Productive and Effective Social Media Programs Require Commitment, Persistence and Patience
By now, it’s likely that your CPA or consulting firm’s marketing program includes social media. I would postulate, however, that most of the shareholders in your firm still wonder if social media is a “gotta have” or a “wanna have”. Perhaps they feel that the firm is being compelled to do social media by some powerful, inevitable, unseen force, and as a consequence, it’s likely that social media is not a very critical part of your marketing program.
Only a handful of professional services firm, in my opinion, are really doing social media justice. That’s because they’ve invested in their social media program strategically and financially, and aren’t doing it for the sake of doing it, but for the sake of using social meeting to reach firm growth and branding objectives.
The common denominators of these firms using social media in a best practices kind of way is that they have dedicated – not casual – resources committed to overseeing and executing the firm’s social media program, they’re actually socializing with peers and prospects, they’re sharing observations and insights, and they’re always looking for and contributing to conversations.
Should Social Media Be a Priority for Your Firm?
Answer: probably not a priority at this point in time, but…..
Social media should be a part of your marketing program, even if that means just dipping your toes into the social media waters. Before making a heavy investment in using social media, your priorities should be: (1) developing a key word/SEO strategy, (2) optimizing your web site, (3) content marketing, and (4) email marketing.
To begin (or enhance) your social media program, start by canvassing your clients and prospects to see what social media networks they’re in, and the frequency of their interactions. Get accounts established in those networks, and before firing off tweets or updates, lurk for a while and get a sense of the type of interactions and the quality of those interactions. Engage in a few conversations. Then hook up a blog auto publishing feature to those accounts so you can start promoting your valuable content.
Becoming More Effective and Productive With Social Media
Here are a few other observations gleaned from our monitoring of best practices social media marketers about how your accounting or consulting firm/niche can be more effective and productive with social media:
- Define what your objectives are for your firm’s social media program and the metrics you’ll be using to determine whether the program is working to reach those objectives.
- Be selective about what social media networks you participate in – fish where the fish are.
- Use different social media networks for different objectives, for example, Facebook is terrific for recruiting but not so much for sharing observations on compliance issues with CFOs
- Social media is not the new SEO, but should work with SEO to drive eyeballs to your website
- Use social media automation features (like those you can find in HubSpot) to update your fans, followers and connections … but stick to updates about new content you have available.
- Save some time and efforts by cutting down on using hashtags because your prospects are probably not monitoring hashtags, except when they’re at a conference or event
- Use more than one social media network to promote your content, but try not to use the exact same copy on each network – find something new to promote about your content that can also be a catalyst for stimulating conversation or more distribution
- If you are going to use social media, then make a commitment and stick to it if you want to see results. This is not a “one-off tactic” or something you do as time permits. Your social media strategy is going to take time, perseverance and patience as well as resources in the form of staff.
- The days of enforceable social media policies are over and done so don’t waste time creating a firm social media policy or monitoring employee use. Instead, publish guidelines built around one key theme: don’t do anything stupid.
- Respond appropriately to negative comments about your firm or practice, but you don’t have to respond to every one.
- Put yourself into a friend/follower/connections shoes and take a look at what you’ve been publishing. If your social media is all about your firm, then you will turn them off. Remember – it’s all about sharing and engagement, not self-promotion.
- Test the timing and frequency of your social media updates to determine an optimal publishing schedule
- Unless you are a huge firm, don’t split your social media accounts into vertical markets accounts, because it will only dilute your efforts.
It’s a Journey
Remember, social media is a journey and not a destination. If you can’t make a commitment to be an active participant, then at least establish a beachhead in social media networks where your clients, prospects and peers are engaging.
Last but not least, check out this terrific blog post from HubSpot that you may find to be of great value and insights: 30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore.