Best social media tools for accountants

Social media is like anything in life - you get out of it what you put into it. There are so many sites out there though, that it can be difficult for an accountant to know where to start.

But Exact marketing director Mark Appel explained in a talk at this year's Accountex what tips, tools and techniques practitioners can use to get them on the way to expanding their online connections and winning new business. 

By now, most firms and sole practitioners may be on professional social sites such as LinkedIn and also more informal ones like Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

But to win business and connect with prospects, accountants need to both share knowledge and know where to look to interact with the right people.

Appel is a self-confessed...

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Comments
carnmores's picture

mark appel

carnmores | | Permalink

Is not a fair comparator to most small or sole practices his relationship to his clients is not like ours, but i shall look at flipboard so thanks Rachael

johnjenkins's picture

What do you think

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Mr Lee?

nice post

kellyanstee | | Permalink

was hoping for something NEW in here! Is a great post though :)

bookmarklee's picture

@johnjenkins    2 thanks

bookmarklee | | Permalink

Hello John

Like you, I think, my heart sinks when I see articles on here about social media. But probably for different reasons to you John.

My concern is that all too often the articles or comments are generic and overhype the value of social media to accountants. On this occasion however Rachael's report of Mark Appel's comments suggests that we share much the same views. 

Like him I am also pretty active across a range of social media and Linkedin. Like him I use time saving systems and processes. Unlike him I do not consider myself a social media addict.

I agree with the advice he shares - with my standard caveat: you do not NEED to get active or involved in social media. When I write and speak on the subject I do so without the hype that accompanies so many presentations from so-called gurus and experts.

In my view some social media activity can be helpful for some accountants. Some social media sites can be useful for some accountants. Some sites can even be fun for some accountants.

But if you already have a practice that generates the income you want, you are only doing work you enjoy, for clients you like who pay you the fees you deserve to earn, just carry on doing what you do. If your clients aren't on social media and you have no interest in the concept, that's fine with me.

I will continue to share my thoughts in an effort to help everyone who wants to better understand the options and opportunities of social media. 

Mark

leppam's picture

Txs for this addition Mark.

leppam | | Permalink

Txs for this addition Mark. That's the nice thing about this type of media, do don't need to join and as a user you are always in control by yourself! 

johnjenkins's picture

Isn't having a conversation

johnjenkins | | Permalink

one to one with a client face to face social media. You don't have to have all the "gimmicks" (yes I do like that word) to converse and get across the message you want to (you only have to look at Prince Charles and Mr Putin to work out that social media is not always good, but who said there's no such thing as "bad publicity").

The article doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know (even those at school know the difference between passing on a note and sending a tex).

So, please, you lot stop trying to bring marketing into a profession that deals with somebodies business and livelihood. 

bookmarklee's picture

Not sure I follow you John

bookmarklee | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

Isn't having a conversation one to one with a client face to face social media. 

Having a face to face 1-2-1 conversation with someone is just that. 

Interacting with people on one or more social media sites, if done for marketing reasons, is best seen simply as a way to filter with whom you will subsequently have 1-2-1 conversations offline.

johnjenkins wrote:

So, please, you lot stop trying to bring marketing into a profession that deals with somebodies business and livelihood. 

You and I seem to have very different views as to what marketing means. I do not accept that the only acceptable form of marketing is to hope for loads of client referrals - or even to encourage them. And, frankly, I don't know anyone else who feels that all other forms of marketing are inappropriate for professionally qualified accountants.

You are entitled to your view of course John. But it's evidently a minority view and it should be clear by now that you are not going to convince me or the editors of AccountingWeb. Upto you if you think it's a good use of your time to keep repeating your mantra of course.

Mark

 

henrytapper's picture

Measures of success    2 thanks

henrytapper | | Permalink

Posting content on social media sites gives you immediate feedback both on what you're saying and how you're saying.

The views, likes and occasional abuse you get as feedback help you understand your clients and potential clients.

I recently posted a series of "how to"guides on linked in , Incisive's Financial Library and our own website. We got radically different results. This was interesting from a marketing perspective as we were able to see which groups (we targeted IFAs, practitioners, in-house payroll managers and Finance Directors.

For us, digital marketing is everything as our service is about delivering information so that customers can make informed choices. 

So for us, social media is the way we understand what our customer-base wants and how they want it delivered.

I've found trying to sell products on any social media platform quickly rebounds and those who do (and we know) quickly lose goodwill.

So we measure our success in terms of views and levels of engagement and build our business around what other people think.

 

johnjenkins's picture

Hey Mark

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Good to hear you're coming back with some sort of effort.

I'm in the minority - really? Isn't that what the Tories and Labour said of UKIP?

Brace yourself for change, Mark, the days of what you believe to be the b all and end all are coming to an end. People are fed up with having "marketing" shoved in their face constantly. They are also becoming wiser as to the "marketing techniques" that make them part with their money.

There is no place in the Accountancy profession for any form of marketing. Be honest, Mark, ask yourself the question. If all this technical wizardry wasn't forced upon us by government and the financial institutions how many Accountants would prefer to have stayed as they were? The answer is a lot more than you would expect.

Now I have to temper that with the youngsters who have come into the profession with not a clue what I am talking about. So to those I say "When dealing with clients, don't look for the angles (a way you can get more money out of them). Do not lose sight of what went into the figures you are looking at (pieces of paper tell you all you want to know about your client). Be professional and honest at all times (if you don't know the answer to a clients question tell them you don't know). These measures will ensure that your business grows and sustains that growth.

bookmarklee's picture

We're not as far apart as you imagine John

bookmarklee | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

Brace yourself for change, Mark, the days of what you believe to be the b all and end all are coming to an end.

My views have been evolving and changing for years. Have yours?

johnjenkins wrote:

People are fed up with having "marketing" shoved in their face constantly.

Agreed. This is one reason why you never see me telling accountants what they MUST do. Unlike some other commentators.

johnjenkins wrote:

They are also becoming wiser as to the "marketing techniques" that make them part with their money.

Agreed. And a number of my articles and talks reinforce that view. Not all marketing techniques are worthwhile investments for accountants.

johnjenkins wrote:

There is no place in the Accountancy profession for any form of marketing.

As noted above, here we disagree.

johnjenkins wrote:

When dealing with clients, don't look for the angles (a way you can get more money out of them). Do not lose sight of what went into the figures you are looking at (pieces of paper tell you all you want to know about your client). Be professional and honest at all times (if you don't know the answer to a clients question tell them you don't know). These measures will ensure that your business grows and sustains that growth.

Again, I absolutely agree with you. I have long recommended that accountants look for ways to help their clients and to be seen to be keen to help their clients. This is a much more professional and attractive stance to adopt rather than one that looks to sell more services.

Mark

johnjenkins's picture

Good stuff

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Mark.

my views only change when something drastic happens, e.g. common market (EFTA) - great, federal Europe - crap.

I believe your talents are totally wasted, Mark. I would like to see you lead an Accountancy led revolution against HMRC (not the people) and how Government tax our society. Somewhere in that "marketing" brain of yours is a REAL voice just waiting to escape the rut you are in. No doubt you have come up against brick walls when dealing with tax matters in the past but I think now is the time to focus your immense knowledge and capacity for stating the obvious, perhaps with a little help from your friends, on changing our totally outdated way of collecting money to run the country. (This is a genuine post not a piss take).

SterlingAmounts's picture

Why?    2 thanks

SterlingAmounts | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

There is no place in the Accountancy profession for any form of marketing.

Why should accountants not market their services? That's what business is all about, setting up a great service, letting people know who you are and what you do (marketing! many different forms available, professional all the way through to very informal) and then you can provide your great professional service.

If we cant market our services simply because of "professionalism" where will the next generation of accountancy firms come from? Whoever has the largest office in a prime location? (which surely is also a form of marketing/advertising!)

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

@sterlingamounts

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Where will the next generation of Accountancy firms come from? 

You miss the point entirely. The reason why banks have lost their professionalism and people have no trust in them any more is purely because of marketing.

The Accountancy profession doesn't need marketing. Nearly all new business comes from "word of mouth". What has happened is that the "big boys" have got too big and are now facing "shoddy" work. Evasion schemes etc. It's all part and parcel of not being professional.

Do you really think that we need to be told "how to make more money out of your clients by you marketing different services". If you need to be told that then you shouldn't be in practice.

 

SterlingAmounts's picture

@Johnjenkins    1 thanks

SterlingAmounts | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

 Nearly all new business comes from "word of mouth". 

Maybe I am missing your point, I'm saying there is nothing wrong with accountants engaging in activities to market themselves to new potential clients. Nothing shoddy, no evasion schemes or anything like that.

Also your quote of new business coming by word of mouth should be your new clients come by word of mouth. Personally 80% of my new business comes from advertising in different forms and that's into 3 digits of clients in the last year. Hopefully down the line I can rely on word of mouth more but can't see why I would ever choose to stop marketing and advertising my services to people who have never heard of me.

I get where you are coming from (read some of your other thread posts with Mark too) but think you are very rigid in your thoughts. Surely there is an area between professionalism and marketing that we should be somewhere in between the two in order to thrive and still provide a reputable professional service. 

Lastly people with no friends need accountants! You're leaving them out entirely ! :-D

johnjenkins's picture

@sterlingamounts

johnjenkins | | Permalink

I would rather have clients come from "word of mouth" than through any other form.

With respect, the fact that 80% of your business comes from advertising and not word of mouth leads me to suspect that you have to advertise to get clients. You say hopefully down the line you can rely on "word of mouth". That really is an Accountant I would not want to use.

The rigidity comes from what I have seen over the past 50 years in the Accountancy profession. Standards have been eroded, mainly by "marketing groups who have "sold" courses which promise "at the end you will be an Accountant". 

I do not see marketing and the Accountancy profession side by side.

To be able to "advise" clients on their business a certain amount of training has to be gone through and I don't just mean Qualifications.

I have no objection to bookkeepers, payroll bureaus etc. marketing in any way shape or form.

To some I probably would appear a snob, but I am protective of a profession that I don't want to see go down the road as banks and injury, conveyancing lawyers/solicitors.

johnjenkins's picture

@sterlingamounts and Mark Lee

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Let's look at this from another angle.

The financial services industry was a complete mess. Everybody was allowed to sell any investment etc. to anybody. So they decide to bring a bit of professionalism into the industry. You have to pass stringent exams (I've tried them) in order to financially advise clients.

Now look at the banks. They were a very professional outfit until "marketing" (which in my view means getting more money out of clients, just like HMRC are doing) took them down the wrong road.

Once you start bringing marketing into the professions you automatically go down the wrong route because you are automatically thinking of how you can make more money. 

bookmarklee's picture

We are clearly going to have to agree to disagree

bookmarklee | | Permalink

I can live with that John and hope you can too. I appreciate your mind is made up and I respect and accept that.

johnjenkins wrote:

Once you start bringing marketing into the professions you automatically go down the wrong route because you are automatically thinking of how you can make more money. 

Professional marketing has been an integral part of how the professions have generated work and fees for many years. King Canute couldn't stop the tide now if he wanted to.

Mark

johnjenkins's picture

Ah Mark

johnjenkins | | Permalink

that is where we do disagree. I do not think that professional marketing has generated the amount of work and fees that you would imply.

The tax system is so complicated that most business have to have an Accountant. It's just which one they choose is where you think the marketing comes in. However I think that most are generated (I include solicitors in this as well) by word of mouth "who do you use and are you happy with them".

 

henrytapper's picture

Mass marketing

henrytapper | | Permalink

Occasionally we get changes which touch every employer in the land.

I suppose RTI was one, auto-enrolment is another.

With around 1.3m employers in the UK affected by these changes, there need to be mass market tools to talk with such a disconnected audience.

When trying to get to the entire business community, a website like accountingweb is the best way to get messages out.

Firms like mine who are offering a "one and go" service, do not have any pretensions to developing a relationship with our customers- we want employers to buy and impliment so for us , social media is not about relationship building (though we have to build confidence)

 

 

I met a farmer who tells me he uses twitter and the hashtag #hectare to communicate. His model is exactly the opposite, twitter brings farmers together to discuss common issues and is all about relationships.

 

I mention these two social media stories to demonstrate how diversely social media can be used. We need to be tolerant of this diversity and enjoy it!

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

@henrytapper

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Know exactly where you're coming from and that is why we do not need marketing in our Accountancy profession. Payroll etc. yep fine. being an Accountant is all about building a trusting, long lasting relationship. Anything else, then please don't call yourself an Accountant.