How accountants can use social media

Social media should be part of any marketing mix: it’s an inexpensive, effective and easy-to-use marketing tool. Don’t worry if you don’t know a retweet from a hashtag: this article will take you through the benefits of social media, as well as how to choose which social media to use and what to post. We’ll also look at the benefits of paying for advertising on social media, and how to measure whether your efforts are generating results.
Please see the social media post templates included for your use at the end of this guide. These can be used on your social media accounts to build relationships with your potential clients.

Benefits of social media for business

Social media has become a key marketing channel for so many financial services businesses because clients across industries use it as a tool to market themselves and make important business decisions. Additionally, social media enables you to

Communicate to a large audience

Unlike traditional face-to-face media, social media allows you to communicate with a large number of people in a short timespan, with relative ease. It can be highly cost effective compared with traditional marketing channels, which makes it accessible to any firm of any size, regardless of their budget.

Amplify your message

People talk about products and services on social media. They talk about the businesses they like working with and they ask others for recommendations. If you’re not on social media, chances are you won’t know about these conversations. With a social media presence, you can listen to what customers say about your business, your competitors and your industry – and join the conversation if necessary.

Engage in conversations

With social media, you can ask questions, respond to comments and build a better relationship with your customers. You can even take the opportunity to address criticisms or issues. As a result, you can more easily build customer loyalty while also raising awareness about your business culture, staff and successes.

Determining which social media platforms to use

Each social media network has an audience of primary users. Your starting point here is your clients. Which social media platform is your target market on when they make purchasing decisions? Those are the platforms you need to be on.
Ask your regular customers which social media sites they use, either in casual conversation or using more formal methods like a questionnaire or survey.
Also consider what platform works best for your business and your style. Here’s how businesses are using some of the most common forms of social media:

  • Facebook to target consumers and for sharing personal stories
  • LinkedIn to target businesses and to educate or offer business insights
  • Twitter for microblogging and instant news
  • YouTube, Instagram and Flickr for visual images or videos

Tips for newbies

If you’re a social media newbie, don’t use too many platforms at once. You’re best to start with one and be consistent. Once you’ve got the hang of it, and if it’s getting you results, consider expanding to others.

Be willing to change. If one platform or strategy doesn’t work for you, don’t give up on social media. You might be on the wrong platform for your clients or it may take time to grow your audience.

Make sure you post regularly and engage with your audience. If people comment on your posts, respond with something thoughtful and personal. Take a moment to reach out to loyal followers via private messages.

Social networking is a process, not a destination, and will take time and effort before it starts to pay off.

Posting on social media

Your posts need to be engaging and relevant. Here are the top tips when writing for social media:

  • Don’t oversell: People on social media generally have less time for obvious marketing pushes. The most effective business pages focus on building rapport and adding value to their offering. Anything that feels like obvious marketing stands out, and not in a good way.
  • Showcase your services: Provide photos of happy clients, profile a client who benefited from your services, mention a current offer, or give a behind-the-scenes look into your company.
  • Value add: Share valuable information that’s relevant to your industry. If clients come to you with the same questions over and over, answer those questions in social media posts.
  • Engage: Create groups of your own where your customers, clients or your audience can interact with each other and ask you questions directly.
  • Be clear: Get your message across with simple but snappy posts. Be concise and keep to the topic, while showing your personality.
  • Listen and learn: Make meaningful connections to build trust with your audience. Ask questions and find out what makes them tick. Get their input on your services. They’re more likely to become regulars if they know you’ll genuinely listen.
  • Proofread: Read over any posts to make sure they make sense, or aren’t likely to be misinterpreted by readers. If in doubt, ask a staff member or friend to read it first. Double-check your spelling and punctuation before posting.
  • Avoid conflict: Don’t comment on controversial current events or politics.

Build your community on social media

Because social media is a two-way street, you don’t want to be a business that simply posts once a day and doesn’t otherwise engage in the conversation. People will quickly stop reading your posts if you do so.

Write posts that encourage people to respond, then comment on their responses. Start conversations and then participate in them further. Comment on posts made by others. Welcome new followers, thank people for sharing your content, and answer questions. If you don’t have time yourself, delegate to someone in your firm.

Paid advertising on social media

Paid advertising using social media is a great way to attract your target audience. You have some options:

  • Boosting some of your most popular posts, so that they reach a greater audience than people who follow your business profile. On Facebook, these appear in people’s newsfeeds as sponsored posts. You can pay more to “boost” your post, getting it in front of more people or a specific group, or running the post for longer.
  • Write ads that appear either in people’s newsfeeds or in the side bars of social media sites. Some social media sites offer assistance with advertising. For example, Facebook guides you through the process by helping you create a customer profile including details such as their location, age, gender and interests so you know who you’ll be targeting with your advertising. This means you can pin-point your advertising to find potential customers within your target audience – based on everything from having a similar age to sharing interests and hobbies.

Determining if it’s working

Most social media networks have a way to measure your results. Facebook has Insights and LinkedIn has Analytics, for example. Track those over time to see how well your social media is doing.

You can measure the effectiveness of your social media posts through feedback about the number of people who saw the post (the reach) and the number of clicks, likes, re-tweets and other engagements your posts get.

Watch for growth, engagement and sharing to see how effective your strategies are. Don’t worry if you have some posts that have a wide reach and others that don’t. Review them to see what the popular posts have in common (day or time of posting, specific topics, relevant information) and use that as the basis for future posts.

Integrating with your website

With your business website, you can use social media to drive traffic to more effectively promote your firm and your services. Some of the ways of doing this are:

  • Have a ‘share’ button on your website that links to your social media pages
  • Share your website and contact information on your social media profile
  • Include links in your social media posts to your website, where relevant
  • Add a ‘like’ button to written content on your website, such as blogs or updates. Just remember that you won’t be directing individuals to your Facebook page by installing a Facebook “like” button on your website. Instead, you are allowing individuals to share the information that is found on that particular page only. They need to click “like” on your actual page to follow your business

Related resources

Access a range of social media templates to promote products and services, events, webinars and more.

Final Thoughts

Like any effective marketing strategy, social media should be carefully planned and executed. Pitfalls to watch out for include unfinished profiles, inconsistent posting, too much automated content, and over-promotion.
If something isn’t working, ask yourself why. Your content may not be right for your audience, or you may be on the wrong platform. Mistakes are inevitable in any learning process, but research can help you avoid the ones made by others before you.
Social media offers businesses the opportunity to connect with their audience in a way they haven’t been able to before. It takes time and persistence, but it often pays off by helping you build a relationship with your target clients and keeping you front-of-mind when they need accounting or bookkeeping services.