In our experience, when it comes to using social media in marketing there are usually two types of accountants or small accounting firms, let's call them Accountant A, "The Ostrich", and Accountant B, "The Peacock".
Accountant A, "The Ostrich"
The Ostrich has their head in the sand, so to speak. They don’t have any presence on social media. They say that they can’t be bothered with social media, but this lack of presence is actually hurting their online presence and in return is hindering their marketing efforts.
Accountant B, "The Peacock"
The Peacock has accounts on every social media platform. They post regularly about topics related to their business, and they post often. Probably so often that they also post on any topic they can, including food, travel, workouts, etc. They can point to how many social media followers they grew by last month, or how many people liked their last post.
But all this peacocking takes time and effort, and they have little to show for it in terms of new customers and more business. Their social media presence is taking up too much time and effort, and in return it’s generating minimal tangible value for the business.
The Right Balance
Both of these individuals are at different ends of a spectrum. One doesn’t use social media enough, and the other uses social media too much. So what’s the right balance? Every firm and every individual is going to be different and have different needs and strategies for going to market. While there’s no single right answer, let’s also consider a third accountant.
Accountant C, "The Eagle"
Let’s call Accountant C, “The Eagle”. This accountant, like their namesake, has mastered efficiency. The eagle is able to glide on currents for long periods of time with minimal effort. They are so efficient that they need to flap their wings only rarely to stay airborne. They glide along and when they see an opportunity they are ready to swoop down.
What Each Accountant Can Do To Improve
Let’s take a look at each of these accountants and what they can do to improve their use of social media.
What Accountant A, “The Ostrich” Can Do To Improve
Accountant A needs to get their head out of the sand. They need to accept that having a professional, business presence on social media will be to their benefit. When a prospective client searches their name on Google or Bing and no information, limited information, or wrong information (the worst case) comes up, they have missed an opportunity. Someone searching for them online wants to learn more, and is looking for proof points like social media accounts and reviews to verify their identity. If a professional profile does not come up in the search results then they are not presenting their best self.
For the ostrich, actually starting is the hardest thing. They may not be sure where to start, or be unsure of what they need to. Here are some easy steps to establish a simple, but effective social media presence.
- Sign-up for and complete an individual professional profile on LinkedIn. For professionals, this is almost always the best place to start. Keep in mind that your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be your resume or CV. Keep it at a high level and include relevant work experience and education. If you’re going to include a photo, keep it to a professional looking headshot. If you do nothing else, at least get your LinkedIn profile established.
- If you are ready to look at other platforms consider Alignable and Facebook, and if you’ve done those, then Twitter and Instagram. Use the same profile and bio that you used on LinkedIn, but edited to fit within each platform. Again, just establish your profile, don’t worry about doing too much more.
- What about content? If you’re not going to be active on these social media platforms all you need to do is to create a single post that says something like, “We don’t actively monitor [social media platform you’re on]. Come and visit us at yourfirmwebsite.com to find out more about us.” That’s it, that’s all you need to do for the time being.
Accountant A’s goal is to make sure they have a professional presence that can be found when people search for them online. Goal achieved.
What Accountant B, “The Peacock” Can Do To Improve
Accountant B spends too much time on social media, and more importantly their efforts are not translating into tangible results like more customers and more business.
Accountant B needs to find out where they’re spending their time and what they can cut back without impacting their online presence. What should “The Peacock” do?
- If they have a content strategy, then they should start by reducing or stopping anything that doesn’t directly support their strategy. If they don’t have a content strategy then they should start by developing one. This will help to focus their efforts so that they can cut out unnecessary activities. They should also focus on quality not quantity.
- Set limits and stick to a schedule. At most, spend no more than 30 minutes on social media during the day. Lock your phone or devices so that you can only access your social media apps during certain times of the day, and make sure it’s not first thing in the morning, or the very last thing at night. Before opening your social media apps be clear on what you need to complete, and when you will exit. For example, check and respond to direct messages, scroll through feed and like/comment on professional topics, and then exit. Use social media management tools to schedule posts and updates in advance, at least 1-2 weeks at a time.
- Engaging with other users and content online. While this is the point to social media, it can also be an incredible time suck. Reduce the amount of time spent engaging with other users and content on social media platforms, and limit it to 15 min. a day to start.
Accountant B needs to make sure they are using their time effectively. Very few businesses are able to generate good ROI from social media marketing. Make this your objective and be clear that if you’re not able to increase ROI, that you should at least reduce costs - including the opportunity cost of time spent.
What Is Accountant C, "The Eagle", Doing Right?
Lastly, let’s look at Accountant C, “The Eagle”. Accountant C has a strong presence, but spends minimal effort. They only expend effort when they see an opportunity, and if not they keep to the minimal required to maintain their presence.
So what is Accountant C able to do that they are able to be so efficient?
- They have established a professional online presence. While not extensive or detailed, anyone that visits their profile will be able to quickly assess their skills and competencies and why they would want to consider doing business with them.
- They use the same professional headshot and bio across multiple platforms. They write it once and reuse it.
- They use tools for content curation, scheduling and automation. These tools allow them to be efficient with their time while still maintaining a presence that shows that that they are active and up to date.
- Most importantly, they understand that social media is only one piece of their marketing strategy and their total online presence. They make sure that their lead funnels connect from social media to their website and other platforms. They take the time and effort saved from social media and reinvest it in other areas of their marketing and business development to generate better results. They may have outsourced their social media and digital marketing to a professional marketing firm to manage on their behalf. Firms like Fixyr can establish their total online presence, and can produce regular and timely content that helps to build their presence and generate more traffic, with minimal involvement on their part. They make the investment to free up time to spend on more important activities.
Ideally, every small business should strive to be more like “The Eagle”. Efficiency and effectiveness are the name game, as is always keeping an eye on the big picture and not getting lost in the details of executing tactics.
How Much Time and Effort Are You Spending on Social Media?
Social media does have value for the independent accountant or bookkeeper or small to mid-sized professional services firm by acting as another proof point that verifies you are who you say you are, and why you should be trusted. But social media is not the most important thing you can do. Far from it.
The challenge is to be able to maintain an online presence that demonstrates your knowledge and experience, and why a potential client would want to work with you, but without spending hours to do so. Create a professional presence, but then minimize the effort required to maintain it.
Either get your head out of the sand or stop peacocking around, and you’ll see your efforts start to soar.
P.S. Profuse apologies for all of the bird clichés. Also disclaimer that in real life, all three species are majestic in their own right.