Head of Accounting & Sales Development Practice Ignition
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Build your firm’s social media strategy

13th Mar 2017
Head of Accounting & Sales Development Practice Ignition
Columnist
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Trent McLaren covers the three steps that should form the foundation of every firm's social media strategy.

The year is 2017 and it’s very clear that winning new clients is never going to be the same as it was 10 years ago. Customers today are smarter than ever before and billions of them are logging into social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter every single day.

Did you know that just over 1 million new accounts are created every day on these social sites?

Advertising and marketing have changed as we know it, and for traditional accounting firms, we know that finding new customers in the future needs to incorporate a social media strategy. This is non-negotiable if you are an accounting firm looking grow your business.

If you feel lost, confused or unsure where to start with social media you are not alone. We’re not all put on this planet to be genius marketers, but with a few simple tips and tricks you can transform your firm into a professional, approachable business and position yourself in front of your target audience: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The common theme I hear is “I don’t know how to use social media" and "I think I’m too old for it” or “I don’t have time to be on social media - we’re too busy”. I’ve heard every excuse under the sun for why firms aren’t leveraging social media as part of their marketing mix.

But when you look at Practice Award winning firms like Tayabali Tomlin (@tayabalitomlin), you can see a great example of a firm that has been able to grow their business worldwide, removing geographical barriers using social media marketing. It’s a tried and true method by many firms around the world and there’s no reason why your accounting firm can’t be among these social pioneers.

And like every good initiative there needs to be a plan: we need to know who’s responsible for achieving certain tasks and we need to measure our results.

In summary, you need to:

  • Know your audience
  • Craft and document a strategy, outlining roles and responsibilities
  • Measure your results

Know your audience

Who is your ideal customer and what platforms are they on? Ask your team: (This should be a 90 minute session, trust me, you need to know this.)

  • Who are your ideal clients? How old are they? What social platforms do they use?
  • Do you lean towards medical industries? Perhaps Hospitality?
  • Do you specialise in certain type of accounting work? Compliance? Business advisory or perhaps a mixture of both.
  • These are really important points to consider. By narrowing your focus, you’ll be able to identify certain traits about these clients and discover what the leading indicators are that will help you win them over.

Use this brainstorming session with your team as part of getting everyone on board and engaged in your social strategy. The more you include them, the more likely they’ll be to buy into your social vision. Once you’ve completed the research and got the team on board you can create a social strategy.

Document a strategy

Every great piece of marketing you do will need to have had a great plan and strategy full of intention to be successful. To do this, you’ll need to:

Set your goals and expectations: These are not set in stone in phase one; they can be adjusted as you figure out what’s realistic for you and then set your expectations as you continue to track results.
Example: 10 new leads per month or 5K per month in fees. Set your benchmark and track weekly in the initial stage.

Set roles and responsibilities must be allocated: Who is responsible for posting? What time? What days? On which platform and how many days per week?
 Example: John is responsible for posting content on Tues, Weds and Thurs between 10am to 3pm. Wendy is responsible for creating or sourcing content for John to share. Lewis is responsible for following up and tracking all new leads that come through social media.

Choose what type of content you want to share online: To do this, ask yourself and your team one simple question. “What do we want our clients to know?” or “Why do our current clients love our service.” If you could get in front of 500 people what would you want to tell them in a few sentences or less?
Review your research as this will help you understand what your target audience are interested in, and what they will engage with. 

Measure your results

Remember: what gets tracked gets measured. If you truly want to be successful in social media marketing, then you must, and I mean must, track your results week on week for the first three months.

Things you could measure:

  • Number of likes
  • Number of comments; what are the main theme of the comments (good, bad, neutral)
  • Number of shares
  • Number of new leads (be sure to ask all new leads how they found you)
  • Number of new clients won through social.

With this information, you can compare the data and start to analyse any trends that may appear. If you notice that you’re winning new clients through certain types of posts, media or activities, then it’s important to double down on these activities and replicate, replicate, replicate.

You should notice that I’ve incorporated your team into this strategy. Why might you ask? Because your team is the foundation for your firm. They are the future of your business and having one person create and post all your content is not scalable and it does not create longevity in your new social initiative.
 
You may find certain team members lean into this more than others, and that’s a great thing. This could be the extra responsibility that keeps your team engaged and motivated. Especially when they start to win and see the success it brings to the business.

Tweet a photo of your team doing their 90 minute power session using #AccountingWebUKSocial and comment below with what you’ve discovered!
 

Replies (5)

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Scarlet Fletcher
By Scarlet88
14th Mar 2017 10:39

Absolutely agree with you. All we need to do is share content on our brand’s social network accounts. With the reviews, share and likes and all the information from the social medias, we can easily and faster compare the data and start to analyse any trends that may appear.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Scarlet88:
Trent McLaren
By Trent McLaren
07th Apr 2017 10:06

You've got it Scarlett, Keep it really simple. Measure everything. Pick up the trends. The next best thing, keep track of all the questions your clients call up and ask about. That's the next best thing for content curating. You'll know exactly what clients want, simply by listening to what they ask you the most :-)
Thanks for the comment

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
14th Mar 2017 17:21

Hmmm.
Great to see such a strategic approach being recommended.

I have seen so many accountants, large and small, devote uneconomic amounts of time to social media. And then measure the wrong things.

The longer term measures of leads and new clients gained through activity on social media are rarely as good as equivalent numbers of those achieved through face to face networking.

Social media can be a huge distraction for very limited gain - witness, for example, all of the moribund twitter accounts run by individual accountants and by smaller accountancy firms. They started with mistaken ideas as to what could be achieved and then gave up - even if the failure was due to not understanding how to gain value from their social media activity.

Don't get me wrong I'm a huge fan and user of social media. But accountants only get consistent value benefit if they use it strategically and with a clear idea as to who they want as clients. Are those people using social media themselves? If not....

Thanks (1)
Replying to bookmarklee:
Trent McLaren
By Trent McLaren
07th Apr 2017 10:04

Completely Agree Mark, firms using social media need to be specific on what they are trying to achieve. I'm a big twitter fan, however I'm not sure many accountants are leveraging it well enough to get new leads. Facebook and Linkedin are generally two platforms I believe firms will see more success. But not without the right intent and social behaviour. It's interesting but I find that my physical activity of actually attending conference and networking in the real world actually makes for better story telling online. Everyone's interested in who we are, what we're doing and who we're doing with, not just what we know and what we're writing about. Social dynamics these days and what triggers the brain curiosity is quite fascinating :-)
Thanks for the comment

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Replying to Trent McLaren:
Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
07th Apr 2017 11:38

One of the challenges for accountants with twitter (and much of social media) is that it's not obvious how to attract and engage with ideal audiences - typically those who are geographically local to them.

Whilst some accountants have a few clients all over the country, most people are only going to appoint a new accountant who is local to them (or who evidently specialises in clients like them).

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