Where should accounting firms focus their social media efforts?
Even as more people question social media’s potential to negatively impact mental health, child development and personal relationships, the number of daily users continues to grow. How should accounting firms adjust their social media marketing efforts in the face of this ambiguity around the platforms we’ve all come to love (and hate)?
Using social media as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy isn’t a yes or no question (and if it were, the answer would be a resounding “yes!”). Rather, the issue is how to maximize firms’ ROI on their investment in this element of a broader marketing plan. Given the recent trends and the reality of finite budgets, here’s how I’m advising clients to prioritize their limited social media resources.
- LinkedIn. The only truly professional networking platform outside of industry-specific applications, LinkedIn deserves star billing as a core method for firms to connect with current and potential clients, colleagues and job candidates. This should be where accounting firms turn first when developing their social media presence. Missing or neglected profiles on LinkedIn convey the impression of a firm that is outdated and possibly digitally deficient, making it unlikely that new clients or job candidates will seriously consider establishing a relationship with the firm.
The firm and each of its partners need active, regularly updated profile pages with current contact information. Each of these pages should link to the firm’s website. Partners (and other high-level staff, if possible) should share new content to the site on a weekly basis at minimum. If that creates an unmanageable time burden, then team members can provide account credentials to the person in charge of sharing content on behalf of the firm so he or she can update the individual profiles as well.
- Twitter. While not specifically business-focused, Twitter is a powerful tool for putting the firm’s message in front of decision-makers’ eyes. The platform has fewer monthly users now than in late 2017, but don’t be fooled into thinking the site is in decline. In third quarter 2018 the number of daily users grew 9% year over year, and of Twitter’s 67 million US users, 46% reported daily visits to the site.
Clearly, there’s an audience on Twitter and it’s paying attention to what it sees: ad engagement grew at an astonishing 91% year-over-year rate as of October, 2018. Sharing content and offering insightful comments on the platform is an effective way to strengthen professional networks, establish thought leadership and boost name recognition among potential clients and new hires. Most accounting firms should create a presence on Twitter and actively participate in conversations relevant to their niche.
- Facebook. This mainstream social networking platform is reeling from a deluge of recent and well-deserved negative publicity. Overall, the site appears to be in decline, falling out of popularity with younger users as even older ones are deleting their profiles in significant numbers. Despite all that, Facebook has a huge number of daily users and isn’t likely to disappear completely any time soon.
The site still gets more visitors than all others except Google and YouTube, and 68% of Americans have a Facebook profile. Users average 8 clicks per month on ads they see on Facebook, so firms that utilize paid advertising are well advised to consider this channel. It’s the most popular social media site among all businesses, B2B and B2C. That said, accounting firms should focus on Facebook less than LinkedIn and Twitter as these platforms provide greater opportunity for interacting with business decision-makers.
- All the rest. There’s a world of social media beyond these three staples. Instagram is strong and rising; YouTube is a powerhouse; Snapchat, Vimeo, Vine, Pinterest and numerous others have strong followings. However, none are well-suited to be core components of an accounting firm’s social media strategy. They can be valuable assets, to be sure (video platforms in particular). But unless the firm has extra resources along with a creative and committed marketing staff capable of utilizing these platforms well, they don’t need to be top priorities in the marketing budget.
Social media usage is changing, but it’s stronger than ever. By taking a disciplined and strategic approach for leveraging its vast power, accounting firms can allocate marketing resources efficiently while advancing their brand recognition and enhancing their positioning in today’s dynamic marketplace.