Using Social Media to Build Authority
Becoming a thought leader is about establishing a reputation for expertise in your specialty area. With effort and discipline, accountants can use their online platforms to drive website traffic, build trust with clients and peers, and attract more referrals. Your goal is to become visible, credible, and an obvious first choice for your ideal clients.
Here is a checklist for building thought leadership online.
Choose the right platforms
LinkedIn and Facebook are two of the biggest social media platforms when it comes to professional presence. Evaluate how your clients, prospects, and peers use them, and select what will be the best fit for your market and your firm.
Yelp, Google+, Glassdoor, and other websites and applications may be relevant for your firm, as well. Look at your online presence holistically, and be sure all the pieces support your overall brand strategy.
Create valuable, relevant, and shareable content
Content quality and consistency are cornerstones of your social media strategy.
Start with what you already know. Tie that knowledge into a persistent problem, recent trend, or a common desire shared by your audience. Your goal is to choose an area that will support your efforts over the long term.
Pay attention to your target market by observing and listening. What topics are interesting to your audience? What challenges do they face? What do they celebrate?
Be generous with your ideas. Accountants are often concerned that if they give all of their best ideas away, competitors will copy them, or clients will be able to fix the problem themselves. In reality, you have spent years honing your expertise, methodologies, and ideas – no one can steal that.
Compile a content calendar to keep you on track – your goal is to become a regular, reliable presence for your audience. Just as magazine editors and TV show producers do, plan your content several weeks or even months ahead. Think about themes and flow, and map out your online media plan – so that you never have to scramble for a blog post topic again.
Here is a partial list of online tools you can consider for sharing your content. Start with one or two, and focus on making them a regular part of your professional practice. As you get comfortable with them, add more if you like. Automate as much as you can.
- Blogging in a specialty niche can be a great way to stay in touch with your audience. A blog calendar is critical to putting out regular content.
- Use case studies to highlight a client’s challenge, solution, and outcomes in a way that connects with prospective clients and builds expertise and trust.
- White papers can contain original research on a hot topic of value to the audience, or your thoughts and recommendations.
- Video blogging is a good fit for some accountants.
- Curated content from industry sources can add value by saving your audience research time.
- Expert guest bloggers in an area adjacent to yours position you as a trusted advisor with a valuable and deep network of experts.
- Articles in relevant trade publications add another layer of validation and recognition to your name.
Leverage partners and centers of influence
No matter what platforms you select, spend time identifying partners and centers of influence, and building relationships with them.
Promote across platforms
Simply putting content out is not enough to get the traction you need. Promote and share it through cross-platform posts, email campaigns, and newsletters.
Collect endorsements and testimonials
Endorsements and reviews from clients and business partners are powerful tools for building a reputation. Prospects may not believe you, but they will believe others who have worked with you.
Become a source for soundbites and quotes
If your skill-set includes the ability to quickly and succinctly summarize what is most important, challenging, and actionable, consider building relationships with editors and reporters. If your soundbites are catchy, and you are available on a short notice to comment on a recent development, you can position yourself as the go-to source for article quotes.
Take it offline
Think of your professional presence holistically to round out your online efforts with those off-line. Speaking and networking can give you writing material, promote your firm, and position you as an expert.
In closing, remember that social media is not about immediate sales. It is about building trust and relationships, both of which develop over time. Think of social media as a permanent footprint. Your blogs, articles, and videos will continue to work for you long after they have been posted.