Finder.comís Michelle Hutchison on unifying social and PR for the personal finance comparison site
Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for finder.com?Michelle Hutchison (MH):
I am the global head of communications at finder.com
. I lead finder.comís public relations teams in several countries across the world and help recruit and train these teams to be epic PR ninjas.SMP: Briefly, tell us about finder.com
finder.com is a personal finance comparison website, with a mission to help the world make better decisions. We donít just develop market technology with the best comparison engines and tools, we go deeper than any other comparison website. We listen to people and answer their questions that are often difficult to explain.
SMP: Who are your target audience and why?MH:
finder.com is useful to anyone with any banking product, looking to find a new credit card, teclo products and even online shopping coupon codes. Specific target audiences can vary slightly for example someone looking to transfer money overseas will want a clear breakdown of information and options
which is quite different to customers who are browsing to find ways to make their money go further. These sort of audiences are often more engaged with content like our ibag project which was designed to raise awareness about impulse spending.SMP: When was it founded, how many people work there and how it is funded?MH:
finder.com began as a student credit card blog in Australia called creditcardfinder.com.au back in 2006. It was founded by school friends Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia, who both solely own and operate the business. finder.com is self-funded with its profits heavily invested back into the company. There are over 120 staff, most of which are based at its HQ in Sydney, Australia.SMP: What regions does finder.com cover and why does it focus upon them?MH:
finder.com operates in Australia, New Zealand, America and we just recently launched in the United Kingdom. It all started in Australia and had a natural progression to be operating in our neighbouring country New Zealand. Fred and Frank have always had a dream of building finder.com into a global brand that consumers can rely upon in any country of the world. This is why weíve started to roll out this dream into the USA and the UK. We also started in countries that already have a market for comparison websites.SMP: What support do you have to manage communications and PR across these regions?MH:
I am greatly supported by the global executive team including both Fred and Frank. My main team is the global PR team and it is the support network for each PR team in each country but we all support each other, which serves the other teams in each country. The PR division are also supported by each countriesí content marketing team, where we collaborate on amazing projects together.SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?
There are never two days that look the same. I start my day early in the morning and usually have meetings in the mornings to speak to the regional teams, before other time zones clock off for the day. We discuss ideas and topics that we can cover and build campaigns to pitch to the media.SMP: What makes it a great job?MH:
There is nothing better than working somewhere when it doesnít feel like work. We have the most amazing culture where it feels like a start-up with an incredible buzz in the air in every office, yet we have the strength of our Australian business which supports the other countries. Our Sydney head office has exceptional perks such as a fully stocked kitchen with breakfast, drinks, snacks and lunches provided every day. The growth of finder.com means the opportunities for career development are almost endless. Itís also a flexible working environment and supports learning and development.
SMP: How did you initially attract users to site, social channels et al and how do you do it now?
It all started with a blog about student credit cards. It was an excellent page with a useful comparison and explained studentsí concerns. It was the only page out there so it received great, quality traffic from people who wanted to find out about student credit cards. We have always had the philosophy of building great pages that people need, and we create cool campaigns like videos, tools, Q&Aís and research, you can see an example here. This content is promoted through the media and our social channels. In Australia, we also do paid search and a major above the line TV campaign.SMP: What are the challenges that youíve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at finder.com?MH:
When I first started at finder.com a few years ago, it was quite an unknown brand to the Australian media but the crew were doing amazing things. So, it took a little while to build the brand awareness, that weíre a credible and trustworthy website which genuinely wants to help people in their lives.SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?
The high moments have been building amazing campaigns with so many people involved from all parts of the business and seeing the results of coverage from around the world. Also, being a part of the global team, helping to launch in different countries is very cool.
SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for finder.com?
Some of our Facebook pages are very successful, including our shopping page https://www.facebook.com/finderstyle, where we keep our followers up to date with special retail deals and promotions. One of the reasons why our shopping niche is so successful on social media is because itís very visual and itís something that appeals to people more regularly than financial products like a credit card or home loan. YouTube
is also a great channel for us because we can share our videos on our site using YouTube and share them socially.
SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?MH:
This changes in everyday due to the diversity of our products, geo
graphic markets and what campaigns we launch. We have been looking at segmenting our social channels into regionally specific ones because each market is so differentÖand awake at different times! We consider social very important but spend even more time focusing on the quality of our content as we know if we get this right the social stats and consumer loyalty follows. SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?
MH: Our biggest challenge is competing in a highly flooded market. There are many different types of comparison websites out there and most of them provide a bad user experience. We do things a little differently to our competitors, we want to help people make a decision and understand the products, rather than just serving up comparisons. This is what has made finder so successful to date and has great opportunity to bring finder to other markets like the United States
and the United Kingdom
.SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments?
finder.com is a website so building a brand presence in digital environments is super important. People are clogged with information-overload and there is a lot of competition out there, which makes it difficult to cut through that noise and reach the top of the list for people to see. We need to be creative and continuously improving our website with better content and new pages.
SMP: How does finder.com remain impartial?
When a user applies for a product or clicks on a coupon code on finder.com, we receive a small fee from the providers. Unlike some of our competitors who are owned by insurance companies, finder is 100% independent and we don't have any bias towards one product or another. This is a significant part of finderís value of empowering people. Users come on to finder, sort and filter their options and make their own decision. We don't have a pesky call center that tries to sell you things over the phone. On finder you are in control, it's your decision.SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding communications, content, and/or social for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
The most interesting trend over the next 12-18 months will be the move towards better quality content that ticks all the boxes: itís sharable, itís viral, itís unique and engaging. We have never been a brand into click bait but I see the social media channels and Google doing everything they can to wipe this out.
SMP: What are your top five predictions for communications, content and/or social media for the next 12 to 18-months and why?MH
- Communications and content marketing will blend together much more than ever before, because of the higher demand for quality content.
- Online content will be a major growth industry for jobs, where more journalists will make the transition from media publications to writing and publishing content on commercial websites. More and more companies are investing in quality content for their websites and it pays off.
- SEO will be integrated into communications much more, as the importance of websites for businesses grows
- Social channels will continue to be important for businesses to communicate with their customers, as itís proven to be a successful way to make public announcements, answer customersí questions and for customers to get help from companies
- More jobs will open for social media experts as businesses will invest further into these communication channels. Social media is proving to be a successful way to grow a customer base, loyalty and conversion.
SMP: What are your top overall communications, content and/or social media tips and why?MH
- Strive for perfection: Content and campaigns need to be exceptional, high quality, well written and thought out, with transparent methodology, resources and calculations.
- Invest in social media: have someone dedicated to responding to your customers and sharing content
- Learn about your industry: someone wise once said that your writing will be confusing if you are confused by the subject
SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that youíd like to share?MH:
We are a passionate team here and always on the look out for great people to build our teams all over the world. If you are looking for a smart, fun and dynamic team to work with please get in touch. SMP: Best way to contact you and Finder.com?MH: email@example.com
Now some questions for fun
SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?
Breakfast: a bacon and egg roll Ė it was Friday, why not! Lunch: Greek salad Ė balancing it out.
SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?MH:
I read my children books before they went to bed.SMP: If you werenít working at finder.com what would you be doing?MH:
I couldnít imagine life without working at finder.com. Iím in love with my job and weíre one big family.SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?MH:
We took the kids to Universal Studios Florida in September. Iíve always wanted to visit the Harry Potter section but I was blown away by Dr. Seuss World.SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?MH:
Grab a yoghurt and admire the view of the Sydney cityscape.SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?MH:
I already have a superpower! It is juggling an amazing job with a beautiful little family.
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