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Articles | marketing

Why accountants can’t ignore social media

When we’re running brand strategy workshops with accountants, one question that comes up time and again is “Should I be doing social media?”

It might sound like a funny question to be asking in 2021, two decades into the social media era, but I get it. For accountants, until even quite recently, social media wasn’t a massively effective channel for generating leads.

Things are changing on that front, though. Our most recent survey of SME owner-operators found that, although recommendations are still the main way people choose an accountant (52%), social media is gaining fast, at 18%.

Benchmarking data from the accountancy firm websites we host backs that up. We’ve seen an increase in visits coming via social media, with Facebook and LinkedIn out in front. (Twitter has declined slightly.)

As an absolute bare minimum, you should claim your firm’s accounts on all the main social platforms. Make sure they have up-to-date contact information, your web address, logo, and so on. Even if you never post, at least this way you have a chance of directing some traffic your way.

Ideally, you’ll also share links to any blog posts, videos or webinars you produce, with a few well-chosen hashtags. This might help your website’s search engine rankings, will show that your accounts are somewhat active and might bring some traffic your way.

But what’s stopping accountants doing more than that?

Fear of getting it wrong

There’s also a bit of reluctance, or even anxiety, when it comes to social media. How do you use it effectively and safely? How much work is involved? Will we get spammed, trolled or hacked?

You only have to see the backlash against any big brand that commits a social media faux pas to understand this concern. It’s important to get your tone and message right.

There’s also a sense that social media doesn’t come naturally to accountants.

To generalise, accountancy is serious, technical and complex; social media, on the other hand, is light, ephemeral and concise. All cat videos and memes.

How is an accountant supposed to use Instagram? Or TikTok? (They do, quite successfully, but we’ll get to that later.) How do you balance professionalism with creating engaging social content?

As with all aspects of digital marketing the answer to making social media less scary is to (a) strategise; (b) plan; and (c) document policies.

Think about what you want to get out of social media. Don’t do it for the sake of it, do it because it achieves a specific goal or purpose. Driving traffic to your website, getting noticed by potential clients and building your brand are three typical social media marketing goals.

How will you measure progress, or success? A good place to start would be tracking engagement (likes, shares, comments) and followers, along with monitoring how many visits to your website come via social media.

When it comes to planning, tie this into your broader content calendar. Your social media posts should support any campaigns you’re running, promote your latest content, or most valuable ‘evergreen’ content such as longform guides or eBooks.

Producing social media posts in bulk, with a review and approval process using software such as Sendible, can take some of the anxiety out of the process – even if you do lose some spontaneity that way.

Finally, on policy, consider what feels natural and authentic for your firm. You don’t have to be funny or even topical. You don’t have to use memes or emojis. Just focus on providing content that your ideal clients will find interesting or useful, in your own voice.

It’s not a magic bullet

Some people will tell you social media is the only channel you need – that you can generate endless leads with minimal effort, at zero cost.

If you’re used to sniffing out to-good-to-be-true offers, you’ll immediately be suspicious of that kind of rhetoric.

The fact is that, unless you’ve got a particular personality type, or are willing to develop it, you won’t have what it takes to turn out endless videos in which you lip-sync to pop songs while explaining how Xero’s invoice functionality works.

Even if you appoint a professional to manage your social media – a good option if budget permits – for most firms, it will only ever be one part of the digital marketing mix.

Mike Crook is managing director at PracticeWeb, a specialist digital marketing agency who work exclusively with ambitious accounting firms to help them differentiate themselves, connect with the right prospects, and achieve their business and marketing goals.  website | LinkedIn | Twitter

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