, when they thought about traveling, would then think about us," says Yasin.

The guide was first released on the company blog in June 2012 and was then promoted through its Facebook site, Twitter feed, and email.

The results since then have been impressive: Traffic to the company’s Facebook site exploded, leading to an estimated four million people interacting with the adventure guide over just a few weeks, 90% of which were new visitors. Those visitors also stayed up to 50% longer--and the longer they stayed, the more likely they were to spend.

The extra "stickiness" helped propel a sales increase of some 96% since the launch of the campaign. That generated a tremendous ROI for Yasin's team, which spent about 2.5 months preparing for the launch.

"We learned that people have an expectation of how they want to interact with the company they're doing business with," says Yasin. "Rather than receive a hard sell, they want to know who you are and what you have in common."

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Last updated: Nov 12, 2012

DARREN DAHL

Darren Dahl is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine, which he has written for since 2004. He also works as a collaborative writer and editor and has partnered with several high-profile authors. Dahl lives in Asheville, North Carolina.




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