Social Media Lessons from the Big Brands: Intuit Edition

How a Big Company Does Social Media Marketing

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[ Social Media]

A recent survey from E-Consultancy, in association with the Online Marketing Summit, found that most businesses are still only experimenting with social media. With this in mind, it seems worth paying attention to how some big and successful brands use social media in their own strategies.

Are you still in the experimentation phase with social media? Tell us about it.

One company that is finding social media incredibly useful is Intuit, makers of popular financial software like TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Quicken. Seth Greenberg, Director of National Media Buying and Digital Marketing for Intuit’s consumer group answered some of our questions about how effective the company’s efforts are in social media.

Intuit actively participates on Twitter and Facebook daily, as well as YouTube, and some advertising with MySpace and LinkedIn. When asked if they focus on any network more than others, Greenberg says, "Currently, Twitter and Facebook are the focus because more than 50% of customers use it. Twitter offers a transparent, real-time engagement with customers and prospects on questions, issues or general comments they may have.  Through both networks we are able to provide relevant, timely and valuable information to consumers."

Seth Greenberg of Intuit tweets about having a Facebook strategy

We asked what ways the company participates. Intuit has employees all across the company that have a hand in the social media strategy, as it relates to their own roles. This covers everything from communications to marketing, and product people.

"TurboTax is very involved in social, as are other business units in the company," he says. "We recently launched @TeamTurboTax where taxpayers on Twitter can tweet questions to @TeamTurboTax and get fast, free answers from a team of tax, tech and product experts providing help and advice to make tax time easier. The account is managed by a cross-functional team of employees including those from PR, product management, marketing and support."

"In addition, there is a TurboTax Twitter account to also engage with consumers, but also provide tax tips, information, contests, etc," he adds. "We do have a Facebook page as you know and an interactive TurboTax Tax Break Blog, that includes the latest tax information, surveys and tips. Also, three years ago, TurboTax launched its Live Community, now used by more than 11 million people, to provide free instant answers from TurboTax users and tax experts online."

Intuit has a Turbotax Facebook page as part of its social media marketing strategy

We asked how Intuit is integrating its on-site (proprietary domains and products) and off-site social marketing activities. "The in-product experience with Facebook Share gives customers the option to share to their Facebook news feed, creating a network effect when they share a comment or post a review. We know that fifty percent of TurboTax customers are on Facebook," says Greenberg. "The Friends Like You campaign (which Gigya is a partner with) allows customers not only to post a review, but for anyone looking for 3rd party recommendations about what product to use and their experience, to see and sort through reviews from friends (in their network) or from people like them (based on similar tax situations). Also, our national advertising with NBC highlights the Friends Like You campaign and drives people online for a total integration from offline to online to product."

When asked what technologies the company has implemented to help it maximize word of mouth traffic, he says, "The work we do with Gigya, is an example of applying technology to connect to Facebook and Bazaarvoice with our customer reviews. Live Community is an in-house technology that leverages community, where TurboTax users and experts ask and answer questions.  It is free in all products, but also to anyone that has tax questions through our website.  These are some of the ways that also lead to great SEO results."

Intuit uses metrics like click-throughs, network effect of "pass alongs" (consider that average Facebook user has 150 friends), engagement and conversion (both of new versus existing customers). When asked how Intuit’s social media efforts have contributed to the company’s sales, brand loyalty, and web traffic, Greenberg says they’re learning that social can be a "very potent avenue to driving revenue, and even be more influential than other channels when applied the right way."

"We have very active and passionate customers. We see that with the Live Community, with our Inner Circle (an opt-in community where customers provide feedback, beta testing, etc) and the incredible amount of customer reviews we receive with an average of 4.5star rating," he says. "Social is a tactic to help drive traffic and is built in to many of the initiatives we employ (drive traffic to a specific link, like the blog or to TurboTax.com)."

Of course mobile factors into the strategy, even for a software company like Intuit. "Mobile is a key strategy for Intuit and figuring out where/when it is relevant for consumers.  We do have social tax apps, like TaxCaster (an app to help estimate your tax refund) and SnapTax (an app that allows CA taxpayers with simple returns to file a federal/state tax return from their iPhone)."

"We’re fortunate to have the passionate customers that want to express themselves and give us their feedback…Given the right tools/technology, our customers can be our best sales force (help to spread WOM).  Overall, we look at engaging with people in a way that adds value to them, providing them with the information they need to make the right decisions."

What do you think of Intuit’s social media strategy based on Greenberg’s description? Do you see ways that the company is using  social media that you could apply to your own business? Share your thoughts here.

Social Media Lessons from the Big Brands: Intuit Edition
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  • http://www.amplifiedanalytics.com Gregory (@pipzlchoice)

    Online customer reviews are also a great source of ideas for improvements of your products and services. Many successful companies, such as Pure Digital (recently purchased by Cisco) and Bose, use them to monitor, measure and manage their products reputation and improve their processes. Check the service at http://amplifiedanalytics.com for aggregation of customer reviews and measurement of reputation for Consumer Electronics products.

    However there is another, often overlooked, benefit of customer reviews to a savvy retailer. Low reputation products only defuse your customer’s attention, waste your advertising dollars, create an unnecessary cost to handle returns, and negative customer experience that retailer would likely share blame for. The cost of caring an inventory of the low reputation products is not even taken to consideration as many online retailers do not practice it.

  • http://www.adelaidefitnessonline.com/ adelaide fitness

    yes, i think a lot of businesses still don’t understand the value of social media yet, imho it’s a long term play not just something you do for a few days and expect results from straight away

  • http://www.superfloorcoat.com Concrete Floor Coatings

    Playing the social game is a plus for businesses & the customers. Building relations is the ultimate goal, perks that comes along is the word of mouth & seo linking (citations).

  • Lou Anne

    Companies who find success with twitter because they solve basic customer service issues are missing the true lesson of their success.

    Now that I know I can get some quick questions asked from Intuit by using Twitter, I just may use twitter to communicate with them because I cannot get this service if I use their phone or website. And do they really give tax information, because they don’t answer any of those questions on the phone or website.

    “We recently launched @TeamTurboTax where taxpayers on Twitter can tweet questions to @TeamTurboTax and get fast, free answers from a team of tax, tech and product experts providing help and advice to make tax time easier. The account is managed by a cross-functional team of employees including those from PR, product management, marketing and support.”

    Try getting fast answers from their non twitter support systems.

    Comcast has faster and better response via twitter than their other support systems, does this mean twitter is a success or does it mean they need better traditional support systems.

    JetBlue got a lot PR when a mommy blogger got a better answer from twitter than she did from the gate operator. If the gate operator could have answered her question then the only real benefit for twitter was that the mommy blogger could ask the question without waiting in line.

    The best use of twitter may be to find out what they can do better in their current support systems and make sure their lessons go back into a better overall business attitude.

    There is no jail mail in twitter. That may be its true benefit.10

    • Chris Crum

      I think there is certainly some truth to the notion that companies can learn things from their social media practices that can be applied to other aspects of their businesses.

  • http://www.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

    Yes, it is very true that most businesses are still only experimenting with social media. As this medium is relatively new and even companies who claim to be experts at this are also still novices.

    So, the guide and the guided are still learning from the social interaction which is taking place in the form of advertisements, information sharing, voicing of opinions, etc. on these social media sites.

    Mainly Twitter and Facebook are the 2 social media sites which are being used by the companies to inform the market segments about their new products or handle customer queries, comments or complaints.

    But, the success factor totally depends on how the whole thing is managed and the way the formal communication is carried on keeping in mind the customer or the prospective client in mind.

    Nevertheless, a very powerful platform for every company or individual to put forward their right image or brand reputation.

    Especially for celebrities who need not rely on journalists to write about them and they can interact with their fans directly. The best example is the Indian movie star Shahrukh Khan who interacts with his fans and colleagues and puts forth what he has to say without any third party intervention on Twitter.

    • Chris Crum

      Experimentation will likely continue indefinitely, simply because new social tools are introduced so frequently…as new ways to engage become available, they require testing.

      • http://www.webpro.in Bharati Ahuja

        Oh yes, and these experiments and trials will in future pave the way for a path which we can follow for using this media effectively.

        We can learn this only from individual case studies over a period of time after categorizing these social media accounts on the basis of companies, individuals, journalists, film stars etc. and then sub-categorizing it for which purpose they are using this media. For product promotion, brand reputation building, developing a bond with their fans, clarifying controversies, etc.

  • http://www.inetbrokerage.com ken

    I have been trying to find an effective free Social Bookmark syndication service but only have found onlywire in which seems to have a great model however only suceeds in submitting to 10 of 50 Websites. So I will need to search out a paid service.
    On the video side I have found tubemogul to work pretty good. I just submitted a video of a crazy Obama Fan and it has seems to be getting plenty of views so far. Although this might be because this Fan makes for a good subject for the video, just not sure yet. The video is for a client IvBenWtg4U in youtube.

  • http://www.NationalShowTickets.com NationalShowTickets

    Thank you for the insight on social media marketing, we use some of the ideas expressed in the article and find that the results have been favorable. I did gain a few more ideas so wanted to thank you for the insightful article.


  • http://ronaldredito.org/blog Ronald Redito

    I have been using social media marketing with my own websites and my clients’. So far, the response are positive and they said it is better than PPC advertising.

    However, still you need to interact with your customers. That’s the true essence of social media. You need to interact to make the presence felt. So far, the results are good. More clients are coming in.

  • http://www.shapirit.biz ????? ??????, ?????? ??????

    Where are those lessons?
    All I read in the article is about a company that already has ways to connect to his costumers but experiments with an external way to connect to them.

    I think that being published at social networks is another way to promote the company but it shouldn’t be used for costumers service.

    Tell my the “WHY” a person while WORKING should STOP WORKING and connect to some social network to get answers about his problems with the software?- no common sense in it.

    When you are stuck and need guidance with your software you cannot waste time looking for an answer thru posts, you pick up the phone and get the SERVICE in need.


  • http://marketing.howtoadvicetips.com infoperc

    … and it’s might and forsce ironically are even hidden in their full capacity to the one wielding it — us. Anyone who refuses to admit this is acting just as worse as all those who while pretentiously boasting some technology phobia principle based or whatnot, are simply covering up for the negligence they’ve been showing towards the way information technology especially the internet, web 2.0 and all that stemmed from there have changed drastically your societies, the way we interract, culture … civilization… indeed: one can only think for a moment, than awe … and hymbly embrace all that is our future, at the click of a mouse!

  • http://www.conspiracymediagroup.com/ Ben

    Integrating all sorts of content has become a huge deal — UGC, comments, video, photos, etc. All of this stuff living happily under one roof is something to wrestle w/, to be sure.

    Not applicable in every case of course. But as marketers, it is starting to come into play when coming up w/ solutions for clients.

    Companies like thisMoment are offering what they call a “channel”, for distributing across the big social platforms. They just launched a “channel” for the new movie “Kick-Ass”. Interesting approach (http://kickass.thismoment.com/)

    Interesting stuff. Thanks.


  • http://www.BuildIdaho.com Trey LAngford

    For a small business it is a great tool to market your company and although big businesses still have the ability to buy more at a lesser price, small biz can compete to targeted customers.

  • http://homesteadwebsitebuilder.com Intuit SEO

    The Intuit company recently acquired Homestead Technologies and has made dramatic improvements to their marketing plan. One of the things that they recently did for their customers was add a Facebook button to the Sitebuilder program. This was a great improvement for their users and demonstrates that Intuit understands the value of social media in marketing.

  • New media Gurl

    Great post!

    I noticed you called taxcaster as a ‘social tax app’. Isn’t tax refund information the most personal and least social information? Should we call taxcaster as a new media app, maybe? rather than a social media app?

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