Social Media Lessons from the Big Brands: Intuit Edition

    March 9, 2010
    Chris Crum

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"

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.