Some people love tax season. For others, it’s a time of sad math and quiet, chill-inducing hours spent with accountants or tax-preparation software.
However tax season treats you, one thing remains clear: people (or their social martketing companies) are thinking about taxes, and they're turning to tax preparation companies’ Facebook pages in droves, driving up likes at a scale not seen in just about any other industry.
While it’s not terribly surprising that people are beginning to think about taxes as they receive W2s in the mail, jumps in likes of this magnitude also assure that referenced companies show up in much-coveted Facebook news streams. It also means that they stay on consumers' radars for the rest of the year, allowing them to create brand loyalty via messaging during slow seasons.
A look at the data for several tax companies shows that we’re not just talking blips here, either. In almost every case, a jump in Facebook likes starts in the new year. Interestingly, tax companies tend to keep those likes throughout the year, probably due to low amounts of activity outside of tax season.
Perhaps the best-known tax-tech company is Intuit's ($INTU) TurboTax. Last year, the company saw a Facebook-like jump of around 60,000. This year, they're off to the races again, having already seen a 40,000 jump in likes, and we're not even out of the woods yet. This year, the company is messaging with a quirky video ad campaign that it hopes will strike a chord with digitally savvy filers.
This year, Jackson Hewitt ($PRIVATE:JACKSONHEWITT) is doubling down on refund advances for middle-income Americans. This year, the firm opened more than 3,000 pop-up storefronts in WalMarts all the while promising higher refunds than those pulled from competitors H&R Block and TurboTax. The strategy appears to be working for them, if at least on Facebook, with an already-steep like spike at the beginning of 2018.
Liberty Tax ($TAX) is no stranger to unusual marketing techniques, perhaps best exemplified by their roaming Lady Liberties on the streets of cities inviting potential customers into stores with promises of delicious tax refunds. This year, Liberty Tax is bringing its marketing muscle to the internet, warning consumers of identity theft and promising customers that by filing early with them, their data is safe. It appears to be working, too: Facebook likes are on the upswing. Fun fact: Liberty Tax was founded by John Hewitt, co-founder of Jackson Hewitt.
Tax-prep stalwart H&R Block sees more subtle jumps in Facebook likes around tax season, but the jumps are certainly there. The Kansas City-based company is making a run for quick filers with a free prep and filing option for 1040EZ filers, at least for a limited time. The company also got in bed with WalMart, becoming the exclusive tax software product offered by the world's largest retailer. Interestingly, H&R Block has historically seen Facebook like jumps closer to the filing deadline, probably a reflection of the fact that people still actually go to H&R Block locations to do their taxes with real, live humans.