While it is true that most people hire accountants based on the recommendations of their friends and family, there is still a relatively large portion that take to social media in search of accountants. This portion will only grow in size as time goes by and this makes it very clear that accounting professionals need to promote their services on social media, whether they are individual accountants or agencies that employ dozens or even hundreds of accountants.
So, how do you do it? How can accountants make it on social media?
Find the right social network
Social networks differ greatly depending on a number of factors and one very important factor is the demographics of each of the social networks. For example, LinkedIn has almost twice the amount of male profiles as it has female ones. Twitter is mostly used by younger crowds while Facebook is simply the largest network in the world, frequented by the most people.
Because of this, you need to identify the social networks that your clients and your potential clients frequent. The easiest way to do this is to talk to your existing clients, as well as your friends and family who might be interested in using social media to find and interact with accountants.
By doing so, you will probably identify two or three social media channels to focus on, but you should never forget about those that might not have been mentioned, like for instance YouTube which an actually be extremely useful, but we'll get to that later.
Establish a constant presence
Being on social media does not have to require too much time, but you should still find the time to be constant on social media. If you, for instance, start a Twitter account, make sure to be active at least a few times a day. Your activity can include retweeting interesting news from the industry or engaging with your existing clients. The important thing is that people are exposed to your brand constantly.
You should do this with all of your accounts, keeping all of them active as constantly as you can afford to.
Another thing to worry about is tailoring your messages according to the network in question. Twitter, for example, is for quicker, less serious messages and announcements. Facebook can be used to tell a story or share something longer. On LinkedIn, you will keep things professional and serious.
Sometimes it might feel a bit overwhelming doing all kinds of these varied messages, but doing one thing across all social networks definitely comes across as lazy and that is the last thing you want to do.
Go with varied content
Social network users have become consumers of content and they all but expect accounts they follow to produce content for them on a regular basis. The good thing is that this means they will engage with you and your content, as long as you produce something that is worth their time.
This is one of the main reasons why all accountants and accountancy firms need blogs – so that they have the initial depository of content that they will share on social media. Still, even if you do not have a blog, you can come up with content and engage your followers on social media.
For accountants, one of the best things to do is to provide helpful tips and advice, especially when certain big events happen or when laws change, affecting the accountancy industry. People are on a lookout for clarifications at times like that and your social media profiles are the perfect place to provide them.
You can also host social media Q&A's where you invite your followers to ask you questions about their accountancy needs. You can turn this into discussions on Facebook or Twitter or you can even make video chats where you will broadcast your conversations to your other followers.
Another way to go is to make your social media accounts feel more personal and feature stories about your accountants and their private lives. This will make your company stand out as a place where real people work, instead of yet another accountancy agency which are more or less interchangeable in people's minds.
Don't sell, sell, sell
One of the biggest mistakes any corporate entity can make on social media is to turn various channels into billboards for their brand. There is a time and place for traditional advertisements and these are traditional media and ad spaces on websites.
Social media networks are not meant to be used for advertisements.
Of course, there will be times when you will share a few things about how you do things and invite people to give you a call or visit your website, but this should not be the majority of your social media presence. To stay on the safe side, go with a 75:25 ratio where you talk about your services and call your followers to action only 25% of the time.
Even people who know nothing about social media marketing understand it is important to use visual content on social networks in order to catch people's attention. Unless a tweet is accompanied by a picture, a gif or a video, the chances are people will skip it without even noticing it. The same is true for Facebook. Even LinkedIn articles feature pictures.
While pictures work fine, to really make in impact, you should start producing videos. For example, you can make a short one-minute video about the latest change to the tax law and post it across your social networks. You can even create an entire YouTube channel where you will answer people's questions or simply share your insights into the industry.
While sticking to these tips will definitely help you spread the word about your accountancy business, the most important thing to do is to continue learning about social media marketing and reading up on material from the experts in the industry.
Social media marketing changes rapidly and the only way to stay in the loop is to be very vigilant. Rebecca who writes for Online Accountant has had great success with social selling for their practice.