TurboTax Contest Rewards Twitter and Facebook Chatter

The makers of TurboTax are giving away thousands of dollars in cash as well as trips to New York and Los Angeles in an attempt to generate some brand chatter on social networking sites this tax season.

Intuit, which makes the tax-preparation software, worked with creative agency Dailey in Los Angeles and widget-maker Mixercast in San Mateo, California, to create the “Super Status Contest,” which rewards Facebook, MySpace and Twitter users for creatively integrating the TurboTax brand into their status updates.

The contest is simple: Once or twice a week, Intuit posts a question to the contest’s Web site that centers on tax season and, typically, wish fulfillment. “What office quirks of yours would you like to make tax deductible” for example, or “If you were President, what’s the craziest thing you’d make tax deductible?”

Users must first friend TurboTax on MySpace, become a fan of the brand on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. They can then use their status to provide creative answers to the questions, being sure to use the name “TurboTax” in the text.

The company then names winners based on how creative the answers are and how many of one’s friends or followers see it.

“The problem we were trying to solve for Intuit is how do you create buzz for TurboTax, which is not necessarily the sexiest brand,” Jennifer Cooper, CEO and founder of Mixercast, said. “How do you create an engaging campaign across the social media environment specifically to engage younger audiences with this brand?”

“We have over 5 million unique uses who have joined or engaged with the brand in one way or another,” she said. The number includes all social media accounts that were exposed directly or indirectly to the TurboTax contest. “You can’t get that level of sustained engagement in traditional media or through banner ads, arguably even on TV.”

A windfall of so many “fans” and “friends” begs the question: What will Intuit do with all those newly opted-in followers once the campaign ends in April?

“There are no direct marketing or further advertising efforts planned above and beyond this contest,” Cooper said.

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