Accounting: Best Social Media Practices for the Accounting Industry
Any businessperson seeking clients should utilize the best tools for marketing and communications at their disposal, and CPAs are no different. Today's tools for establishing and enhancing a professional brand, establishing one's expertise in their field, and increasing visibility to potential clients are social media networks and other social-powered tools on the Web.
Some things to consider before creating a presence in social media channels are:
- Pay attention to any industry rules or regulations that could affect how you engage in social networks. Check with your professional networks for any guidelines that they can offer to keep you on track.
- Identify the tools and channels you want to use and establish your accounts carefully to ensure you are presenting yourself in the most professional light.
- Use a professional, friendly photograph on each of your social media presences to present an accessible and engaging image.
- Plan what you are going to publish online and how you will communicate with others to establish yourself as professional, authoritative and trustworthy.
- Focus on your area of expertise and use your posts to showcase your knowledge and experience.
- Share useful and educational information with others to become a trusted resource to those who follow you or connect with you in some other way through social networks.
To avoid legal issues, stay clear of posting or commenting on anything pertaining to legal issues or situations. Instead, defer and point to neutral information from reputable sources well versed in those areas.
If someone comes to you seeking advice, establish some boundaries from the start to be clear about when friendly advice ends and professional consulting begins. Don't let there be any gray areas. Be careful about giving individualized advice. Some people will not know when to stop asking for free advice, particularly online where boundaries can be unclear, so it is up to you to put your foot down early on and turn a query into a client.
Popular social networks can be useful communications and marketing platforms for a CPA, particularly to highlight expertise. Post quick and useful tips that reflect your area of expertise. Link to articles you find on relevant accounting topics that demonstrate you are keeping apprised of the latest developments in finance and accounting. Take a look at what other accountants are doing in these popular social media channels and look for ways you can set yourself apart.
Remember that whatever you publish online can be distributed quickly and easily so take care not to post confidential information or something that could be viewed as unprofessional. Just as social media tools and channels can be powerful reputation builders, they can also spread bad news and information even faster than good. Always think twice before hitting the "submit" or "publish" button online, even in private forums or amongst colleagues, friends and family.
Think of your social media presences as gateways to your website, your blog if you are blogging and most importantly, to you. In all of your interactions through social media, stay consistent, be professional, and don't get bogged down in trying to be everywhere all the time. Get into a routine of checking the conversations in your networks, publish some useful information, respond to direct messages from others, then stepping away from those networks and getting back to work.