It’s no secret that social media has become an integral part of how we communicate today. But while you may be an expert at sending your friends adorable cat videos or using LinkedIn to connect with old co-workers, you might be missing a very important aspect of social media: its use as a powerful sales and market tool. Believe it or not, social media influences 74% of consumers buying decisions and with stats like that, you can’t afford to be skipping social.
However, if you’re an accountant who is new to the social media game, the world of hashtags and filters can seem more than a little bit intimidating. The good news is that your competitors are likely facing the same challenge, giving your firm an opportunity to rise above the pack. To help you get started, we’ve put together a handy beginner’s guide to social media marketing for accountants.
1. Cultivate an Online Presence
In order for people to find you on social media, you have to actually be on social media, and the first step in doing that is to sign up for networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.. But before you go signing up for every single platform, start by considering where your prospective clients actually are. You may find that you have a huge audience of prospective clients on Facebook and LinkedIn, but very few on Instagram. All it takes is a little bit of preliminary research to find out where your target audience hangs out online, and then you can choose your social platforms accordingly. However, keep in mind that quality trumps quantity, so it’s always better to choose one or two platforms to focus on than to spread yourself thin trying to do six at once.
One firm that has truly carved out a successful online presence is Energized Accounting and the charismatic CPA behind it, Bill Kennedy. Bill is a major force on Twitter and has used the platform to garner a loyal following in the accounting space. Part of the reason for his success is his ability to add a voice to expertise to conversations, especially when it comes to charity accounting, using QuickBooks, and entrepreneurial business. In short, Bill knows exactly where his audience is and he makes sure that his presence is known in that space.
2. Be Strategic
Once you’ve created your online profiles, you might be tempted to start distributing all of your content on all channels. However, recycling your pictures and blog posts is never a good way to build an audience. Before jumping the gun, take some time to think about what the primary focus of each platform is and how you can use that to your advantage. For instance, Twitter may be a great place to share industry news such as new tax rules and regulations, while Instagram may be better suited for sharing photos and videos from accounting events. This doesn’t mean there won’t ever be crossover between your channels, but knowing why people use different social networks for different purposes will help you be more strategic in what you post and how you build your audience.
If you’re looking for a “blueprint” on how to be strategic in your content distribution, you might want to look to Ottawa’s Blueprint Accounting. Though the firm is relatively new, it has figured out how to use different channels to successfully distribute different types of content. For instance, if you look at the firm’s Twitter feed it's filled with news and event updates, while the firm’s Facebook page features more personal content. As Blueprint demonstrates, putting some thought into the kind of content shared on each platform can help to extend a firm’s online reach.
3. Offer Something of Value
Just like your website, people are coming to your social media profiles for a reason, so make sure that you’re meeting their needs with something of value. Instead of simply posting price lists or the services you offer, consider different ways you can serve your potential customers. For instance, if you primarily serve freelancers, you might want to post helpful tips about planning for tax season or little known tax breaks. Alternatively, if your firm serves those in the retail space, you may want to showcase customer stories of how you’ve helped current clients.
One firm that has figured out how to offer its audience something of value is Toronto’s Fint Cloud Accounting. Across its social channels, Fint Cloud Accounting offers insight into entrepreneurship and running a small business, all from the perspective of leveraging the latest technology. Not only is the content useful and relevant, but it's written with a touch of personality.
4. Listen and Engage
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make on social media is using their platforms as a sounding board to talk at people instead of to them. It’s called social media for a reason, and if you’re not being social, you’re doing something wrong.
Instead of simply shouting into the void, consider employing “social listening,” which is “the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.” With this technique, you can identify your customer’s pain points, complaints, and compliments, and then adjust your content accordingly. You can also use the feedback you uncover to understand your competitors and how you can differentiate your firm.
In addition to listening to your audience, you should also be engaging with them. Just take the case of CPA Andrew Wall. With an impressive 71,000 followers on Twitter, Andrew is a major thought leader in the accounting space. This is largely due to his ability to engage with the community (particularly during QBConnect events) by liking, sharing, and commenting on the content posted by other accountants and bookkeepers. Indeed, one of the biggest benefits of social media is that it helps your firm engage in a two-way dialogue with potential customers and Andrew’s impressive following demonstrates how engagement can build relationships.
5. Get Creative
There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to social media, but perhaps the most important part is to remember to be creative. While most of the marketing materials produced by firms are fairly straight-forward, social media offers an opportunity to think outside the box and actually have fun with the subject matter. Whether it’s taking selfies with your team or poking fun at common accountant stereotypes, social media gives your firm a space to differentiate itself from competitors.
If you’re wondering how you could possibly get creative with accounting, look no further than the Australian firm illumin8 accountants. From emojis and custom graphics, to clever recruitment videos, it’s clear that illumin8 has a lot of fun with social media. The firm has cultivated such a massive online following that firm Director Andrew Van De Beek has even been crowned the 2018 Accounting Thought Leader of the Year, demonstrating that a little bit of creativity can go a long way.
By Katherine Pendrill on Jan. 8, 2019