Using social media and Linkedin for business and not just fun

Jan 24, 2023 | Linkedin, Marketing and promotion, Social Media, Sole practitioners, Strategy

Have you ever thought you ‘should’ be doing more on social media and on Linkedin, but are not sure how or what to do?

Or maybe you are very active online but are not getting the business benefits you really want?

Are you envious or skeptical about the the results others appear to be getting from their activity on social media and Linkedin?

Do you understand the difference between ‘active passivity’ and ‘positive activity’ on Linkedin? It can make all the difference to you getting the results you want.

Love it or loathe it, social media isn’t going away. On the one hand it is still wildly misunderstood and yet does have enormous potential – if used intelligently – by which I mean, used in a way most likely to deliver the results you want.

On the other hand it is increasingly over hyped as a free way to secure new business. This results in many people wasting a lot of time and effort – and in some cases, money, chasing results that could also have been achieved with much less effort and money.

Below you will find 20 key tips to help you decide what to do for your business as regards social media and Linkedin.

NB: I write as someone who has been active on social media for longer than most in our profession. I was first recognised as the most socially networked accountant online in 2011. And since then I have always been one of the most highly ranked online influencers in the profession.

Over the years I have seen many social media advocates and enthusiasts come and go. Typically they start out with a bunch of misunderstandings and misconceptions and eventually realise the truth of what I have been sharing with accountants, bookkeepers and tax advisers for years.

My views continue to evolve but in the main I find most people in our profession, with a few years experience of using social media, come around to my way of thinking.

Those who take a strong counter-view typically fall into one of 4 categories:

  1. They make their living (or try to make their living) from advising on social media, marketing and/or providing outsourced social media support.
  2. They have started paying someone to ‘do social media’ for them and don’t want to admit this may have been a mistake.
  3. They think that if something works on social media for marketing consultants, coaches or other business types that it will also work for our profession.
  4. They know someone in our profession who appears to have made a success of social media and hope to be able to replicate this.

With that said, here are 20 key tips to help you decide what to do for your business as regards social media and Linkedin:

  1. Look at each social media platform separately. Consider where are you most likely to be able to influence your target market. There’s unlikely to be any real benefit in you being spread thinly across every platform.
  2. Recognise that Linkedin is more of an online business networking platform and that you are likely to get better business results on LInkedin if you treat it differently to the social media platforms. This is especially relevant as regards the type of posts you create.
  3. Consider how best to communicate with the type of people you want as clients who will pay you the fees you deserve for doing the work they need and that you enjoy doing. Are your overtly promotional messages likely to be seen or to work for you? (Clue: Rarely!)
  4. Clarify your real objective on each of these platforms. Some people claim to want to build their brand or to boost their reach. Underlying this though is their real desire to generate more of the right type of leads and to then convert these to clients.
  5. Normal business networking etiquette is just as important when using Linkedin or any social media platform to short-cut the process. In brief that means being authentically you, evidencing your genuine interest in the other person, looking to help them before you ask them for help. And, of course, not being salesy too soon. No one likes that!
  6. Follow helpful and influential people on each platform to learn stuff that helps you in your practice or career. Remember that what works for them may be specific to their style and approach and client type. You may want a different type of client, clients who pay higher fees or clients that behave differently.
  7. Accept that few people will see your posts until you build up a decent number of connections, followers or friends on each platform you choose to be active on. There is a catch-22 here in that some people will not want to connect or follow you until and unless they can see that you post or share stuff that attracts, interests or intrigues them. And remember that your posts will rarely be seen by all of your contacts, connections, friends or followers.
  8. Your online behaviour needs to be social rather than anti-social. That means being authentically YOU and interacting as yourself (not as your business name) and educating, stimulating and/or entertaining your target audience. This will inevitably be a more successful approach than if you just post marketing messages in the vain hope that the right people will see them and contact you. Imagine how you would be treated if you visited a village pub, jumped up on a chair and started shouting about your business without letting anyone get to know you first? Why assume it’s different if you follow a similar approach online?
  9. Write your headlines, posts and profiles so that if your ideal target client reads them they will be intrigued and want to connect with you or to follow you. But equally keep in mind that only a small proportion of your connections and followers will see your posts. Just as you only look at a small selection of the posts that make it into your home feed on each platform.
  10. Use the search facility on each platform to find people, groups or discussions that are of interest. Do the people you want to reach typically describe themselves as Business Owners, MDs, CEOs or something else? Ask to connect or just follow them and start to interact via their content. Or by direct (non-salesy) messages.
  11. Join in conversations and threads about topics you find interesting and which may help you connect or engage with the people you are targeting.
  12. Ensure that the messages on your website are consistent with your social media headlines and profiles. And that your website is sufficiently engaging. Otherwise you are wasting time trying to get people to go to your website from your social media feeds.
  13. On Linkedin ensure that every element of your profile is written so as to positively influence the type of people you most want to influence (whether to potentially become clients or to remember, refer and recommend you). Also create a simple business page there to positively influence your target audience.  Consider whether you also need a detailed website as it may just be a costly distraction. (You can ignore the SEO arguments as your Linkedin profile will invariably appear higher in the search results than your personal website).
  14. Even though you may have clients around the UK, remember that most people seek local support. This means you will probably do better if you focus your social media or Linkedin activity to reach prospective clients in your area. For example, joining local groups on Facebook; building Linkedin connections with people in your area; as well as connecting with and following local prospects on each of the platforms where you are active.  The same advice applies if you are active in a specific sector or community.
  15. Keep your objectives and target audience in mind. It’s probably best to adopt a local, community or sector specific focus. Creating a viral post or video that is seen by tens of thousands of random people around the UK or around the world is unlikely to do much for your turnover. So focus your efforts on value rather than volume to give you the best chance of achieving your objectives.
  16. Follow up effectively after you contact someone new online. This rarely means sending an overtly promotional message. Often it makes sense to have a conversation (online or face to face?). The sooner you talk with someone the sooner you can establish whether they really are the sort of person you would welcome as a client.
  17. In addition to prospective clients you probably also want to use your preferred platforms to reach people who, once they get to know, like and trust you, could introduce you to prospective clients. This takes time and means you need your online activity to help you to be better remembered, referred and recommended.
  18. Be patient and consistent – just as you need to be with any form of networking. Despite the hype, no social media platform is a guaranteed short-term route for professionals to achieve success, positive referrals and new clients.
  19. If you are growing your practice you can also use social media and/or Linkedin to reach and positively influence prospective staff.
  20. Regardless of which platforms you use regularly, ensure you follow your choice of relevant influencers, professional bodies and anyone who shares content on those platforms that you find of interest from a business perspective.

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