Making the Most of Social Media and Your Website
Social media offers accountants an unprecedented chance to reach their audience, forge new connections, and build lasting trust. However, many accountants have been reluctant to join social media platforms. With the multitude of outlets available today (and more added every year), which ones should accountants choose? Are the results worth the effort? How can professionals structure their workflows to keep up with the never ending-demands for new content?
Many accounting firms have found that strategic use of social media can help them get insight into clients’ thinking, strengthen their position as industry experts, and generate greater exposure. How do the successful firms make it work? There is no secret code, but there are a few guidelines.
- Start with strategic goals in mind
You must begin your social media journey with an honest and strategic review of your goals. Social media may help you reach them, but only as a part of a holistic marketing plan. Accountants should be realistic in their expectations. It’s unlikely that any professional practice can double its revenue simple because its founder has joined Twitter or re-designed a website.
Social media and online presence are be important parts of your overall branding, prospecting, and marketing strategy – but they must fit into the big-picture view first. You might use a professional blog to drive visitors to your website, or join Twitter to stay in touch with prospects or professional referral sources. Be clear on what you want to accomplish and set measurable (and reasonable) benchmarks.
- Understand your target audience before you choose your platforms
With the wealth of social media platform options available, it can be tempting to try them all right away. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the most popular ones. All three allow professionals to create an individual or company presence online. Whether you chose one or the other (or both), be sure that all outlets present a consistent image, offer links to each other, and connect to your firm’s website.
A key piece of social media is its “social” aspect. To be effective and efficient with the use of your time, you must choose the platforms that matter most to your target audience. If none of your clients or potential referral resources use Twitter for business, your capacity for impact in that area is diminished. Be sure to observe whether your audience accesses the platform of choice on a mobile device or a computer. If one or the other is predominant, tailor the format of your content for their convenience.
- Aim for consistency to maximize long-term results
It’s better to hand-pick a few tools and use them consistently than to have a lackluster presence across a multitude of platforms. Choose one or two outlets to start. Commit to making them a regular part of your workflow. Beyond the initial learning curve, social media presence does not have to be extremely time-consuming – short touchpoints on a regular basis work best. Keep in mind that social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Social Sprout can allow you to pre-schedule a week’s worth of shares and posts in matter of 20-30 minutes.
Some accountants have found that blogging and creating YouTube video content can be effective in connecting with their audiences to share insight and advice. Consider the appeal of those platforms to your client base and generate content regularly for best results.
Simply creating content is not enough – be sure to share it through e-mail campaigns, newsletters, or cross-platform posting. Encourage others in your network to share your content if they have found it helpful.
- Create content that adds value
Beyond simply sharing links and writing posts, focus on what matters most to your clients. Do they want market analysis, business efficiency tips, or insights into recent HR research? Start with hot-button topics to create content that is timely, relevant, and valuable. Look at trending topics within your area of expertise on Google and get feedback from your audience to course-correct as needed.
- Optimize your website and offer a call to action
Many accountants approach their website as an opportunity to have an online resume and service menu. The problem is that prospects don’t consume online information the same way they read conventional paper brochures. When it comes to the website, eliminate lengthy write-ups in favor of bullet points, lists, visuals, and videos.
Provide your clients and prospects with a clear path through the content by asking yourself, “What do I want my visitor to do next?”
One of the more extreme examples of this is Google – once you land on the page, the obvious next step is to do a search! Google offers accountants a valuable lesson: when faced with too many options, confused people do nothing. Aim to guide your visitors through your website as you would through your office, and you will improve their attention span and your results.
- Track results
Depending on the platforms you select, you may be tracking the number of exposures, clicks, likes, shares, or the length of time the visitor spends on your website or video. Short-term results may not offer you enough trends for meaningful analysis, so give your strategy three to six months to accumulate enough relevant data to guide your decisions.