Most people would agree that TurboTax, Intuit's tax-preparation product, is decidedly unsexy. And only relevant during a fraction of the year. So it would seem that the digital team at Intuit wouldn't have an easy task when charged with building brand affinity for a rather boring product across its social graphs year-round.
As a result, TurboTax's social strategy centers on putting innovative twists on the strength already at the center of its overall online strategy: a mix of expert advice and content created by the customers. At the foundation of this content strategy is the TurboTax blog, which is updated several times a week with posts such as "In Search of a Job? Your Job Search Expenses May Be Deductible" and compelling infographics that explore tax-related trends such as soda taxes. The company also hosts a Q&A forum called TurboTax Live Community, a robust user-generated platform with more than 700,000 tax-related question-and-answer pairings.
"Because taxes can be difficult and intimidating, people are looking for help," said Dan Bishop, social and emerging platforms lead at Intuit. "We look to our content as closing the knowledge gap."
That two-pronged approach of expert and user-generated content also carries over into the strategy around the two most popular mainstream social channels: Facebook and Twitter.
During tax season, the TurboTax Facebook Page streams live video of a CPA answering questions that viewers can send in both in advance and during the chat. By "liking" the TurboTax page at any time, Facebook users also get access to video tutorials aimed at giving individuals tips on how to get larger tax refunds. And to drive more signup, Intuit ran a massive Facebook ad campaign this tax season, buying 4 billion impressions throughout the social network.
"Many people have a Facebook strategy around increasing the fan base," said Mr. Bishop. "But we have a metric around why we do that : Our fans have a higher propensity to convert on our product."
This year, Intuit also tackled the challenge of keeping the brand top of mind through the summer. In late June, TurboTax launched a user-generated "Share Your Success Story" Facebook campaign aimed at getting customers to highlight their tales of tax-completion (and tax-refund) bliss. In return, Intuit will match the tax refund, up to $1,000, for the five entrants with the best stories.
When it comes to Twitter, Intuit carries out two different strategies simultaneously. The company uses the main @TurboTax account to link to its original blog content as well as other tax-related and social-media-related articles from around the web. The company then uses its @TeamTurboTax to answer customer questions, staffing up with dozens of employees during the height of tax season.
Most recently, Intuit has seen success with social sharing from within TurboTax. When customers finish their taxes, they are prompted to share their review through their social networks. In turn, Intuit has discovered that not many things are more powerful than a recommendation by a friend; these customer-driven updates published to Facebook and Twitter boast four times the clickthrough rate of an average banner ad. And once the user clicks through, they convert 30% more often than those who click on regular TurboTax banner ads.
"We believe our customers are our best salespeople," Intuit rep Colleen Gatlin wrote in an email, "and we want to inspire them and make it easy for them to share their tax triumph with their friends."
While the team continues to iterate its social strategy, Mr. Bishop has been pleased with past results. The TurboTax Facebook Page now boasts more than 58,000 likes. And the brand's combined Facebook and Twitter followings are three-and-a-half times larger than a year ago.