Should accounting firms even bother with social media?
Aren’t Facebook and Twitter just a waste of time?
And wouldn’t accounting pages be really boring, anyway?
If you’ve been thinking about creating an engaging online presence for your accounting firm, that’s great! Social media dominates our culture and is ripe with opportunity for networking, marketing, and branding.
(Note: Halfway through this post, you’ll find a bonus resource. It’s a short video tutorial that walks you step-by-step through creating custom images for your accounting firm.)
Learning how to use social media platforms to your advantage is a crucial skill in modern marketing, and we’re here to help you figure out how to keep things interesting!
Let’s face it: most people would rarely put “accounting” and “social” in the same sentence. So accounting firms are facing a unique battle when it comes to their online presence — or is it an opportunity? [Tweet “Accounting firms face a battle when it comes to their online presence – or is it an opportunity?”]
The results of a 2014 survey by SocialCPAs and the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) shows how much and how well accounting firms are using social media platforms.
The results? Not much and not well.
The good news is that if your competitors are — and I quote — “struggling with the basics” of social media, it gives your firm an opportunity to shine! Here are 7 guidelines to help you get started.
1) Let’s Talk Basics
Posting frequently = RESULTS
Users will absolutely notice if your most recent post was from 2013, and it does more harm than good to have a stagnant, unused company page floating around on Facebook or LinkedIn.
I know what you’re thinking: “How am I supposed to find time to post to multiple social media outlets every single day? I have REAL work to do!”
The internet is full of tools to help you optimize your social media output so you aren’t glued to your smartphone all day long. Our favorites are Buffer and Social Oomph.[Tweet “Maintaining an active presence on #socialmedia doesn’t need to be time-consuming. Use @buffer.”]
These tools can help you automatically schedule your posts, find users to connect with, and analyze how well your posts are doing as you continually refine your social media strategy.
Improving your firm’s social media presence will absolutely require some time and energy, but take advantage of resources that can help you streamline the process.
2) Multi-platform Presence
In any industry, a multi-platform strategy is crucial to creating a successful online presence for your business. The aforementioned survey indicates that LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are most widely used in the accounting industry, so getting established on those three is essential.
The temptation when you’re managing a multi-platform presence is to automatically “push” content from one platform to all the others; it feels like you’re maximizing your reach and saving yourself time. The problem is that users are savvy, and it makes you look lazy and, frankly, a little dorky if you’re not taking time to curate each platform individually.
Spend some time getting to know each site and you’ll quickly see that not all content is right for every platform. Here’s your quick-start “cheat sheet” for the big three:
LinkedIn = professional, use for your most extensive networking within the industry
Facebook = social, focus on potential clients, show some personality
Twitter = quippy, to-the-point, great for quick “shout outs” to your industry colleagues
3) Deadline reminders
Reminding your followers about tax deadlines is a no-brainer for accounting firms. Especially for business owners, the various state and federal deadlines are overwhelming and confusing. Your clients will appreciate your help staying ahead of the game, and it’s a great opportunity to mention your services.
Photos are more engaging than plain text, so take a few minutes to create a custom image. Don’t overthink this. It isn’t terribly difficult to overlay your text onto a stock image of a clock or a calendar. Brand the image by using company colors for the text or adding your logo.
Don’t pirate images! This post has an extensive list of high quality free stock photo sites. You can also use online tools like Pablo or Pixlr to quickly add text and a logo to a stock image.
(Bonus Resource: Click here to download our quick video tutorial. We walk you step-by-step through creating a custom image for your accounting firm.)
4) Ask questions to engage your readers
Questions are a great marketing tool, and you can innocuously sprinkle them right into your clients’ social media feeds. When a person reads a question, his or her mind automatically begins to answer it, creating an inner dialogue that’s much harder to ignore than a simple statement or headline.
Ask a question and follow it with a statement about how your services can help the reader. For example:
- “Are you starting a small business? Call today to speak to one of our business advisors.”
- “Confused by the Affordable Healthcare Act? Our team of CPAs can help you understand how the new healthcare regulations will affect your taxes this year. Call today to make an appointment!”
5) Vary your content
The internet is not simply an advertising platform, but a social environment. If your entire page reads like a series of billboard ads, you may come off like that boring guy who’s constantly trying to promote himself at parties and social gatherings. (You know the one. Don’t be that guy.) [Tweet “Don’t be that guy. Stop treating #socialmedia like your personal billboard.”]
What do your clients care about? Accounting probably isn’t too high on their list (which is why they need you!) but personal money management and small business ownership might be two great places to start. Even if sharing a blog post about budgeting for groceries or a news article on “Small Business Saturday” doesn’t directly bring you new clients, your followers will recognize and appreciate that you care about their “big picture.”
Another angle is to respond to current events. The laws and regulations that affect taxes and finances seem to change all the time, and it can be tough for the average person to keep up. As new laws are proposed and passed, your followers are already wondering how changes to legislation will affect their family or business.
Show your readers that you’re paying attention by sharing articles that summarize legislation changes, explain the practical effects of a change for a specific group of people, or lay out the finer points of a new tax law in plain terms. Remind your followers that your firm is available to answer their questions as the landscape shifts. Timeliness is important on this one, so stay informed!
6) Make it personal
When facing a problem that requires the services of a professional, you’ve probably heard people say things like, “Oh don’t worry, I’ve got a guy for that.” Consumers love to feel like they have personal connections with their pros.
Popular stereotypes of accountants usually don’t include a lot of personality, which creates a great opportunity for you to show your humanity and come out ahead of your competitors.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Once a week, feature an employee and post a photo with a short bio. In addition to professional qualifications and specialties, include a few personal details about his or her family or hobbies. (Of course, always get permission before you share photos, and let him or her read the post before you publish it.)
- Post a photo and a casual description when the team has social events, awards banquets, holiday parties, etc.
- If your firm partners with any humanitarian or non-profit organizations, make it known. Not only will your clients love to see your involvement, it also benefits the other organization by giving them a publicity boost.
Of course, there’s a fine line between being personal and being unprofessional, so use tact. No one wants to see a picture of their trusted professionals in immodest dress or a state of apparent inebriation!
7) Inspire your audience
It may seem like a stretch to make accounting inspiring, but this is another chance to think outside the box. Search for inspirational quotes and memes that inform and inspire your followers.
Again, general advice about personal money management and small business might be a good start, but if your firm caters to a particular industry or demographic, get into their world and get creative.
Has your firm ever played a role in a client’s success story? If you have a client with a particularly inspiring rags-to-riches story or a wildly successful business venture, see if he or she would be interested in being featured on your social media page(s). This doesn’t have to be a full article if you don’t have the time or writing skills to pull it off. A photo and brief write-up will get the point across.
Of course, everyone loves internet humor, and there are times when it can be an effective marketing tool. Some social media platforms are better suited for comedy than others, and you must stay away from anything that might be even remotely offensive.
If you choose to share something that pokes fun at your own profession or industry, try to include a comment that gently corrects the stereotype and reminds your clients what sets your firm apart from the brunt of the joke.
Just because the accounting industry is a little behind the curve when it comes to social media doesn’t mean your firm can’t have an AMAZING online presence.
Take some time to learn about the major platforms, take advantage of social media management tools, get a good look at your audience, then get creative and go for it.
Are you looking for new clients for your accounting firm? Writing blog content that your target audience wants to read (aka Content Marketing) delivers results.
But you don’t have time to write and promote a blog for your business. Let Sweet Fish Media do it for you.
Click here to start your risk-free trial today.