Social Media for the professional accountant
At a time when many people are considering removing themselves from social media to protect their privacy, can using the same platforms in a purely professional way enhance an individual’s […]
At a time when many people are considering removing themselves from social media to protect their privacy, can using the same platforms in a purely professional way enhance an individual’s employability, credibility, and even the success of their business?
Social media has revolutionised our personal and business lives. While marketers and more creative B2C businesses may find social media a more natural fit to promote themselves, professionals in all industries can benefit from wise use of it – and that includes accountancy. For firms to be successful these days, it’s almost paramount to have a good website, an active and relevant blog, engaging tweets, a strong LinkedIn presence – and that’s just the beginning! But how can professionals make the connection between Instagram-ing photos of cats or healthy dinners into profitability?
Making social media work
Kylie Fieldhouse, an advocate of social media and founder of KFH Accounting in Rayleigh, Essex, has built up 50% of her business through Facebook. She says “It surprises people when they learn how successful Facebook has been for me because it’s the one platform that accounting professionals are quick to dismiss.” And she goes on to explain just how she gets it to work as a promotional tool for her business.
As a member of several online networking groups, Fieldhouse says her new business connections often start as a query from someone she doesn’t know asking for recommendations of accountants, or asking for help with a specific query related to accounts, to which Fieldhouse might respond. “I don’t reply to tout for business but because I’m in a position to help. However, invariably that will lead to enquiries from others who’ve seen my response and thought I might be a good person to approach.”
Similarly, Claire Georghiades built her Teddington-based practice, Accounts Resource, largely through Twitter and is now exploring Instagram. “The way we are expected to communicate and do business has changed. Back in the day, we did a lot more schmoozing with clients, which was key to our growth, but the past 15 or so years have seen a massive cultural shift in how we operate.” The internet is certainly a powerful tool to reach and influence customers we might not normally have access to, and knowing how to access them can generate significant revenue.
Georghiades has 30,000 followers on Twitter and posts around six times per day. Her content is a mix of personal achievement highlights – such as when she ran a half marathon – news about her business, and financial or industry updates she sees in the news.
A balancing act
But maintaining such an active social media presence can impact on how much time you have to do your day job, which is where marketing functions within businesses, or using external agencies, can help.
Midlands-based firm Moore Thompson uses an agency to assist with its social media activity: while the senior managers have a good grasp of technology and are active on LinkedIn and Twitter, they felt they could achieve more by bringing in a specialist firm.
Moore Thompson uses a range of tools, including Twitter Analytics and Google Analytics to monitor its social media accounts to see which posts and platforms generate the most interest. They then adapt their posts to suit their audience, and engagement and leads from their activity has proved successful so far.
Keys to social media success
While not everyone can be a natural at social media, there are some basics you can follow to increase and improve your presence and reputation online. For starters, think about what you want to be known for – if you want to be seen as an authoritative expert, make your posts reflect that. If you’d rather be more personal and approachable (accountancy is a people-business, after all), adapt your style accordingly.
Monitor how long you spend on your social media and don’t let it encroach on your work time. If you haven’t the time or the motivation to do it properly, let the professionals do it for you – just make sure they understand some of the technicalities of the subject area!
Try different platforms and see which one works for you and the clients you’re trying to reach. For example, Facebook may not be the obvious choice for professionals, yet it can be an excellent way of tapping into new markets and SMEs. Also, keep an eye on less conventional platforms for the next big thing.
Above all – remember it is SOCIAL media: don’t forget to retweet, share and interact with others on social media. One of the biggest mistakes that firms can make is to think they’ve done enough just by posting. To reach potential clients you need to build relationships.