How Innovation Helps Intuit See Massive Social Success

How Innovation Helps Intuit See Massive Social Success

Lauren Thomas, Senior Manager of Communications & Social at Intuit Consumer Group, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss how Intuit makes tax content fun and engaging.

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Full Episode Details

The Tough Job of Making Tax Content Fun and EngagingHow Innovation Helps Intuit See Massive Social Success

Tax and budgeting are, by most people’s books, not the most interesting topics to hear about on social media. And yet, Intuit has managed to create content on social that’s fun, engaging, and educational.

This is thanks to the work of Lauren Thomas, Senior Manager of Communications & Social at Intuit Consumer Group, and her team. Lauren joined Social Pros to talk all about her work and how she’s brought innovations and big ideas to the team to drive its success.

We hear about Intuit’s ventures on TikTok and how it works with both personal finance and general lifestyle influencers to create engaging and relatable content. Lauren explains how Intuit has developed its light-hearted and fun brand voice to appeal to those who would usually shy away from hearing about tax.

In This Episode:

  • 4:16 – How Lauren manages to wear so many hats in her role
  • 6:10 – How Lauren uses social listening and the insights she’s picked up
  • 8:47 – Why the area of social you work in affects how you use social listening
  • 10:45 – How Intuit’s social media content changes throughout the year
  • 13:40 – Lauren explains how social engagement shifts depending on the time of year
  • 16:09 – How Intuit blends tax and finance content with lifestyle content
  • 18:46 – Lauren explains how Intuit used Cameo as a unique marketing push
  • 22:49 – How influencers help Intuit make serious tax topics engaging
  • 26:55 – Intuit’s social care team’s approach to protecting personal information
  • 34:02 – Lauren shares the story behind ending up in the Guinness Book of World Records
  • 37:54 – The challenges of getting leadership to understand your vision
  • 45:34 – Lauren’s top tip for those looking to become a social pro

Quotes From This Episode:

For a topic like taxes that can be so heavy, people have a lot of fear and uncertainty around it. So, how do we acknowledge that fear and anxiety and approach it in a way that's both empathetic but also engaging in a really fun way? Click To Tweet

“Part of the secret sauce is really thinking through what’s top of mind for consumers, how they’re feeling, and how can we connect with that in a way that’s emotionally engaging, and then present it in a way that’s a little more fun.”@HelloLT

“We always try to steer clear of kind of overly tax jargon.”@HelloLT

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Episode Transcript

  • This

    transcript was exported on Oct 28, 2021 – view latest version here.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • When

    my teacher was always used to say, you can take the train to crazy town, but you have to take the local. In other words, if you want a big idea of a little bit of crazy, you have to make a lot of steps, a love in a way, so people can follow the journey.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • So

    you can take the train to crazy town, but you have to take the local one of many soundbites from our guest today, who is the first on, just about everything. And probably the first in terms of the performance is of social pros podcast. This is a hot one. This is going to be an engaged when you’re going to get so much out of this discussion with Lauren Thomas, senior manager, communications and social for for Intuit. But what I love here is how she’s bringing together cleverness and creativity, but oftentimes at least what I’ve found, Anna is creatives. Typically don’t like to share. And she really talks about how she is trying to empower her team to be more creative, to put them in places where they have great success. She’s she is a leader and on so many different levels,

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Completely

    agree. I think we both literally could have talked to Lauren Thomas, senior manager, communications and social at Intuit all day long, Adam. She has so much great advice in this. So many great snippets, great pieces of information. I’m just going to jump right into it. I think we should just hear from her rather than, than spoil the episode with our intro. So let’s go ahead and talk to Lauren. But before we do, we have a couple of things we want to talk to you about first. Did you know that today 84% of marketers say customer expectations are changing their digital strategy. Despite the harsh challenges of the past year and a half, marketers have found innovative ways to connect with their customers and each other. The seventh edition of the state of marketing report from Salesforce presents the insights of over 8,000 marketing leaders across 37 countries.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • This

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  • Speaker

    4:

  • [Inaudible]
  • Adam

    Brown:

  • Lauren

    Thomas, senior manager, communications, and social for Intuit. We could not be more excited to have you on the show. We were talking a little bit about your long job description, paid and organic social blogs, leading influencer programs, reporting and analysis. Oh my goodness. You wear a whole lot of hats. How do you do it? How do you work on so many different things with your, a team,

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • You

    know, behind the scenes? It’s a lot of red bull and really long hours. The good news is I’ve worn a lot of hats throughout my career. I think in the past couple of months, we’ve done some shifts on the team and I’ve been able to scale down some of my responsibilities to focus on a few key areas. And in the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to grow my own working team and they lead a team of four social managers and I really developed, and I’m always working on the skill of delegating and also just working collaboratively, collaboratively with colleagues. So right now I’ve got another team member who is helping Fred blog content and other colleagues is really taking on a lot of the ownership, the influencer programming, which is really exciting. So given that I’ve had my hands on all of these things, I’m able to now really heavily support a lot of that work as I’m able, and it’s been a really good opportunity for me and also for my team as they continue to grow their skill sets and dive into their passion areas as well within social.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • Yeah,

    it’s it hasn’t been that long that that the world of social has been here. And the idea that we now have sub categories and sub specializations within the social pace really says something remarkable. I think about kind of what, what we do here. One of those areas is around reporting and analysis, listening, if you will. And I was really fascinated by kind of how you answered one of our pre-show questions, where you talked about how you watch social channels, pretty closely for patterns, for trends and actual insights. And I think probably almost all of our listeners are doing that at some level, but it sounds like you’re doing it in a pretty big detail. So I’ve got like two questions around that. How are you doing that? Who are you sharing the insights with? And I would love if you could give us an example of one of the insights that you were able to hear and then have action and take action upon.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    Atlanta in a couple of different ways. I think one, we do use these tools in a few different ways and they’ve got some different outputs for the reporting. So one as a company, Intuit is very consumer focused and we really do want to understand what is the voice of the customer? What are the customers saying about our products what’s happening in the category? What’s the conversation around our competitors as well and social. So we use social monitoring and listening for voice of customer reporting, and we’ll share insights around that with our senior leaders within the market, that our marketing team. And we have weekly readout reports, for example, during tax season on these VOC or voice of customer updates on what is driving the trends and conversation around our brand. If it’s, you know, certain people in the media or a certain key topics that are coming up and what’s driving conversation around our competitors, and we leveraged that also for insights, you know, do we need to take a look at maybe considering making an update in the product or how our messaging, something really leveraging those insights really help to inform decisions.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • And

    in addition to that, our team also looks at social to understand what is trending. So for that, we might use a social listening tool to see what the trends are, and that might inform that how we’re approaching content. It also informs community management in terms of how we’re responding to people in social in real time. And one fun example of that. For example, with TurboTax, it’s not uncommon early on, as you’re filling out your taxes, you’ve got to answer this question of, are you single? And some people in social will take a screenshot of the screen and product and say, gee, thanks for the reminder. So last year, a couple of years, we often will kind of play with that in our content. And we’ll share a meme or some kind of content alluding to you. You know, you may still be single, but at least we’re here for you.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • I

    smell a Bumble into it cross a cross-marketing potential here. That is that it’s very clever. I want to talk about listening for just one thing. And this is one of the things that I’ve, I’ve recognized even doing the show, and that is everybody, whether you’re a marketer or more of a communicator, and you may even see where I’m going with this Lauren and our listeners may too, we’re listening to analytics, we’re listening to performance and things like that. But when I talk to a social person, who’s kind of more sitting in the communications or public relations side of a business than the true advertising marketing. They seem to be more interested in the voice of customer and really more interested in condos. Other trappings that come with that, do you think where you sit in an organization and I’m not necessarily speaking about into it has an impact on how you social listening?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    believe it does. You know, it’s interesting. I have grown up in my career in social and I remember early on when brands got past the question of, should we be on this Facebook thing? There was often a battle of where should it sit is a part of marketing. Is it communication? I think in some companies it’s kind of an ongoing grab of who owns social. And I do think it does impact how you engage in social and what you’re listening for because in a lot of cases, different teams have different key metrics, right? So for example, we do have a team that sits within our marketing organization for the consumer group that does specialize in online advertising. And that includes paid social. And a lot of cases, their metrics are more performance driven bottom of the funnel conversion. Whereas ours are often really more top of funnel and we really want to be driving that high reach high engagement and that conversation and listening for it. So I do believe that where you sit can impact the key metrics that you’re responsible for, and then in turn what you’re paying attention to and optimizing against.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • I

    love how you break down all of the different ways that social listening really applies, because I think it’s really easy, especially social pros to get stuck into that mode of listening just for ourselves, but also just highlighting the importance of sharing it out to other teams and groups and showing exactly the value of all of this feedback. And I also imagine too, to stick with the TurboTax topic here, that the types of social listening and feedback you get on, say, I dunno, April 14th might be slightly drastically different than say, I don’t know, December 1st of the year before. Right. So I can imagine that, you know, especially with all of the ebbs and flows and the intense seasonality just how much that would inform at different times of the year, which actually leads me to the next question. So obviously, and again, still sticking with TurboTax. I imagine you have so much ebb and flow within seasonality and content and messaging. How does that actually look and how do you all engage people throughout the year? Because I know you start your messaging early. People don’t always start their taxes early. So what does that look like in terms of engagement throughout the year?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • That's

    so funny. A lot of people in fact, do not start their taxes very early. It’s funny for us TurboTax typically opens for the season in December. So that is when our starting line as an internal team kind of goes off, but our team has always really working year round and we’re not in season or prepping for season. And our, our social team on the con side is one of the channels that’s on year round. We actually are live on Twitter, sharing updates across social and our blog year round. So in the off season, one of our questions really is how do we keep providing value? Because at the end of the day, your taxes really are tied to your life, right? If you have a big life change, for example, you might’ve had a baby, you moved started a side hustle about our sold stock for the first time.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • There's

    all these life changes and they really have an impact on your taxes. So we try to think through what are people going through right now all year and providing proactive educational content to them around now all year round, even when we’re not in the midst of tax season. And then our, our volume of customer conversation really does shift a lot. So it’s lower, you know, when people are not in the midst of tax season, then during season. So we really do try to ramp up to make sure that we can be really responsive and then often increasing the, the cadence of our, our social, our paid social influencers during season, when it’s more top of mind for the average consumer. And then also we also have mint, which is a personal budgeting app. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a really awesome app. They do have kind of a heavy effing January when everyone’s like new year new, you need time for a new budget. But on that side, folks really are trying to budget or thinking I should get into this and setting it up and checking it out year round. And there’s always a lot of really great VOC and engagement around mint because of that, that product has so much brand love and advocacy among its users.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • That's

    fantastic. I, yeah, and I, I, I love like the new year new me approach. And obviously, so the first, let’s say the first quarter for you all is like just insane. I imagined with, you know, new year, new me, new budget, and then also, you know, tax season as well. How do you find that the engagement shifts do you find there’s so much more, you know, social customer care during specific parts, you know, you’d mentioned really making sure to be responsive. It especially responsive at specific times of the year, but do you find that there’s like a swing with customer support via social and you know, it kind of that pendulum swings a little bit throughout the year versus maybe you’re doing educational content and you don’t get as many questions then having to really swing and shift resources. What does that look like for internal planning?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    it’s funny, you mentioned the quarters, our fiscal year actually isn’t on the calendar year, so I’ve always got to do like a mental conversion of which quarters are we talking about. But if we’re talking about that January through March timeframe on the tax side, there’s a couple of really big peaks in season. So typically there’s a big peak around mid to late January, which is our first peak. There was a second big peak as you guessed it Ana around mid April to tax season. And then actually for those who file an extension, there’s also a third peak in October before the extended deadline. But a lot of people get their taxes done in those first two peaks. So we do typically we have a really awesome social care team and you know, they will staff up more for season. So December, January, we’re kind of ramping up to make sure we’re set for first peak and our, our team, our community manager to deal with more non care related feedback on social. We also do staff up a little more so we can be more responsive to the higher volume of conversation during tax season

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • Lauren.

    One of the things that I think you’ve done so well at Intuit is let’s, let’s be honest taxes and budgets, not, not fun. Typically you make it fun, the content you have and you share, make it fun and playful and approachable and all those things. I’m curious, kind of how you do that. What’s the secret recipe of it. And I’m also curious how you’re using video. And one of the things I’ve noted is you’re using video for certainly the, again, not that I’ve ever done this on April 14th, but you know, busily trying to scramble the, found out the difference between a 10 99 I and T and a 10 99, schedule a and watching a video about it. But you take that content, but you also have some more lifestyle and personal growth type content as well. How do you, how do you kind of bring all this together?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • It's

    funny, you asked that when I first joined the team here, I was recruited to join the team and I love doing the fun work. And I thought, is this going to be fun? But part of my goal was really to always make this fun, you know I’m a closet creative and I write. And one of the ideas or tips for writing is this idea of no delight for the writer, no delight for the reader. And I think that applies to social media as well. Like if my team’s not having fun with it the audience won’t really have any fun either. And for topic like taxes, that can be so heavy. People have a lot of fear, uncertainty doubt around that. It’s like, how do we acknowledge that fear and anxiety and how do we approach it in a way that’s both empathetic.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • But

    also engaging in a really fun way. So I think part of the secret sauce is really thinking through what’s top of mind for consumers, how they’re feeling and how can we connect with that in a way that’s emotionally engaging and then present it in a way that’s a little more fun. I think we always try to steer clear of kind of the overly tax jargon. You know, I’ll tell my team, like this is very much corporate robot speak. I want you to give me like real human speak. Like if you don’t talk to me like this, I don’t want to read it in the copy. So I work with a team really closely on that. And then when it comes to video, social has been shifting more and more to video in the past several years. And I think especially in the last year and a half, the rise of tick-tock even Instagram recently announced they’re no longer a photo sharing app. It’s all about the video. So I think we’re really trying to leverage videos more often in a more engaging way. I think there is a place for texts, only content and long form copy in the blog. But the question is given consumers are really into this snackable scrolling, you know, what’s going to really have people stop their scroll and engage, and we really try to present our educational information in different formats. So people really want to engage and come to our channel, totally learn and engage about a topic that you might avoid. Otherwise,

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Speaking

    of video, I have to ask about the Kenny G cameo video that was done for tax day or right before, because it is hilarious. It’s completely unexpected and it’s really brilliant. Can you just talk through how that came to be? Because first of all, also listeners everybody who’s listening, you have to go check out the cameo video. But Lord, please help us understand how this came to be whose idea this was. Cause I loved it. It was brilliant and hilarious.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • And

    I have to make a preface here to Lauren. We’ve been doing the show for almost 500 episodes, and this is the first time you are the first brand to ever note cameo as a social platform that you are using in nearly 500 episodes. So please continue. But I thought it was remarkable.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • Awesome.

    I love being first, so, so thrilled to be the first. And so that’s a really funny story. Last one was really interesting because I feel like the emotional tone of consumers, the culture really shifted throughout the course of the past year. So going into the season in December, everyone had been through a hard year in one way or another. And our, our TurboTax campaign earlier in season had a very different emotional tone. And so seasoned also got extended this past year, right? So typically in the U S task-based April 15th, the past two seasons, it got extended, which turned our, our sprint of tax season for our internal team. And so in marathon for two years in a row, and towards the end of this past tax season, our team really wanted to do a really big embassies and campaign. And we realized that there was kind of a shift in the field of the culture.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • There

    was this idea of vaccinations were right around the corner. Things are opening up again, and there was real excitement around this time of year around you know, shock girl, summer, hot back summer. And we really wanted to tap into that optimistic energy in that moment. So we launched an end of season campaign called turbo task called hashtag refund glow up with the question of how do you want to use your tax refund to glow up this year, given that for a lot of consumers the tax refund check is the biggest checkbook get in the year. And after a challenging year, everyone could use a little of a glow up, especially if we spent the whole past year in sweatpants and leggings, and maybe you’re putting on jeans for the first time in a year, and we really wanted to tap into that optimism.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    we, then once we have the concept with that, how do we bring this to life? So we launched a hashtag challenge on Tik TOK and cards and people to show us the before and after other refund glove transformation. And as part of it, we also wanted to bring in cameos to really have celebs, encourage people to glow up. Or in the case of the Kenny G video, we had him play kind of a chill song on tat state in case you are procrastinators, right? I’m sure you’re familiar with the task procrastination to really Sue their spirit with scent easy jazz. And that’s funny because the ideas kind of idea come up earlier in seasoning, whenever agency agency, team members has been really pushing for a Kenny G something for years. It was at that point, it honestly was a bit of a running joke with the team because she literally like let’s make it happen.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • Let's

    do it for years. And we finally were able to do with this year and we actually create the idea of cameo or other consumer group brand mint had launched a really great campaign earlier in the year. And they’d leverage cameo as a test for our team and they had such great results. We wanted to take that learning from that team and shifted over to tax and see how it worked for us as well. So given that we do try to approach things in a really fun way, we were thinking, well, how can we leverage cameo? It’s really engaged consumers in a really fun way, by both reminding them, Hey, deadline move is coming up. And then also making sure that we stay top of mind by having this really fun engagement play. That included cameo is one of our tactics.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • It

    is so genius and clever and makes me smile, just thinking about it. And then when you go and watch it, everyone, and we will have a link to it in the, in the show notes. You will smile again. Now, I don’t know if I would classify Kenny G as an official influencer capital. I have a social media program, but you are certainly using influencers on a variety of things. When you have an important topic. And again, we’re not talking about fashion here or the latest new car or phone you’re talking about. People’s money. That’s a serious topic. Talk about how you work with influencers, how you identify them and how you work with them. And I would love to also hear how you work with your other parties within Intuit, the marketing teams, the security teams, and all those types of things to make those things happen so successfully.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    love the influencer space. I’ve actually been in it since I started my career years and years ago. And it’s been really fascinating to me to watch that space evolve. And for us, you are right. It’s not exactly fast fashion or fast food or any of these more really obvious influencer plays. But the fact is like I mentioned taxes really are related to what’s happening in your life and as is budgeting. So we really do try to think through, you know, we’ve actually kind of done a lot of work this past few months to really look at and re-examine and think, how do we really want to grow and build this program moving forward? Because there’s such opportunity in the influencer space and it’s changing very rapidly and influencers can really play a role, so many different parts of the funnel. And we’re actually seeing on our TurboTax team that different teams within the company are using it.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    we have, I think the affiliate marketing team works with influencers. We’re seeing our display team, same thing, our brand team, same thing. So we’re exploring this question of how do we better collaborate, find efficiencies across the board with this work, but in terms of how we work with them, I really try to think through a couple of different areas, right? So the most obvious play with influencers and taxes or personal finance is a, the personal finance influencers. And that is a vertical influencer we do work with, but then we also don’t just want to be preaching to the choir. People who know they’ve got to follow these folks and get tips on their money because it really does apply to so many areas of your life. So we’ll often also work with lifestyle it’s the once or so mommy bloggers or people who have been through a big life change.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • We

    work with self-employed influencer is because tax and self-employed, there’s a lot of questions there. Same thing with investors in the past year, there was a huge increase in ever investors. It was the media with the whole AMC thing, the crypto emerging. So you really do try to think through, you know, what are the needs of our business, who are the key audiences we’re trying to connect with, and which are the influencers that are really talking about these topics and engaging these audiences, whether it’s people who got married in the past year, or are raising families or people who are already super into the personal finance and budgeting mine’s mindset. And as far as identifying them, we have a couple of ways. Most of our team honestly, are really pretty hands-on and we’ll be scrolling. I think some of us are those 2:00 AM Instagram scrollers or take Tufts scrollers.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • In

    some cases, our team will raise their hand and say, Hey, let’s consider these folks. We do have a lot of influencers reaching out to us as well, who use our products, use TurboTax, use mint, and we’d love to explore working with us. We also work with a third-party agencies to help us manage the ones who program. And a lot of times we’ll share a brief on what we’re trying to share, who we’re trying to target, and they’ll come back the table with recommendations. We also work with Tik TOK, but leaning in there, and I’ve worked very closely with their team to identify tick-tock influencers who are, had been a really great fit for our campaigns and our projects. And then, yeah, so it’s pretty involved

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • With

    the topic that you’re oftentimes talking about. The engagement with with consumers could very easily start getting into PII as it relates to support. So I’m curious a kind of how you handle engagement with, with actual consumers, how you can kind of, you know, Heisman or offhand that over to your support team, which I know you have, which have trained tax professionals, you know, all these things that we do not know, but also how do you make sure and how do you protect, you know, any information that goes, you know, that may miss it inadvertently kind of come across from a, from a consumer.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    we do have swim lanes in our, in our social community management. So we do have a really awesome social care team. And typically the question comes in, that’s very much related to a customer, a question or something the customer’s trying to achieve. Then those go straight into the queue for our social care. And they’ll typically take those to the em and shift things offline. So we can protect that personal information. As a, as a company, it’s deeply important to us to protect the security and privacy of our customers. And we definitely want to make sure that that’s reflected in, in the social space and how we provide social care to our customers. And then usually, typically we and our teams and channel we’ll just share more things that are not as sensitive. So if it’s just an engagement play and there’s no personal information, then those we will keep on channel and may keep public and just try to make sure we very quickly taking offline anything that would be more sensitive.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • How

    are you seeing consumer, not you in general, this might be your customer, consumer or customer care social team. Are you seeing questions and comments that require responses on the non-big three? I mean, the, the, the, the Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, where almost all companies have a pretty good tool and resource to be able to respond. Are you seeing interactions in Tech-Talk? Are you seeing any interactions on other platforms where you’re kind of having to kind of rethink how you do these things?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    think we do see some we’re starting to see some on Tik TOK and working with our, a lot of the tools I don’t think are really pulling in tech talk from moderation perspective. So we are working with our team to understand, you know, as we see growing trends and other tools, how might we best make sure that we’re able to resource to, to staff those? I think typically we’ll try to shift people to a channel where our team is staff or social care, but it’s an evolving conversation. You know, I think a couple of years ago, this wasn’t a question for Instagram, right? It was just Facebook and Twitter and Instagram has been a growing channel for customer care questions as well. So I think that’s just an ongoing conversation that we’re having to monitor. What channels are we on? Where are we seeing these questions come in? How is our our care team currently resourced?

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Speaking

    of evolving channels and tic talk, you recently just spearheaded into its first ever Tik TOK hashtag challenge. And Adam had mentioned that you were the first guest and it 500 episodes of social pros talk about cameo. So let’s talk about the other first of this hashtag challenge, because as you had just mentioned, things are changing platforms are, are rapidly evolving. So let’s talk about how you actually started jumping into tic talk with this hashtag challenge.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    love talking about this. So this we did for the past tax season. I think it was really a 2020, but that feels like a lifetime ago. And at that time, you know, we are an advertiser in the super bowl and we always try to think through how do we really engage consumers? How do we amplify this investment in the big game and really extend engagement across our end to end digital channels. And given that the Superbowl is still one of the key modes, people tune into something live. We know that social is a big opportunity for us to do that. So that particular year, our super bowl spot was essentially a music video with a really catchy song, a refrain that all people are tax people and a really simple dance. And at the time take talk was very much still focused on music and dancing.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    our team thought there was a lot of really great synergy between what was in the spot and how the question of, well, why don’t we invite people to do the dance? That’s a pretty simple call to engagement. So in that case, we kind of kicked the idea around for a while, and I really just encourage the team like let’s run with it. And it was able to work with our brand team and agencies to really spearhead that and pretty quickly go from, Hmm. Maybe we should do this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s go to making it launch right in time for the big game. And essentially one of the questions was really, I think TV spots are very one way, right? We’re showing you something and they do have social. It’s really a two way conversation. So whenever I’m thinking about how do we extend a TV spot, the social I with think what’s the mirror image essentially of the spot?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • What

    is the consumer reaction? How can they see themselves in this? What is a really fun way for them to participate and engage? And it was really simple synergy for this particular spot. So in order to translate it from TV to Tech-Talk, we gave the dance and the video, a really fun name. We called it the W2 step. Cause that gives a nod to the dance that you’ve established. Everyone’s pretty much heard of here and also W2’s, which are, are a pretty critical tax document for a lot of people and a really well-known tax document. So we then encouraged people to really show us your W2 step as a reminder, that all people are tax people and you do a lot of hard things in your life, and you can also do your taxes, which was part of the overall theme of the brand campaign this year.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • And

    I was incredibly proud of that. I think it was the first hashtag challenge that any of our Intuit brands had done. And since then, I think we got over 3 billion views on that hashtag challenge, hundreds of thousands of engagement and outperform tick tocks benchmarks at the time for a hashtag challenge. So given the success of that challenge, we’ve done more on the TurboTax side, across both the us and lost our first two got challenged in Canada. Last season, we lean more at the top with our, we launched our organic presence there a few months later and have been doing a lot of testing and learning there. And now we’ve also had other teams would intuitive, also tested these challenges as well. So it’s been pretty incredible to see the, the amount of engagement on Tik TOK, especially if you can find an angle in that really gets people excited to participate.

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • Lauren,

    you are very modest. This is so powerful, this idea of a book ending a TV commercial with getting people to go to tech, talk to extend that the surround sound omni-channel aspect of it too, is, is remarkable. You are a person of first, we’ve talked about two of your first. There’s still one more dear listeners. We talked about Lauren using Cammie. We just talked about the hashtag challenge. The other Lauren first was before your time at Intuit, your time at cricket wireless. Now a subsidiary of a T and T that got you in the Guinness book of world records. Please tell our listeners about that.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    love this story. So I’m so glad you asked. It’s funny. You can actually see my world record right behind me and my, my office wall to this day. So at that time, you know, it’s interesting when I was at cricket, essentially, I really helped them to shake up their national social media strategy. And we were doing a lot of sponsorships, for example, with brands like WWE and then live streaming had launched on Facebook and was starting to emerge. And I really was thinking like, why don’t we leverage live streaming to, for example, host Q and A’s with WWE talent and leverage our sponsorship assets, really let fans engage with their favorite WB WWII superstars in a really fun way. So we started doing live streams in this way, and then just got bigger and bigger and bigger with it. So as we got into the holiday season, we were kicking around and because of their agency, and they mentioned doing an, a, a holiday themed live stream for a couple of hours.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • And

    one of my bosses at the time throughout the idea of, oh, why don’t we make it 24 hours? And I did came up really late. It was only a few weeks out from the holiday season and typically this kind of thing you want months to plan. And I really hit the ground running on it with the team. So it was a matter of thinking. We had a really fantastic agency partner for this, and we literally took a 24 hour calendar and broke it down literally into 15 minute increments of Holly wanted to program it. And we thought, well, we want to get across as a business. So we programmed in some information about device launches and device demos. And we also thought what’s really interesting to our consumers. And we work with one of the research teams to pull kind of what our consumers are, reading, what they’re watching, what they’re listening to and then programs and more content around that.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    we had, for example an, an extra couple of exercise segments, we had some cooking segments. We brought in a superstar from another restaurant organization to show us how to make an entrance at a party. You know, we brought in Cal Mitchell to do a stand up comedy set. We had musicians and we really tried to marry, you know, what are we trying to convey as a business? And also, how do we think of this as an entertainment vehicle and literally program it for 24 hours? And it took a lot of collaboration internally. I had to get approval on the dollar, smart, our head of marketing and worked really closely with everyone from legal to the, the brand team to make sure that our sets were designed a certain way. I had a lot of late calls with legal. It’s funny. I had my legal counsel on kind of speed Belize still in my phone and I’d call him and he’d be like, I’m at dinner with my wife. What do you want? I’m like, I need approval on this contract, please let me know if I can move forward. Yeah. And actually I ended up dragging him to be onsite with us for the whole 24 hours. And he was kinda like, do you need me on this? And I was like, you’re going to love it. Just say yes

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • To

    kind of make it happen, but it was really an incredible experience. So we set the Guinness world record for the longest and non TV commercial essentially. And it’s one of the highlights in my careers.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • That's

    amazing. I also love that you dragged a member of legal, like to the event, but that’s man, that’s an amazing and congratulations again. I mean, I know that was several years ago, but that’s huge. I also have to ask to just connecting all these things. You’ve talked about so many amazing campaigns you’re running and all of these new approaches and, and you are able to come up with some really amazing, fun, big campaigns and concepts. There’s a lot of social pros out there who have similar ideas or they’re sitting on ideas that they feel like fall on deaf ears. So how do you get these ideas from off the page, into an executives head and get them to really see the value of these things? I think, you know, so many times we get caught up in how amazing these ideas are, but it’s so hard to translate. So how do you actually get them executed, get everybody on board and get them to see exactly how much potential there is to some ideas.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • There's

    a couple of things that I do on the backend to actually make that happen. I mean, even getting a budget approval for some of these things, even getting legal approval for some of my crazy ideas, I used to joke that my secret for getting legal sign-off was sleep deprivation for the legal team. So I cut this lawyer awake for 24 hours. Don’t recommend that as an ongoing tactic, but I honestly, I have a track record of innovating. And I think because I’ve been able to develop that, I think people are willing to bet on me, whether it’s investing in our first ever hashtag challenge or giving me the funding for a 24 hour livestream. And part of the reason also is because I really invest in kind of establishing my thought leadership and being a great thought partner across key stakeholders and also really building those key relationships before I need them.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    if I’ve already built up a level of trust and partnership with different stakeholders and teams, then I’m essentially able to cash that in and have them also advocate for me, an example of it was with our first hashtag challenge. Really the brand team owned the dollars for spending that spot, but because I built up a relationship with that team, they were able to say, you know what? We know the timeline’s really tight, but I have a lot of confidence. Lauren can pull this off, let’s make the investment. And so that is one of the ways that I’m able to really do these big campaigns, especially on tight turnarounds. Another secret is one that I learned when I took improv comedy classes. And the idea really is that in improv things can get really crazy. And the secret is the audience really wants things to get a little bit crazy, but you have to take the audience along for the journey.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    one of my teacher was always used to say, you can take the train to crazy town, but you have to take the local. In other words, if you want a big idea, a little bit of crazy, you have to make a lot of stuffs along the way, so people can follow the journey. And I found that really applies to marketing as well. So if I have a big idea, like, Hey, why don’t we launch a hashtag challenge in a few weeks, or why don’t we all stay awake for three days and do a 24 hour live stream? I found that I’m able to do that by really bringing leadership in, along for the ride. And then building that trust ahead of time. I don’t want to make the leap to these crazy big ideas they’ve already invested in, bought in enough to support me in executing these bigger concepts.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Nice.

    I love that. So sleep deprivation and taking the crane, taking the train to crazy town, but making sure it’s a local. I love it. I feel like I am learning so much on this. Just, just even chatting with you. I love this so much, but Lauren, I, I love your approach and I love, you know, as you had mentioned, and again, Adam had mentioned it as well. You’re being very modest. You have a huge history of innovation, but you are also responsible for a team as well. And when we were chatting offline, you said that really one of the things that you feel is an area of focus for you specifically with them, is helping them operate within their zones of genius. Now, clearly you have shown exactly what that looks like and how it can come to life. And how do you help others get there by helping them operate in their zone of genius? And what exactly does that mean to?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    I recently read a book called the big leap and that talks a lot about this idea of zone of genius. So the idea is that we’ll have different areas from your zone of incompetence to your zone of competence. So it, one incompetence is things that you’re really, you’re just not good at it. You might try to do it. Like I was trying to hang up some victories in my apartment. I’ll spend forever on them and they’re never hung straight though. I use the level and everything, so that it’s very firmly in my zone of incompetence. So the idea is to delegate things that are in your zone of incompetence, then there’s your zone of competence, which is you can do it. You’re okay at it. Someone else can do it equally as well. And once you level up to your zone of genius, it’s where you’re really operating at your peak and you can be your most innovative, your most creative, and it’s where you individually can make the most impact that no one else really can.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    I’ve really grown my team in the past year. And I really think through how do I really enable others to operate there? So part of it really is understanding what are the skills are bringing to the table and can we lead in there? I think often people, especially in corporate they’ll, you know, they’ll, how do you work on your weaknesses a lot? And I think that can honestly be a little bit demoralizing. So what I try to do is really think about what are our strengths and can we really lean in there? I think you get a lot more return on your investment of energy. If you’re leaning into your strengths, instead of just trying to, to improve your weaknesses. I think you can do both, but I think you get a lot more bang for your buck on leaning into where you’re already winning.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    I try to think through what are people already good at? I’ve got a person on my team who is awesome at paid social. So he brought her onto that it’s paid. So it’s when I’m really having her focused there and really encouraging her to challenge us with her ideas and push us and bring her her best thinking to the table because that’s where she’s already great. And another team member is really excited about video. So part of it too, is what’s really turning people’s light bulbs on what are they excited about? What do they want to lean into and how can I give them space to really make decisions and own projects and those areas of excitement and interest and help them grow their zone of genius in this area. So what projects can give you access to in this area? What resources can I give you access to?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • What

    meetings do I want to pull you into? How do I want you to shadow me, to see how I operate in my zone of genius? And then also thinking through also, what do they want to grow and giving them space in projects and opportunity to really grow in these different areas? I think I do try to balance that with what the overall needs of the team who’s best suited for what, but I think we have so much of our lives invested in work, and I am entirely too much of a workaholic not to really try to find joy. And I really want to also be able to enable my team to do work that they’re enjoying as well. Even if some of it’s grunt work, we don’t love all of it. How can we just have all your plates more of like the dessert that you’re really excited about doing?

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • I

    love that I, I’m also a huge fan of leadership and mentorship over management in managing like the work and just how much more effective that can be. Lauren, I genuinely sincerely thank you for being on the show today. You have given so much insight and so much fun advice and just, just different areas of, of opportunity. I think for social pros that we don’t get to tap into a lot in some episodes. So thank you so much for being on before we do let you go though, cause Adam and I could talk to you all day. I guarantee we really could, before we let you go, we do have two final questions for you. And of course they are the big two questions that we have asked every, almost 500 guests of the social pros podcast. Lauren, are you ready for these questions?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I'm

    ready. Bring it on. All

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Right.

    First and foremost, what piece of advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a social pro?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • I

    have so much advice and I’ve been thinking about this bullet down to one thing, and I think that one thing would really be develop your ability to connect the dots. So, one thing I’ve been really good at is thinking through, I think of social networks as kind of like each a different country with its own culture. And then you’ve got to really think through what are kind of all times seeing in the overall culture, what are the trends I’m seeing in these platforms? And then how do I marry that to the needs of the business I will work with? And then how do I connect that with any of the people I work with to really make sure that they’re really gonna support me and innovating and doing new things. So how can you look at different DAS that affect your work, both within your team, within the larger environment, the cultural landscape and connect these dots really build in innovation building strategy that then helps to support your business. Because at the end of the day for social pros who do this for a corporation, a company it’s really all about how are you leveraging these channels to support your business goals and bottom line

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Love

    it. Absolutely love it. All right. Second question. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be and why?

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • So

    I’m going to cheat this one just a little bit. And first I am so fatigued on video calls. I would really try to take it offline and I would like that to people. So the people I don’t want are Oprah. So I think she really is a master storyteller and communicator, and she has an ability to connect with people, whether it’s guests and visually, or a larger global audience. And I really admire that skill. I find for me, connecting with people is a way I’ve made really cool things happen, both in my work and in my life. And I love to experience that connection with her in person and learn more about her approach to building a business her zone of genius, right? Which is this idea of like speaking, connecting and bringing our stories in a way that’s really engaging and very heartfelt. And the second person is beyond say, who absolutely fascinates me? I think it’s been amazing to watch her evolution as an artist, her longevity in the creative space, how she was branching out into her own companies and brands, whether it’s fashion or investing in watermelon water, you know, and I also see that little bit of a closet creative. Like I do singing lessons. I studied improv comedy and I’d love to talk to her more about her own creative journey. As I think about my development as an artist myself.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • That's

    awesome. And speaking of connecting the dots, I love how you pick two true innovators in their field and just, I mean, both of them so known for their absolute master of the craft, their individual crafts, and then also just innovating the fields that they’re in. So absolutely I could see those conversations being so intriguing and I would love to be a

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • Fly

    on the wall. You can come to dinner

  • Adam

    Brown:

  • Yeah.

    In their internal brand too. And that’s what I, I love they, they know what they stand for and everything they do is consistent. And of course, Oprah had been, I think probably a top 10 response from from, from guests over the years. Beyonce has been mentioned before, but never have the two collided on social pros. So

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • Another

    first, Lauren, thank you so much for being here. Senior manager, communications and social at Intuit. Thank you so much. This has been a genuine delight to chat with you today.

  • Lauren

    Thomas:

  • My

    pleasure. Thank you both so much for the opportunity. Thank you.

  • Anna

    Hrach:

  • And

    to everybody else, listening and tuning in, he is Adam Brown from Salesforce and I am Anna hurrah from convince and convert. We hope that you enjoyed this episode because we sure enjoyed recording it with Lauren. We also look forward to continuing our conversations next time on what we hope is your favorite podcast in the whole wide world, the social pros podcast.

  • CC

    EP 494 – Edited (Completed 10/26/21)

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