TurboTax welcomes freeloaders in latest social media endeavor

TurboTax's online services got a 37% jump in use last year, driven by its free tax preparation offerings that focus on simpler forms, such as the 1040EZ.

Objective: TurboTax's online services got a 37% jump in use last year, driven by its free tax preparation offerings that focus on simpler forms, such as the 1040EZ. This is the second year TurboTax has offered some free items, so it sought to build on their popularity. Its new “Freeloader Nation” campaign targets taxpayers in the 18- to 35-year-old range who might not have “really invested in a brand or solution,” said Scott Gulbransen, senior manager of corporate communications at TurboTax. “We're developing brand loyalty so that when they get married; have a child; buy a house; we have paid products that are more robust,” he added. “The average 18- to 24-year-old gets a $900 refund,” noted Julie Miller, director of corporate communications.

Idea: To reach this demographic, TurboTax partnered with MySpace; enlisted YouTube celeb Tay Zonday, whose videos have captured millions of views; and is using other outlets like Facebook and Twitter. “We've already established ourselves there,” said Gulbransen.

Tools: The MySpace site offers tax preparation tips and the chance to win prizes. TurboTax is also sponsoring five concerts with MySpace Secret Shows, a program that alerts users to free shows that are announced only 48 hours in advance. Zonday has uploaded a YouTube video for the song Freeloader Nation that was written for the campaign, and will participate in other aspects of the effort. There are also traditional PR efforts, such as media outreach to music titles, such as Spin Magazine, and personal finance publications. The campaign runs into April.

Measurement: It will calculate the number of consumers that use the free services and the level of social media engagement, both volume and the nature of the conversations.

Company: TurboTax
Campaign: Freeloader Nation
PR team: MS&L
Launch: January 13, 2009
Budget: Undisclosed

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