How is your accounting firm leveraging social media to reach prospective clients?
“Let’s connect on LinkedIn…”
This phrase has become almost as common as exchanging business cards when at an industry event or conference. Perhaps you’ve even used the phrase at the grocery store or the gym. The question is no longer if you’re on the social networking site, but whether you are an active user. LinkedIn connects more than 300 million people around the globe, and chances are that if there’s someone you want to know professionally, they’re using the site to network, job-hunt or recruit, too.
There’s a lot of weight behind utilizing social media tools to network professionally on an individual-level, but is it worth the time and effort for your firm to enter the LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook world? SocialCPAs recently collaborated with Inovautus Consulting and the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) for its 2014 social media survey to get a pulse on how those in the accounting field use social media.
Of the 395 participants in the 2014 survey, more than 92 percent were active on LinkedIn for business purposes, outranking both Facebook and Twitter. The survey respondents, though, were not asked to distinguish between their individual and their firms’ activity. Perhaps it’s not surprising that posting frequency for accountants was universally low (about 1-4 posts per week on any channel), but sole proprietors are leveraging social platforms about as often as the large accounting firms. Both large firms and sole props outpaced small and mid-sized firms by using the medium up to five times more.
A particularly interesting takeaway from the survey is that accountants aren’t really tracking new business leads that come from social media. The reason for this isn’t clear, but it is important to determine whether the effort on social is well-spent. About half of those surveyed are unaware of the relevant metrics, and of the nearly 43 percent that do pay attention to prospects coming in through social channels, slightly less than one-quarter (24 percent) could indicate the source.
LinkedIn proved to be the most prosperous channel for those firms noting their leads, which speaks to the platform’s gravitas in the professional world. If the New Year will serve as your jumping off point to transform your social strategy from novice user to lead generator, keep these simple best practices in mind:
• Remain timely. An easy first step is to ensure that your company information is correct within the firm’s profile. You might be surprised by how many company profiles house incorrect or otherwise outdated information, including the industries you serve. Potential clients will be unable to reach your firm if there’s a typo in your website address or a missing digit in the phone number. Likewise, post a high-quality image of your firm’s logo, and choose a captivating cover photo that will serve as an indicator of the services you may offer. When the profile has been cleaned up, it’s time to post news and/or otherwise timely updates. Does your firm regularly develop content marketing and thought leadership? Post these pieces to the company’s LinkedIn newsfeed, and target the message as necessary.
• Remember your audience. Targeting particular posts to specific segments of your followers is a simple, yet widely unused trick to reaching the right audience on LinkedIn. When posting an update to the newsfeed, users can choose to share with a targeted audience, rather than all followers of the company. Specifying that audience is easy, and you can choose to target your content by a number of options including industry, seniority, and geography. If your firm has created an infographic based on how you’ve helped streamline the auditing process for clients in the construction industry, you can choose to share it with only those with whom the message is relevant.
• Don’t be afraid of trial and error. As your LinkedIn strategy grows and evolves, it is important to periodically check in on how your key competitors are using the platform. Another good practice is to give equal weight to how other companies you admire are making an impact on social media, regardless of their industry. Follow executives from these companies and note how their profiles and content are unique. Just because you are an accountant doesn’t mean you have to adhere to the industry’s social media mold.