In an age when social media is booming and new business is more sought after than scoring a seat behind home plate at the Yankees game, using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media remains one of the more underutilized and undervalued tools in the accounting profession.
Most firms and companies have two schools of thought: gung-ho young professionals who are all for social media and older, seasoned partners who might think social media is a time waster because it’s a non-billable activity.
As a young professional, you may think social media is only good for texting to confirm a dinner date or to post your brother's graduation pics on Facebook. Think again! The more you put into social media, the more you'll get out of it, especially when you are social with other accountants.
While marketing and advertising are two ways accountants can increase business, social media is a way that can indirectly accomplish both. Gimmicky slogans and cliché promises can now be replaced by developing relationships with others, demonstrating your insight and expertise, and dictating the vision behind your work with a warm, personal touch.
If this sounds like someone you want to meet and network with to exchange referrals, then you’re beginning to see why social media is important and very worthwhile for business.
You might be avoiding using social media for business because you don’t feel you have the time or want to take the time to wait for results. A social media survey conducted by the Social Media Examiner in 2012 showed that, of the more than 3,500 marketers polled, 74% found traffic increased with as little as spending 6 hours a week on social media marketing. What are a few hours compared with developing hot referrals and potential clients? Not much.
Social media is the perfect platform for your brand—and that starts with looking at social media as a way to improve the way you interact with colleagues and even your clients.
Communication is a paramount part of success in accounting. In order to be your clients’ advisor, you must build trust and convince them that you know exactly what they need and understand everything about their business. Moreover, you must be able to write, speak, and present well so that your network and clients believe you have the professional skill-set that warrants a relationship with you.
Social Media to Consider
Everyday, there are more and more social media applications and tools available, so where do you start? Stick to the basics for now and then expand once you’re seeing results.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: We’ve all heard about the social media “Big 3,” but accountants must know how to use them to help their businesses. On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can create a page for your company. This will serve as a business profile where your peers can learn about your company’s story, products, and services, all while engaging with you and building relationships.
While Facebook is generally a more personal-engaging platform, LinkedIn is great for personal interaction and business purposes. There are many discussion groups to join to provide industry insight, seek advice, and continue to develop quality relationships with your peers that could lead to future business. With thousands of groups, finding the right one for you can be a challenge, so this might help you weed them out.
Twitter allows you to follow others, provide links to your firm’s site and company page, and write about industry news or developments in your own business. On Twitter, you can “tweet” multiple times a day or even as often as you like. Twitter is searchable by keywords, so while not everyone will find each post interesting or helpful, chances are, something will catch your audience’s attention. Make sure the messages are carefully scripted and well planned. Engage with your audience by responding to their comments and getting to know them better.
Videos: Videos are a great way to spread information. You can use them to provide tips and tutorials to your clients. You can also use them to introduce you and your staff, so that your clients and peers feel a personal connection. Videos can be linked to all three of the social media websites listed above, as well as your own firm website.
Blogs: Blogs are an excellent way to get your professional opinion “out there.” They are often 200-300 words long, and tackle current or breaking news that you feel your clients would be interested in, while providing your take on the matter at hand. This platform will take more time and creativity, but can be very rewarding. If your client trusts you or a prospect is considering engaging you, a well-written, well-informed blog can make the world of difference. This is a perfect word-of-mouth approach.
You may not make $10,000 per tweet like Kim Kardashian, create a viral video that reaches 1.6 billion views like Gangnam style, or grow your firm overnight on LinkedIn, but engaging in social media will help improve your business and demonstrate to other accountants—valuable referral sources—your knowledge and expertise. Seize the moment and take advantage of it today.
We’ve all read how a consistently professional social media profile increases your personal brand. If you have lessons learned the hard way, or a few tried and true tips, we’d love to hear your story.