When you take a closer look at the recent popularity of blogs and twitter you might realize there are many similarities to Costner’s baseball diamond in attracting a targeted audience to your firm through cyberspace. Ponder on these stats that continue to grow exponentially:
- 133,000,000 — number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002
- 346,000,000 —number of people globally who read blogs
- 900,000 — average number of blog posts in a 24-hour period
- 77 percent — percentage of active Internet users who read blogs
- 59 percent — percentage of bloggers who have been blogging for at least two years
- 1,111,991,000 — number of tweets to date (see an up-to-the minute count here)
- 3,000,000 — number of tweets per day
Are You in on the Action?
Like Costner, you and other firm leaders may be asking similar questions as you consider adding social media tools such as blogs and twitter to your marketing mix.
- Why should our firm build a blog?
- Will tweeting be a waste of time and money?
- Will anyone read and follow it?
- What results can I expect?
Firms Cash in on Success
It’s no secret that social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn are helping professionals stay connected in the new economy. What you might not realize is with purposeful action, adding blogs and twitter to your firm’s marketing mix can help produce amazing results.
Let’s take a look at successes of some of the industry’s veteran “bloggers” and “tweeters.”
“Social media has allowed us to better balance the business development activities of our CPAs,” said Eric Majchrzak, marketing manager at Buffalo, NY-based Freed Maxick & Battaglia, CPAs. “It used to be that the rainmakers were the only ones networking and bringing in new business. Now, even more of our technical CPAs have the ability to make in-roads with growing a network and bringing in new business.”
“We get an average of two prospects per day coming from Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which includes social media,” remarked Andrew Rose, director of marketing and business development at Timonium, MD-based Naden/Lean, LLC. “Specifically to twitter and our blog we are able to articulate case studies that resonate with prospects. Often we’ve been contacted by a prospect who read a blog post that we tweeted about and in it, saw a reflection of their situation. Now they want us to help them. The fact we have hundreds of followers/fans who act as ambassadors rebroadcasting our content has been a bonus.”
“We receive hundreds of qualified leads from social media in combo with search engine optimization annually. We can track our leads. We regularly achieve high six-figures of new business revenue each year from our Web efforts precisely because we have integrated social media into our marketing mix,” pointed out Majchrzak. “It has meant millions of dollars of new sales for our firm since we started these efforts in 2005. It has increased our Web traffic levels by 25 percent to 30 percent each year. We are now nationally competitive on the Web for many services, even against the large regional and national firms.”
Move From Fear to Found
As firms consider entering the social media environment, fear often kicks in. You are not alone. The biggest concerns I hear from firms looking to blog and tweet include: What if no one follows us? What if no one responds to our blog posts? What if our productivity goes down as professionals get more involved? Not much different from Costner or even you when your firm built its first web site.
“Good news! It doesn’t always matter if people respond to your posts,” said Rose. “Remember, the more you blog and tweet as a part of your overall social media strategy, the better chance you have of being found. For starters, you will advance in search engine rankings.” In other words your firm will move closer to the top of search engine lists such as Google and Bing when Web visitors enter phrases aligning with your firm’s areas of focus, such as “dental CPAs” or “state and local tax advisors.”
“Blogs and twitter combined provide a one-two punch that drive qualified leads through engagement,” said Majchrzak. “Opportunities generated via social media are often ‘warmer’ than traditional lead-generation methods. Additionally, these leads often have shorter sales cycles because potential buyers are closer to making purchasing decisions, which maximizes the chargeable hours of our partners.”
Bottom line: It just makes it easier for people looking for your expertise to find you. Once they find you, you’re one step closer to “cashing in” on new business.
Getting started is often the hardest part. Consider these steps.
- Designate someone to manage your social media strategy. Like any major initiative you need a leader to breathe life into the project. Enlist someone who is interested in and committed to making things happen over time.
- Give it a test drive. Work with other bloggers and tweeters to see if these strategies are right for you.
- Develop an overall social media plan. Blogging and tweeting are just part of an overall social media plan.Outline what you want to achieve. “We entered the social media universe with the sole intention of dominating the white (organic) search space on Google, preferably the top 10 results,” admitted Rose.
- Align your social media plan with overall business development goals. If you want to grow the firm’s dental practice, for example, and want to attract potential clients in specific areas, craft your strategy around similar businesses/individuals achieving the same specific goals.
- Reserve your firm’s name. Even if you do not plan to blog or tweet right now or in the future, go online and register your name. “It’s like the Internet when it was young, so reserve your firm’s name,” quipped Rose.
- Commit to regular, ongoing activity. You do not have to blog or tweet every day, but it is important to do something on a regular, consistent basis. Add a new blog post once every week to 10 days for the first month or two. Tweet at least once a week. Over time you will find a routine that works.
- Stay focused on execution. Many initiatives start out with good intentions, but eventually fail because there is a lack of commitment to executing the plan. For initiatives to produce the types of results that Rose’s and Majchrzak’s firms have experienced requires you to stay focused and take purposeful action.
It Takes Time
“As with any new endeavor, you should allocate a minimum of 18 months to start seeing the full results,” said Rose. “With tweeting and blogging, we began to see substantive results after four months.”
With any new initiative, solid results take time, even in cyberspace where information transfers happen at the press of a button. Results vary depending on your goals and the amount of focused effort you exert.
“You can see modest results within a year. However, it has taken us five years to seven years to achieve results within the seven-figure range annually. It has been a game-changer. We started a robust search engine optimization initiative in 2003 and jumped into social in 2005,” said Majchrzak.
If you Blog (and Tweet) It, They Will Come
Is it time to take a closer look at adding blogs, twitter and other social media to your marketing mix? Are you ready to ramp up your business development results by joining the blog and tweetosphere? Once you start seeing results you just might wonder, “What took me so long?”
To learn more about adding blogs, twitter and other social media to your firm’s marketing mix, read Bull’s-Eye! The Ultimate How-to Marketing and Sales Guide for CPAs.
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Tracy Crevar Warren is the founder of The Crevar Group and helps professional service firms win more business and build profitable services. She is a sought-after consultant, facilitator, author and speaker. With a proven track record and positive high-energy style, she inspires and empowers local, regional, national and international groups to do more of the work they love. She has just finished working on her first book Bull's-Eye! The Ultimate How-to Marketing and Sales Guide for CPAs produced by the AICPA. Warren can be reached at 336-889-GROW (4769).