TurboTax: TurboTax and Social Media — Live from BlogWell

2:10 — Andy Sernovitz introduces TurboTax’s Social Media Marketing Manager, Christine Morrison.

2:11 — Christine: When I tell people who don’t do what we do, what I do, they tend to think, “Oh, very sad…” because, how sexy is taxes? But there’s so much richness there, there’s so much we can do.

2:11 — Christine: Intuit is a house of brands, if you will. We’re a leader in every category we’re in.

2:12 — Christine says the first thing she often gets asked is, “How long have you been doing this?” She explains that it’s an emerging area. She says that Intuit, who has been around for 25 years, was really built on the concepts of social media.

2:13 — Christine explains the “Follow me home” principle that they’re built on — and that they actually go home and watch people do taxes.

2:14 — Christine explains their main idea behind social media is that it allows them to build a persuasion engine that allows them to acquire new customers and keep existing ones.

2:16 — Christine explains their original move into Facebook was guided by Andy Sernovitz’s teaching on asking customers to talk about you. She says one of the naturally occurring things they see people doing every year is the delight they experience when they finish their taxes. Intuit takes advantage of that “yippee” moment by institutionalizing that experience into the product experience: At the very end of customers sending their e-file, they’ve added a spot for customers to announce they were done by publishing it to their Facebook News Feed.

2:17 — Christine says they’re measuring the “Publish to News Feed” by measuring direct postings as well as broader influence. So far, they’ve gotten exciting results: A news feed publication is four times more impactful and engaging than a banner ad — and has a 30% higher conversion rate.

2:20 — Christine explains how they really have one product and a ton of reviews — compared to Amazon having millions of products with just a few reviews. This year, Christine says they decided to try to make the most of the volume they got and to make the reviews more relevant to the readers.

2:21 — Christine talks about how they’re organizing reviews to allow customers to search for those from customers like them. They’re posting these on their website and leaving all of them publicly available — good, bad, and ugly — and only editing for profanity.

2:22 — Christine explains all of this is a goal to model the naturally occurring conversation to help people find recommendations from friends.

2:24 — Christine: If you were on Yahoo! during Superbowl Sunday, you may have seen this. [Christine shows how they took over the Yahoo! homepage and included a bunch of social elements.]

2:26 — Christine: Any time you get into TurboTax online, if you start the product, a window populates on the right-hand side. Christine shows how they feature the top answers to questions related to the page visitors are on. Christine: We’ve got a little under 1,000 people who work at TurboTax, and they all help with it.

2:27 — Christine: We’ve got 100 super-users. The most active user — a retired CPA — answered 50,000 questions in a year. More than 5,000 customers have viewed his content.

2:29 — Christine: This year we wanted to crack the nut of all the people talking about us in January – April on Twitter. Christine says they’re starting to launch the capability to help people when they have issues with their product through Twitter.

2:30 — Christine: It’s a journey. God knows we’ve had our challenges. Success though, I think, is more of a journey than a destination. We’re all delighted to be here and make connections with all of you and learn about your journeys as well.


Q: Justin Foggarty with Ariba asks, “How are you helping people with their questions on Twitter?”

A: Christine explains they’ve partnered with an analyst to find people across the enterprise who had 1) Great knowledge and 2) Great communication skills. Christine and her team worked with these people on a one-on-one basis and got an early buy-in. They’ve set up CoTweet to help them monitor the conversation and manage who should respond.

Q: Andy asks, “How have you implemented your social media / word of mouth marketing training program?”

A: Christine says that just this year they’ve updated their policy to now directly reflect social media — but they’ve had some sort of policy for more than four years now. The teams travel to Mountain View and have crash courses to learn how to engage. They sit down with lawyers and then these people go back out and are the ones who train their teams.

Q: HP asks, “How do you encourage customers to create content for you?”

A: In no case do we give them anything. Typically, it’s people wanting to do nice things for the greater good. When we first started our live community, there was very little encouragement for a super-user to help. A special “room” has now been built to help super-users talk to each other, and they’ve created a leaderboard and rolled out a points system.

Q: Denise from PacSun asks, “How do you work with vendors within social media, and how do you handle outsourcing issues?”

A: Christine: When I first started five years ago, I actually built the first inner-circle website myself. I didn’t have a budget, I just did stuff. There’s ways to be scrappy. I think when you’re in a big business, it goes against your morals in a way, but there are ways to be scrappy.

Q: Andy asks, “How do you deal with moderating the quantity of reviews you get?”

A: Christine explains how they work with BazaarVoice, and how they have two levels of human moderators. The human part is the most expensive part, Christine explains. Today, TurboTax filters out words — and she explains they’re the beta testers for it with BazaarVoice.

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