Accounting professionals, like all other businesses, can no longer ignore the importance of social media as part of their marketing strategy.
In the past, potential clients leaned heavily on a personal referral for a professional service provider, such as an accountant or CPA, writes author and marketer Becky Livingston in her latest book, The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook.
She says things have however changed greatly over the past decade. “More and more people are doing research about firms before making their final decision. They want to know more about your firm’s culture; how you’re addressing current trends within their industry vertical; and how relevant your firm is within a particular service line. How are they conducting this research? Through search engines and social media, which gives everyone a chance to investigate, research, and monitor what their top three firms of choice are doing.”
She says even regulating bodies have begun to appreciate the power of social media and how it may be applied in the profession.
With over twenty-five years’ experience in marketing and technology in financial services and engineering firms, Becky Livingston is also the President and CEO of Penheel Marketing (penheel.com), a boutique marketing firm specialsing in social media and digital marketing for CPAs. In addition to being a marketing practitioner, she is also an adjunct professor, author, speaker and an active member of the Association for Accounting Marketing.
Her goal in writing The Accountant’s Social Media Handbook is to help accounting professionals to develop a strategic marketing effort that aligns with their budget—no matter what that amount may be.
Livingstone says successful social media marketing requires a deep understanding in how consumers and businesses use each of the major social networking platforms. Each platform provides different functionality and limitations. Understanding effective tactics to maximize the potential each platform holds are essential in the effective implementation of your social media marketing strategy.
One of the chapters in the book offers an overview of the current, most important social media platforms – Facebook®, Twitter®, LinkedIn®, YouTube®, Google Plus®, and Pinterest®.
It focuses on:
- Deciding which platforms are most important for your business to focus on depending on your target market;
- Understanding the basic functionality, restrictions, as well as recommended tactics for each site; and
- Best practices for maximizing the marketing potential of each platform through examining case studies.
She says a lot of thought must go into which platform you choose, why, and when you begin to mix in others to support your efforts. I recommend that you choose one social media platform to begin with; do it well; and then move on to other platforms. “If you choose to take on too much, you may begin to feel spread too thin and get frustrated when things don’t work. In some cases, you may spend too much time “doing social,” rather than focusing on growing the bottom line.”
In addition to top social media sites, there are other social sharing sites that are great for firms, including: Vimeo™, and Vine™ (video); Slideshare® (presentation and document sharing sites); Instagram and SnapChat™ (photo and image share); and Buzz Feed™, Tumblr™, Reddit™ (Q&A sites)
She also adresses social media marketing methods such as: blogging; commenting; bookmarking; and podcasting.
“Social media is not meant to be a silver bullet, writes Livingstone. “It’s meant as a tool to increase brand awareness, to offer steps to lead generation, and to support your other online and marketing effort.
To find out how your firm can benefit from social media marketing, you can buy the book from the CPA Trendlines store.