If your firm is not using social media as a business development and client relationship tool, what are you waiting for? Social media has been around long enough to have verifiable results that point to the success of using social media as a means for marketing, business development and client relations.
Learning how and why to use social media platforms effectively is an essential skill for those in professional services, and not just the marketing and business development staff. If you’re struggling with social media as a firm, you’re not alone. Even though many firms are using social media, many say they still struggle with what to post, when to post and any sort of follow up for lead generation.
If your firm can do these 5 things when it comes to social media it will be ahead of the competition. But don’t wait too long. Professional services firms are learning and they’re learning fast.
Be sure to post regularly.
Your clients, prospects and referral sources want to know what is happening at your firm and informed on any sort of industry updates on a regular basis. If you’re last tweet or LinkedIn post is from 2017, you’re probably hurting your firm more than helping. Having a neglected social media platform reflects poorly on the firm.
Just like the old adage that “in order for advertising to be successful it has to be frequent and consistent,” be sure you are posting to social media on a frequent and consistent basis. Opinions differ but it’s a good rule of thumb to at least post something new to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn at least twice a week. Using a tool such as Hootsuite or Tweet Deck makes this very easy.
Work with your marketing staff or, if you don’t have in-house staff, work with an outside agency or consultant to develop a content calendar. This is a critical activity that too many firms ignore. This calendar should lay out the topics and subjects you will want to post and when to post them. For example, you may want to start posting year-end tax planning ideas in September. Or, the advantages of section 529 plans at back to school time. You should keep some “blank” spaces in your calendar for things such as new legislation or other timely topics that you can’t predict 6-12 months out with any certainty.
Use multiple social media platforms.
Just like your investment portfolio, diversity in your social media is a good thing. There are many social media options to choose fro: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You should be utilizing at least 2 different platforms to really be effective. Developing your content calendar to include at least two is essential and coordinating your topics between the different platforms is a no-brainer. You also want to make sure you are consistent between platforms with your topics. Again, a tool such as Hootsuite or Tweet Deck makes this very easy. Having said that, some topics or posts are better for one social media platform over the other. We’ll touch on this in a minute.
Keep industry specific deadlines and changes in mind.
There are a myriad number of deadlines that you need to be aware of when you work in accounting. Using those as part of your social media strategy only makes sense. For example, tax topics as you approach a tax deadline, or IRA contribution topics as you approach tax filing deadline. Certainly, talking about summer vacation planning in the spring makes sense, or does it? You just might find that your followers are thinking about summer vacation during the deep, dark months of January and February.
Often times there are legislation changes that are approved. These are typically voted on in the fall and then have a specific implementation deadline. Being aware of those timeframes and deadlines should go into your content calendar. In addition, having an overview of how those new laws affect your followers should be on the top of the list once they have been announced.
If the AICPA or PCAOB comes out with new standards or regulations, those are also good topics to include in your social media.
Give a glimpse inside the firm.
Your clients, prospects and referral sources are human, they want to see the “other” side of your firm every now and then just to make sure you’re human too. While industry updates, event reminders and other industry-specific articles are great, sometimes showing the social side of the firm can build rapport as well. Posting pictures of Friday pizza lunches, all-staff meetings or volunteering activities humanizes the firm and allows your followers to “peek behind the professional curtain” – so to speak. This is especially true when using a platform such as Facebook. Many firm recruiting professionals post these types of photos and stories to Facebook to show a glimpse into why working at your firm is different than other firms. However, be careful when posting these types of photos so that you safeguard any sort of personal client information or other confidential firm information.
Vary your forms of content.
When developing your content calendar be sure to include a variety of different content types. Some of your followers will like to read the linked articles while others might prefer a video. Change it up often and be sure you are appealing to your followers’ visual side as well; video, pictures, infographics, etc. Dig into the analytics to see which type of posts are getting the most views, clicks, likes and/or shares. Having that knowledge will help you plan your types of posts in the future. But again, don’t be a one trick pony and be sure to vary your posting style.
Social media can be, and should be, an important part of your marketing and business development strategy. Learning how to do it better only makes sense. However, bad social media activities can negatively impact the firm’s reputation and brand quickly. Make sure to be careful in what you post and have a social media crises plan should something not go as planned.