Balancing the Risks and Rewards of Being a Social Managing Partner – Advice for Managing Partners
If I were a betting man, I would wager that if you are a managing partner in anaccounting, consulting or other professional services firm, you’re not spending a great deal of time Tweeting, posting updates and comments in LinkedIn, Facebooking or in general, playing in the social media sandbox.
But this blog post isn’t about why a managing partner should be a “social managing partner”; it’s more about the pros and cons of having a social footprint. Changes in attitudes, perceptions and tactics related to marketing come very slowly to professional services firms.
Should more involvement in social media by a managing partner be one of those changes that need to be accelerated, or is your social media engagement more of wishful thinking on the part of the firm’s marketing team than a practical reality?
Why Managing Partners Aren’t More Social
There’s a lot of research available about why CEOs aren’t involved in social media like CEO.com’s Social CEO Report that found that only 32 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have at least one account on a social network, or in other words, 68 percent completely lack a social media presence.
Another study of C-suite respondents working in companies with revenues of $500 million or more by the PR firm Weber Shandwick, (The Social CEO: Executives Tell All) provides some interesting insights on why CEOs aren’t more social. Here’s a summary of their findings:
I believe the results of these studies apply to professional services firms across a spectrum of industries and sizes. Yes, CEOs as well as managing partners in accounting and consulting firms are aware of social media. But very, very few are actively involved, but maybe it’s time to become more social.
Why Managing Partners Should Be More Social
Just as there are compelling reasons why managing partners are reluctant to be more social, there are a number of rewards and benefits of making the commitment.
Here are ten upsides to becoming a social managing partner that need to be considered:
- Provides opportunities to extend the firm’s brand and your role as the brand ambassador
- Grow your network and the company’s reach
- Show the company is innovative and a leader in using social media to communicate to clients, prospects and employees
- Showcase your thought leadership
- Differentiate from other managing partners in your market, who are most likely not engaged in social media
- Humanize the firm and give it more personality
- Helps grow and build relationships with media contacts and get more media coverage
- You set a positive example to employees
- Helps find and attract new customers
- Hands on involvement in a trend that will impact the firm’s marketing program
Make a Commitment and Start Slowly
My belief is that managing partners should indeed be more social. Let’s face it – social media is not going to dry up and blow away, it’s only going to become a more and more important tactic in the firm’s marketing arsenal. But that doesn’t mean that as a managing partner you need to go from 0 to 100 mph overnight.
Start slowly by signing up for LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Learn how to use your accounts – it’s really not all that hard to do. Complete your LinkedIn profile and choose a limited number of LinkedIn groups to join – especially those where you’ll find prospects.
Then, devote an hour a week to social media publishing. Participate in LinkedIn groups by offering or responding to comments. Try tweeting once a day. Write a blog post once per month. Check in on your competitors and see what they’re doing in social media.
You do indeed have a lot on your plate, and the thought of adding more responsibilities – especially for something that may not have an immediate ROI - may make you groan. Hopefully, those groans will just be signs of growing pains!