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Using social media to build local relationships for your accounting firm

Oct 13, 2016

build local relationships

In the past five or so years, there’s been a shift in how people use their digital and social networks to connect with the world around them.  This affects accountants in a big way, because of how much social is being used to make business decisions.

It’s less about using social media to post your dinner on Instagram, or share holiday snaps on Facebook. People are using the national and global reach of social media channels to find jobs, connect with specific professional and industry networks or to build friendships and partnerships with people they’d never have met through traditional channels.

For accountants, social is an amazing way to find and connect with business owners and entrepreneurs who want to work with you. (They just don’t know you exist, yet.)

Although accountants know digital has changed the world, you can still fall prey to the myth that digital communication has ruined good old-fashioned relationships, personal interaction and more.  

But if you think digital – or social media – has killed the desire for your buyers to connect with you locally, you’d be wrong.

Social media allows the right people to find you

When social media marketing is done well, it highlights the incredible value you get from a friendly, local supplier – and it highlights as well the impersonal nature of sometimes website or the formulaic customer service you get from a giant corporation.

This applies just as much in the finance and professional services sectors as it does in the world of retail.

Your firm may not have the size, scale and money of a Big Four firm, but the connectivity of social media helps you reach the people who really want to find you. As a tool for finding, listening to and communicating with your target audience, social really is unrivalled.

But to reap the benefits of social, it means making a shift in how you use all these varied social media channels to talk about your firm and interact with clients and prospects.

Use social to make those local connections

If you’ve not explored social media marketing for your firm yet, now is most definitely the time. While social media itself is free, the time and money investment related to using social media can begin to add up – but even the smallest efforts to learn and apply the principles will have a marked impact on the profile of your firm in your chosen market.

By setting up accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram, just to name a few, you create a new face for your firm and give yourself multiple channels where you can interact with the right people and the right businesses.

3 steps for creating a great social strategy

 

  1. Discovery phase:
  • Look at each social channel. Look at each social channel. Are your target prospects on there? Are they actively posting, or just visible? This is really important. With the right channel research, you’ll know where you need to target and focus your efforts.
  • Use social media tools like hashtags, search functions and key-word tags. These allow you to find businesses that are from your town, that trade in your niche sector or are looking for your specialist service.
  • Top tip: Twitter’s Advanced Search is a great tool (if that’s a channel that applies to you) as it lets you really hone in on your prospects. You can search by business type, location and then keywords which your prospects may be searching for (e.g. Xero set-up or accountants in Wales). Twitter then does its magic and brings up specific results based on your search criteria.
  • Think outside the box.  Keep in mind you may need to think differently – not copy what other accountants are doing. Originality is what will get you noticed on social channels, so put your ideas hat on! (Or ask for help!)

 

  1. Engage:
  • Follow and listen to the channels you’ve discovered your prospects are using. What are they talking about on there? This helps you set your tone of voice online and learn the best ways relate to these people.
  • Take the results you’ve found from the social search tools, and do something meaningful with the information. Whether that means you follow, ‘favourite’ or reply directly to the content of the posts, the key thing is to listen well so your reply is relevant. Don’t go into sales mode! Just be helpful at this stage. This will build up trust and start to form a relationship with your connections.

 

  1. Build your sales pipeline:
  • Build a rapport and see where the conversation goes. If they mention a current issue they’re facing, here’s your chance to explain how your firm may be able to help (while opening up the potential for a sale).
  • Share helpful, relevant lead magnets. Not just a generic ebook that you put your logo on, but genuinely useful and educational content that comes from your own head, your own firm, your own expert advice. This is what will draw the right kind of prospects to you.
  • Be direct. If you get a positive response to your social post from your audience, keep the conversation going. The goal is to absorb any new leads into your sales process. The signing up of new clients will naturally flow from that.

 

Rather than being ‘non-relational’, digital and social is actually ALL about building relationships – and, as we all know, building a great connection with new clients is what keeps your practice evolving, growing and bringing in those revenues.

Begin addressing social media in a serious way, and you will start reaching a whole new audience of potential new business clients.