Are you an accountant thinking of using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools to promote your accounting firm? You may already have a website and personal accounts with the various social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, but have you created a strategy that ties them all together to further promote your accounting business?
This article will show you some of the many ways you can use social media marketing for accountants to effectively grow your practice.
Initial Skepticism of Social Media Marketing for Accountants
Until late last year, accountants seemed to be wary of using social media for their accounting firms, preferring to use social networks only for professional networking and not for business communications. This fear was due to company concerns about keeping a trustworthy image and dealing with sensitive information.
Despite initial skepticism regarding social media, many top accountants are now implementing strategies that include LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook with great success.
A recent article in FinancialDirector (UK) highlighted:
“Businesses that maintain a block on employees accessing social media may be making a mistake. Of the three most recent uses of social media we asked them to share, 17 percent of Financial Directors said they were researching rival companies’ products and services, and 20.4 percent said they were checking out the background and contacts of prospective senior finance employees. That is of immense value to any business.”
How Accountants Can Benefit From Social Media Marketing
Social media tools like blogs, community forums, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer cheaper, faster and better opportunities to keep in touch with potential clients, contacts and competitors as well as monitoring industry trends and recruiting new team members.
Many savvy accountants are already using social media to gain exposure for their accounting firms and gain an edge on their competitors. If you would like to have the same success it’s crucial that you start by making sure your web site looks great and has a consistent branded image that extends to your social media profiles as well. Once you have established a professional presence, creating great content is the number one strategy for bringing highly targeted traffic to your web site. One of the very best ways to promote that content is through the various social media platforms that ultimately point back to your web site and/or blog.
Social Media Can Help Grow Your Accounting Practice… If Done Right!
Elaine Clarke sums up what makes an effective social media plan for accountants with these questions:
- Who is your audience?
- Where are they?
- What message do you want to get across to them?
- What tool (social media platform) are you going to use?
- How are you going to use it?
The good news is you can use social media itself to find out the answers! Here are some tips that can help you succeed with social media for your accounting practice.
10 Powerful Social Media Tips for Accountants
1. Do a Google search. Using your name and your accounting firm’s name (also search your competitors’ name) as a keyword to see if your firm has been mentioned in any blogs or articles and discover what others are saying about it. This way, you’ll find out where clients and competitors spend their time online—blogs, social networking sites or communities. Follow the blogs or web sites mentioning your firm/your competitors. Following their posts and activities will allow you to get an idea of what approach to use when marketing your accounting firm. Through this same process, you’ll also be able to identify your ideal clients.
2. Search in social media. To find out who your prospects are, you can search for keywords or hashtags in Twitter, like “#accounting”, “#auditing”, “#payroll” or “#taxes” for people who need an accountant’s help. Facebook’s search box isn’t as powerful as Twitter’s but you can use tools like SocialMention.com to search keywords across all social media sites to find posts from real people discussing those topics. You can also Google the keywords “facebook” with “accounting” to find interesting and related Facebook pages. You can find your ideal clients among those who ‘liked’ those pages.
3. Have profiles on the sites that suit you best. Although LinkedIn is seen as more for professionals than Twitter and Facebook on the FinancialDirector survey, comparing the three is like apples and oranges. LinkedIn is mostly for professional contacts and companies, while Facebook and Twitter tend to be less business oriented in comparison. Each social media site has its strengths and offers a totally different set of tools for you to work with. Twitter for example, is a wonderful tool to drive traffic to your blog. The great content on your blog then attracts new clients as you’ve shown yourself to be knowledgable, credible and positioned yourself as a leading authority.
4. Social proof. “Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers,” says Guy Kawasaki. Referrals are still the biggest source of new clients for accountants. Ask your happy clients to leave positive comments and recommendations on your Facebook or LinkedIn page, this type of social proof is a MASSIVE advantage in 2012.
5. Set realistic expectations. Measurement of ROI depends on what you decide to achieve and measure. Don’t expect a positive ROI immediately. Just remember, the ROI of social media is calculated differently depending on what you have decided to measure from the onset. Social media can truly be seen as an investment as it has been shown the longer you’ve been using it the more it pays off, unlike many forms of traditional marketing.
6. Have a social media routine checklist. Include items like breaking down how many minutes will be spent each day for reading posts, posting tweets and status updates—how many people to follow and connect with, etc. You can use the help of social media software like HootSuite or TweetDeck to preschedule posts in advance so that you are not tied to your computer all day.
7. Have a blog on your web site. You should have links to your blog on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Tweet and post links to your blog posts on each network to drive traffic to your blog and your informative articles.
8. Don’t forget the power of informative videos. Nowadays it is no longer difficult to create a useful video of your accounting firm. Take advantage of YouTube’s second-only-to-Google level of influence. Create a YouTube account, post your videos there and link to the videos from your Facebook or LinkedIn account.
9. Follow leaders in your field. This is easy to do by doing searches on Google, Twitter and LinkedIn. Watching what the industry leaders are doing will give you some great ideas.
10. Don’t neglect the traditional marketing techniques. Seminars/webinars, direct mail, networking events and similar traditional tactics can greatly enhance your overall marketing strategy when paired with your social media campaign.
How Other Accountants Make Social Media Work For Them
For some accountants, like John de Goey, success with social media can simply mean getting hired by a firm they like. For others who already have their own accounting firms, success with social media is measured by an increase in the number of clients after social media adoption:
RSM McGladrey has been using social media actively for about two years now and they have a lot to show for it. They manage four niche blogs (golf, career/recruiting, Manufacturing and ESOP), they have an active Facebook page with over 3500 fans, a Twitter account with nearly 2000 followers, among many other online initiatives! This online activity has spawned high levels of engagement from clients and prospects across each social network, resulting in increased business for the firm.
Elaine Clarke of Cheapaccounting.co.uk achieved success for her accounting franchise through what she calls her “Five P’s of Social Media Success: Planning, Patience, Persistence, Pleasure & Professionalism.” Elaine Clarke says, “Social Media has helped me to grow my business at a very rapid pace; a pace that I would not have been able to achieve if not for social media.”
Today, the preferred method of finding trusted referrals is people seeking out recommendations from their friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
Gary Vaynerchuk says in his bestselling book The Thank You Economy…“If you apply social media correctly, your clients will buy more, they will be more loyal and they will spread your message.”
Social media marketing for accountants is the way of the furture and all of this adds up to your accounting firm flourishing in our new social world.