There’s one very good reason why accountancy firms ought to be paying attention to social media marketing: over a relatively short period of time, social media has become a significant part of most people’s daily lives.
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows:
And while the 16-24 age group still uses social media more than any others, people in the 35-44 and 45-54 age brackets saw the biggest increases in usage over the same time.
The uses of social media are just as varied as its user-base, with people logging in to their preferred networks to stay in touch with friends and family, catch up on the news, and find the things that entertain or inspire them.
It’s that blurred boundary between the commercial and personal that can make social media marketing look like a challenge if you’re new to it.
On any given day, a user could be scrolling through a mixture of promotions from household-name brands, news stories, their friends’ holiday photos, and updates from their mum.
So where do your accounting firm’s marketing activities fit in, and how can you use these platforms for the best results?
In my experience working on social media campaigns for a wide variety of clients before I joined PracticeWeb as an account manager, I’ve found that planning is often the answer. With a structured approach, social media can play a key role in achieving your business and marketing goals.
What is social media marketing?
Social media marketing is a form of online marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to achieve your marketing and branding goals.
It includes activities like posting text and image updates, videos, and other content designed to drive audience engagement.
There are two main types of social media marketing: organic and paid.
Organic social media marketing generally describes any social media activity that you haven’t paid for – posting on Twitter, for example, or posting a video on Facebook, without paying to promote it.
Improving your organic marketing usually involves putting together strategies to get your content noticed by more of your existing audience, and increase their engagement with it. Because of this, it tends to work best for companies that are already well established, with large followings – with more people already paying attention to what you post, it’s easier to get more of them liking and commenting on it.
Paid marketing, commonly known as pay-per-click (PPC), is useful if you have a specific campaign and an audience you wish to target. If you are running a small firm and you’re looking to increase your following, paid advertising can also help improve your overall brand awareness.
How do I start?
Your first step should be to establish a social media marketing strategy for your accountancy practice, setting out what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Without a strategy, it’s very easy to get carried away and post everything you have to say in one go, or just update your channels sporadically, whenever you find the time.
This doesn’t work nearly as well as a more sustained approach. Posting once on three days a week, for example, will have more of an impact than posting three times on one day.
A good way to start creating your strategy is to think about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it. Some of the questions I always have in mind are:
What am I hoping to achieve through social media marketing?
All of your content should have a purpose, and that’s no different for your social media activity. Whether it’s generating more leads or increasing brand awareness, having a clear idea of what you’re aiming for will help you plan around it.
Who is my target audience?
Think about the sector you want to reach, the age bracket your audience falls into, and other demographic information. Referring to your buyer personas can be useful here, to make sure your approach is appropriate to the people you want to communicate with.
Which platforms would my target audience use, and how would they use social media?
It’s important to figure out where your audience ‘hang out’ – whether they spend their free time scrolling through Twitter, or building up their network on LinkedIn. For example, you might find restaurateurs on Facebook, architects on Instagram and lawyers on LinkedIn.
What message do I want to send to my audience?
Perhaps you have a particular service you want to promote, or maybe you want to express your brand identity to your audience. Either way, make sure you know what it is you’re trying to say, so your social media activity is focused on a consistent message.
Once your strategy has been finalised, your next step is to create a content calendar.
Here, you can organise your posts, figure out when you are posting what, and ensure any attachments and imagery are ready beforehand.
I tend to plan content calendars a month in advance, taking into consideration any national days or holidays – for instance, ‘Women in Engineering Day’ on 23 June, or ‘Employee Appreciation Day’ on 6 March.
Focus on days that are relevant to your firm and the sectors you work with, or that have widespread recognition.
This is a great opportunity to show what your firm is doing on those days, too, whether it’s working with clients in those sectors or raising funds for a cause.
Think about other key dates and deadlines as you’re planning. You could use social media to remind your clients to get their self-assessment returns ready before the end of January, for example, or let them know about upcoming tax changes at the start of April.
Social media marketing tips
Start with research
Carrying out keyword research and competitive research will help you to come up with content ideas that will interest your target audience.
Look at what other businesses in your industry are doing to drive engagement on social media. What can you learn from them, and what can you do differently?
Focus on the content
As with any other area of online marketing, content reigns supreme on social media. Make sure you post regularly and offer information that your ideal customers will find helpful and interesting.
The content that you share on your social networks can include images, videos, infographics, how-to guides and more.
Keep your brand consistent
Using social media for marketing allows you to project your brand image across a variety of different platforms.
While each platform has its own unique environment and voice, your accountancy firm’s core identity – whether it’s friendly, fun, or sensible and trustworthy – should stay consistent.
Promote your website content
Social media marketing and content marketing should go hand-in-hand, so when you update your website with new content, make sure to share it with your social media following too.
Plus, great blog content will help you build more followers. It’s just one of the ways that content marketing and social media marketing benefit each other.
Measure your success
You can’t determine the success of your social media marketing strategies without tracking data.
Google Analytics can be used as a great social media marketing tool that will help you measure your most successful social media marketing techniques, as well as determine which strategies are better off being abandoned.
Attach tracking tags to your social media marketing campaigns so that you can properly monitor them, and be sure to use analytics tools for each social platform for even more insight.
There are three main social media marketing platforms: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Instagram is another platform that’s becoming increasingly popular for brands to use. As it’s owned by Facebook, Instagram is easy to advertise on, and if you choose PPC, you can split your campaign spend between both platforms.
‘Stories’ are also becoming an increasingly popular tool for commercial businesses. These updates can take the form of a connected set of photos, videos or text updates, and generally expire after a limited time, allowing you to broadcast quick messages and get your audience engaged.
Popular approaches include day-in-the-life style posts, or ‘takeovers’, in which you hand over control of your account to one person for the day.
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and YouTube all have some form of ‘stories’ feature.
Facebook’s casual, friendly environment requires an active social media marketing strategy. Start by creating a Facebook business page. You will want to pay careful attention to layout, as visuals are a key aspect of the Facebook experience.
Facebook is a place people go to relax and chat with friends, so keep your tone light and friendly. And remember, organic reach on Facebook can be extremely limited, so you might want to consider using paid ads.
A cost-effective Facebook ad strategy can have a big impact on your organic Facebook presence as well.
Twitter is the social media marketing tool that lets you broadcast your updates across the web. Follow users in your industry or related fields, and you should gain a steady stream of followers in return.
Mix up your official tweets about special promotions, discounts, and news with fun, brand-building tweets. Be sure to retweet when a customer has something nice to say about you, and don’t forget to answer people’s questions when possible.
Using Twitter as a social media marketing tool revolves around dialogue and communication, so be sure to interact as much as possible to nurture and build your following.
LinkedIn is a social network with a professional focus. LinkedIn Groups is a great venue for entering into a professional dialogue with people in similar industries, and provides a place to share content with like-minded individuals. It’s also great for posting jobs and general employee networking.
Encourage customers or clients to add a recommendation to your business’s LinkedIn profile. A good set of recommendations should make your business appear more credible and reliable to new customers.
It’s also helpful if your partners have personal LinkedIn profiles which are connected to the firm’s own page. As a general rule, people are more likely to connect with other individuals than with brands on LinkedIn.
How can social media marketing help my accountancy firm?
Social media marketing can help with a number of goals, such as:
- Increasing website traffic.
- Building conversions.
- Raising brand awareness.
- Creating a brand identity and positive brand association.
- Improving communication and interaction with key audiences.
The bigger and more engaged your audience is on social media networks, the easier it will be for you to achieve every other marketing goal on your list.
Talk to us for advice on marketing your accountancy practice.
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