Taxes In Facebook News Feeds Aren’t A Certainty

By Jackie Cohen 

This year’s tax filing deadline in the U.S. approaches this Tuesday, so that means we can expect to see an increase in news feed posts on the topic over the next few days, right? 

Actually, not all of us will see an increase, thanks to the way Facebook has upgraded its news feed algorithm. If you interact with any content concerning taxes, then, yes, you’ll see more posts about this year’s filing deadline of April 17.

We can only speculate about who’s likeliest to click on news feed posts concerning taxes. People busy filing at the last minute might be too busy with paperwork to check Facebook, or those same people could be turning to the social network to bond with others who’ve left things until the last minute.

That pattern assumes demographics dictate engagement with tax content, when in fact things might be more complicated: For example, folks who’ve already scored refunds might feel inclined to comment on posts by those feeling stressed out by their last-minute filings, audits or penalties.

We’ve asked Facebook whether the company’s data team has noted any patterns in status updates concerning taxes, and plan to update this post with anything we learn. We specifically inquired whether the social network has been able to pinpoint how positive peer pressure might have motivated more people to file earlier, pay off fines, clear up audits and so on.

Back in late 2010, Facebook played a role in a tax-related lawsuit that determined an individual’s taxation rate based on disclosures said party had made on his profile (oops!). Surely other cheaters have been nailed with the help of social media since then, although we’ve yet to find any exact statistics on this.

And that brings up a final note: Whereas invoking other seasonal topics in status updates might get brand marketers more visibility in news feeds due to the way Facebook’s algorithm works, the subject of tax filing season might help only some types of brands, and possibly do nothing for others.

A bar might enjoy excellent results from posting a status update related to escaping the stress of taxes, while brands that cater to those who still live with their parents might not show up in news feeds.

Readers, are you seeing any patterns in your Facebook news feed with respect to taxes?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.