Netting the social butterflies.

skodis    June 3, 2014

Organization Name:          H&R Block

Industry:                              Financial Services Company

Name of Contact: N/A

Everywhere I go these days men, women and young adults are on their phones and tablets interacting with others in some social media space. The entomologist in me compares them to butterflies; flitting from one pollen source to another capable of moving that pollen over great distances.


As Dave Evans author of Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day suggests “social media, simply, is text, words, pictures, video and the like created with the intention of sharing.” It has been shown that organizations that share information with their customers benefit by more valuable relationships and customers that are more likely to send referrals your way. Then why does an organization resist reinventing itself into a social media enterprise when customer engagement is a major aspect of their employee’s responsibilities?

One firm that has successfully adopted an effective social media enterprise model is H&R Block. H&R Block is a Kansas City based company established 54 years ago currently with 10,000 locations across the US alone.

In an interview on SME-TV, Scott Gulbransen, the Director of Social Business Strategy  gave an overview of H&R’s process to adopt social media. He warns company’s up front that they will not get total buy in at once. But to consider it a journey, finding internal champions and building measureable business cases to support adoption. Gulbransen maintains that the social media strategy must be part of the management team’s business strategy to ensure management commitment with measurable goals.

To empower their employees H&R Block had to ensure that content on their social media sites was current, relevant and secure.

Major concerns were:

  • Changing regulations – as new tax laws are introduced the impact of those changes on personal and corporate accounts have to be analyzed and posted
  • Privacy – user’s cannot be identified – security
  • Confidentiality – users have the capability of filing their information online but this information should not be available to everyone
  • Large employee base – with over 10,000 locations across the country it was recognized that many of the requests had a local content so most employees should have access

Through communities and blogs employees share content and answer questions in the most popular social media spaces. This reduces response time during the busy tax preparation time and builds customer confidence through open and transparent business practices. Gulbransen sees this employee empowerment as relationship based value add and makes the customer “feels like the brand was there for me”.

In a video created by Scott to introduce the social media team  employees outline their role which they define as providing road signs to navigate the tax system, provide tips on tax planning and personal finances all the while protecting personal information. This video, along with subsequent marketing videos, demonstrates an engaged team ready to make social media work for the good of the firm.


Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day – Dave Evans – ISBN-13: 978-111819449

YouTube Videos

Note: Scott Gulbransen is currently is Vice President of Global Communications & Digital Marketing at DSI.

Submitted by:         Sandra Kodis, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo

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