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H&R Block Social Media Profiled in WSJ

Last month, I offered a profile of a campaign I’ve worked on for H&R Block (“Do Tax Prep and Social Media Go Together?“). Given that respondents appreciated the sharing, I’ll post a follow-up courtesy of the campaign’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal. (I try not to be too insular, but it’s great to be able to share some information on a campaign when I can.)

Here’s the coverage from WSJ, pasted in full as I never can tell if free links will be free for long:

One concern for these [social media] sites is that some advertisers
are creating campaigns on the sites without actually paying the sites
to create the content. Tax-preparation giant H&R Block
is running a social-media campaign on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace,
but the campaign was created by 360i, a small digital-marketing firm,
and marketing firm MRM Interactive. The campaign involves games for the
sites and even a profile and videos about a tax-obsessed character
named Truman Greene. H&R Block simply posted the content to YouTube
and Facebook just as anyone else would. One saving grace for the sites:
H&R Block is buying standard banner ads on the sites to promote the
new content.

“The question is, are advertisers just going to use
their services for free?” says Paula Drum, vice president of marketing
for H&R Block. She says the sites have to find ways to make their
standard ads more valuable by using technology to better target users
according to their interests.

For H&R Block, the social media plan was actually done in conjunction with its media plan; there was actually quite a bit of communication among agencies.

Still, the question Drum asked gets to the heart of a major challenge for how marketers approach social media. There are two parts to it:

1) Sometimes marketers perceive social media as something that should be free and so they’re reluctant to invest in doing it right.

2) Sometimes social media channels really are free or close to it (like a Twitter account, for example), and marketers would rather run a media buy where they know what they’re getting from it than take the time to experiment with new and emerging media.

There are no concrete answers. It differs for every marketer, campaign, and social media channel.

What’s reassuring though from coverage like this WSJ piece is that the media and marketers are asking the right questions.

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