Apr 162008

I was reading through my feeds this morning and came across an article about how H&R Block is using social media. Basically, they’re using twitter as a mechanism to see what people are saying about them and responding to those people. Additionally, they’ve got a couple of applications on facebook – a tax return estimator and a financial quiz application.

This is pretty interesting on a couple of fronts. First, if I twitter (twit? tweet?) about H&R Block and get a response from them, I imagine that would be pretty impactful, particularly if the message I get back is helpful. From the perspective of H&R Block, that interaction is valuable, at least for now. People will probably receive it well until every single time they mention any brand they get a message from that brand. I can see people starting to censor themselves regarding brands when they share something on twitter.

As far as H&R Block’s applications, I haven’t tried them (and won’t), but they don’t seem all that social. What is social about a tax return estimator? My taxes are between me and Uncle Sam. And Uncle Stan (my spontaneously created name for New Jersey – you like that?). As for the financial quiz application, yes, that one is more social. I still don’t think it’s very useful or valuable though. Granted, its users are getting more H&R Block brand messaging just by using it, which does have some value for them, no doubt.

I just thing they could do better. I propose “BlockNet”. H&R Block should build their own, branded social network that ties in with Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, and all of the others. This network could consist of H&R Block customers, tax preparers, and/or people interested in finance and tax information. Brand “BlockNet” as a financial social community, brought to you by H&R Block, of course. They could very easily convert their regular customers to be users of this branded network directly. They could expand their market by bringing users in from financial based web sites like fool.com, smartmoney.com, etc. And every single user could have the ability to be social regarding financial applications across all of their networks via Social Identity Mapping.

So they’ll probably need some software to help them with this…perhaps Ringside Networks could provide it, and free at that!