There are two types of accountants who use social media and Linkedin. Those who understand what works and those who have bought into the hype and hope that what they do will work.
Chances are you are in that second category just like most of the accountants I know. Indeed, the vast majority of accountants who use social media and Linkedin are in that second category.
Often they are doing what they see others doing. Or, more often they are doing what a social media or marketing expert says will work. Typically though this advice works well for marketing people and doesn’t translate well to the accountancy sector.
Thankfully, in recent years many of those experts have started to tell you a key general truth about social media.
That truth is that overt sales and marketing messages do not typically have much positive impact. Indeed unless you are a big brand already you will rarely be able to build your brand effectively using social media or Linkedin. And certainly NOT if you are simply posting promotional messages and hoping that your target audience will see, notice and remember your brand.
Paying to post adverts on social media is a different topic and not the subject of this blog post.
Before I explain how you CAN use social media effectively for promotional purposes, I should clarify a related point. I have long maintained that it’s rarely worthwhile spending time on social media in the hope of finding new clients.
I’m never surprised that only a minority of the accountants I know of talk about having found new clients through social media. For some years I was of the view that many of these clients were relatively new start-up businesses who were attracted to similarly new accountancy firms. If that is what you want then by all means copy what you see those accountants doing on social media.
Times are changing but it remains true that before you try to copy what someone else does you need to decide whether you would be happy with the same results that they secure. And it’s not enough to replicate someone’s style and approach – you might also need to replicate their profile and website messages too. I’m not suggesting you copy these, but do bear in mind that when social media works as a promotional tool it is due to a combination of factors.
There is no guarantee that what other accountants are doing is working of course. Sadly a lot of the advocacy around different social media platforms is just hype. You will often find people who claim that what they are doing is worthwhile simply to justify to themselves and their family and friends the time and effort they spend there.
My advice to accountants who are keen to secure valuable promotional and marketing benefit from social media is to adopt a local, community or sector specific focus. Rather than tweeting, posting and engaging with anyone and everyone, be more selective.
There is rarely much point in local accountants building up a follower base spread around the UK or the world, unless such people are genuinely part of your target market for business or influence. This is not the case for most local accountancy firms. So why seek to boost your follower numbers without giving any consideration to where they are or who they are?
In most cases ‘quality’ should be far more important to you than ‘quantity’. And what will determine who are ‘quality’ followers and connections? It is likely to be because they are involved, connected or interested in the same locality, community or groups as you.
If you want to use social media effectively for promotional purposes you will still need to follow conventional wisdom and avoid too many overtly promotional posts. But, that said, you will invariably be more successful if you adopt a local, community or sector specific focus by:
- joining relevant Facebook (and also Linkedin) groups
- tweeting, posting and commenting on local, community or sector specific topics
- using popular hashtags that are already being used by others in your area/community/sector
- including your social media account names on local marketing and promotional materials
- following, connecting, helping, supporting and engaging with key individuals, influencers, suppliers, customers and personalities.
The same points apply to your use of Linkedin as to your use of social media platforms. I make the distinction though because Linkedin is better thought of here as an online business networking platform.
Often you will get better and faster results from focusing on Linkedin than you will from spending time on any social media platforms. I say that as it is invariably the case with the accountants I speak with. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and even Tik-Tok may work better for you but only in one situation.
That situation is simple. You can do well using a social media platform to promote your practice IF you know that the people you most want to influence are active on that platform and will see your posts. This is quite different to the advice you might see elsewhere that starts by quoting how many people use each platform daily. These numbers are rarely relevant unless you are targeting people of all ages all around the world, or even all around the UK. And even if you think your service could be widely applicable to such people they are not all your target. Accountants invariably have more success with promotional activities that are clearly focused on a more specific target. And, as I said earlier, it is often easier to reach that target through Linkedin than via social media channels.
To summarise I offer you a six step process in answer to the question “How can I use social media to promote my accountancy business?”
- Refocus your question – Why do you want to promote your business? For example, to secure low-fee paying new tax return clients? Higher value tax return clients? Small hobby-style start-up businesses? Established businesses who are not happy with their current accountant? New clients who want specific services and would be willing to pay for them? There are so many options and the more specific you can be the easier you will find it to use social media or Linkedin to successfully promote your accountancy business. (Indeed the same point applies to all forms of marketing activity you might choose)
- Beyond this, adopt a local, community or sector specific focus
- Check out what other accountants who have a similar focus to you are doing and on which social media platform – and on Linkedin too. And click through to their websites too as these may be crucial in ensuring that leads they generate online actually get in touch.
- Clarify what return and impact you would need to get (and over what period) to justify investing time and effort on promoting your accountancy practice on a specific social media platform. Is this going to be the best way to spend time and money promoting your practice?
- Take the time to connect with, engage with and contribute to posts, groups and people who fit your target audience or who could help influence them.
- Remember to update your profile on the relevant platform and also your website so that everything is congruent with the messages you are sharing AND likely to further engage your target audience.
If you want more focused strategic input as regards your lead generation activities you will find this list useful. >>>> There’s even a link right at the foot of that page if you want my personal attention 1-2-1.
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