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 social media addict, who demonstrated his sleek, time-saving process for managing his multiple social media sites.
Some of the thinking behind why he spends so much time harnessing social media includes:
- Listen first, then share and engage: Join sites you find most relevant to you and take a while to assimilate yourself to how it works. Follow people you think are interesting and learn how they engage
- Find instead of search: Appel explained that the benefit of having so many connections across the sites relevant to him and his interests (marketing, triathlons and technology) means that he doesn't have to search for information on the web any more - it comes to him. The same principle could apply to accountants - building a wide network of connections, Twitter followers and Facebook 'likers' and sharing interesting and relevant content means prospects may eventually come to you
- Knowledge without connections is useless: Appel said that this is because the ability to share wisdom, experiences and insight is one reason people are more likely to engage with you on social media. In addition to useful links and information for prospects and clients, sharing a part of your personal life, such as a hobby you enjoy or a snap of you and your family makes people realise you're not a brand or a machine, and will encourage them to speak to you more
- Focus on the Simon Sinek ideology of 'Why': Keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing. Why are you on social media, what are you looking for and why do you want it (i.e. I want to interact with my current clients, to build better relationships with them)? When you focus on why you're doing something, you're more likely to not lose interest in it
While you want to make an effort on social media, practitioners lead busy professional lives. To minimise time spent sharing, engaging and posting on these sites, Appel suggested a number of tools to use to keep everything ticking over:
- Flipboard - This is an app that allows you to enter topics you find interesting, and it will gather news and online resources relevant to those and present them in a digital magazine format. Not only is it good for keeping up to speed with your industry but it allows you to share interesting items easily, as it integrates with your social media accounts
- Pocket - A similar app to Flipboard, Pocket allows you to save any interesting papers, documents, videos or articles for yourself to read at a later date and presents them in an easily digestible format
- Klout - This is a marketing tool, whereby you can see how influential you're being online in your chosen area (i.e. capital allowances specialists, accountants in Bristol), via your 'Klout' score. The more reputation you have on here, the more people will see you as being trusted enough to interact with you
- Hootsuite - This is possibly the most useful in terms of managing your profiles. Within this tool you can add your various social media sites, and view what's happening in each from one dashboard. It also allows you to post content or links across multiple platforms at different or the same times - meaning you can schedule tweets, Facebook posts, in advance
What's your favourite social media tool?