Making the Most of Social Media and Your Website
Social media offers accountants an unprecedented ability to reach their audience and forge connections and trust. However, many have been reluctant to join the social media parade. With the multitude of platforms available today, and more added every year, which ones do you choose? Is it worth the effort? How can you possibly keep up?
Many accounting firms have found that strategic use of social media helps them get insight into clients’ thinking, strengthens their image as industry experts, and generates greater exposure. How do they get it to work? Here are some guidelines.
Start with strategic goals in mind
You must start with a strategic look at your goals, and think about how social media can help you reach them. Be realistic: it is unlikely that your practice will double its revenue simple because you have joined Twitter or re-aligned your website. Social media and online presence can be important parts of your overall branding, prospecting, and marketing strategy – but they must fit into the big-picture view first.
You may choose to use a blog to drive visitors to your website, or Twitter to stay in touch with clients. Be clear on what you want to accomplish, and set measurable benchmarks if you can.
Be clear about your target audience to choose your platforms wisely
With the wealth of platform options available, it can be tempting to try them all. Facebook and LinkedIn are most popular, offering the option of creating an individual professional or company presence online. Whether you chose one or the other (or both), be sure they present a consistent image, and offer links to each other and to your firm’s website.
A key piece of social media is the “social” aspect of it. To be effective and efficient with the use of your time and resources, you must chose the platforms that matter to your target audience. If none of your clients use Twitter for business, your capacity for impact in that area is diminished. Instead, go where they go.
On the same note, observe whether your audience accesses the platform of your choice on a mobile device or a computer. If one or the other is predominant, tailor the format of your content for their convenience.
Aim for consistency to maximize long-term results
It is better to handpick a few tools and use them consistently than to have a lackluster presence across a multitude of platforms. Choose one or two to start, and commit to making them a regular part of your workflow. Beyond the initial learning curve, social media presence does not have to be extremely time-consuming – short touchpoints on a regular basis work best.
Some accountants have found that blogging and creating YouTube video content can be effective in connecting with their audiences to share insight and advice. Consider the appeal of those platforms to your client base, and generate content regularly for best results. Simply creating the content is not enough – be sure that you and your staff share it through e-mail campaigns, newsletters, or cross-platform posting.
Create content that adds value
Beyond simply sharing links and writing posts, be sure to focus on what matters to your clients. Do they want market analysis, business efficiency tips, or insights into recent HR research?
Start with the hot-button topics, and create content that is timely, relevant, and valuable. Look at trending topics within your area of expertise on Google, and get feedback from your audience to course-correct as needed.
Optimize your website, and offer a call to action
Many accountants approach their website as an opportunity to have an online resume and service menu. The problem is that we don’t consume online information the same way we read brochures. Eliminate lengthy write-ups in favor of bullet points, lists, visuals, and videos.
Provide your clients and prospects with a clear path through the content by asking yourself, “What do I want my visitor to do next?”
One of the more extreme examples of this is Google – once you land on the page, the obvious next step is to do a search! Google offers accountants a valuable lesson: when faced with too many options, confused people do nothing. Aim to guide your visitors through your website as you would through your office, and you will improve their attention span and your results.
Depending on the platforms you select, you may be tracking the number of exposures, clicks, likes, shares, or the length of time the visitor spends on your website. Short-term view may not offer you enough trend for meaningful analysis, so give a strategy 3 to 6 months to accumulate relevant data.