Google Plus: Why your accountancy firm should sign up for yet another social media engine

using google plus for accounting firmFor many accountants, the question is not, “Should I get another social media engine?”, but, “Should I bother at all?”

So, let me answer the last question before the first.  No, you don’t have to sign up for any social media accounts.  You can keep on doing what you’re doing now, and getting the online leads that you’re getting.  (How many is that, by the way?)  But if you plan on doing business beyond 2013, it’s time to wake up to the fact that all the best business owners – the ones that are up and coming, the ones you want to do business with, the ones that are connected with everyone else – that’s where they’re being found.  They are sharing links on Twitter.  Connecting with potential employees on Linked In.  Noticing major life events on Facebook.  Increasing their search engine potential using Google Plus.

Ah yes – Google Plus.  Well, it’s no surprise Google would get on the social media bandwagon.  We all know Google owns the search engine world, and wants to own other corners too.  Yahoo and Bing – despite very obvious efforts by highly-advertised films to pretend people actually use them – have fallen so far by the wayside that they got lost in the 90’s somewhere.  And even though some of Google’s efforts to be like Facebook have failed spectacularly, Google Plus is popular (and useful) for the moment, and mostly because businesses have woken up to the fact that if they’re visible on Google Plus, they’re more visible everywhere online.

Google’s algorithms (the complicated calculations that result in you finding what you really want when you type phrases into your search bar) have changed search engine optimisation (SEO) so that it includes SMO (social media optimisation) – and then they have allocated the greatest amount of points to Google Plus.  It may be unfair – but then on the other hand, since Google owns the search engine world, they can call the shots if they want to.

Of course, even if you are using Facebook here and there, or trying to nerve yourself up to do some “tweeting”, the mere thought of adding Google Plus sounds exhausting.  So, how do you solve your quandary?

A few tips for Google Plus – and your other social media accounts:

Just set up a Google Plus account.  One of the best ways to get into social media is to set up the various accounts.  That way, once you do begin making an effort on social media engines, you’ve got some of the prep work done already.  Remember that, like Facebook, you can have a personal Google Plus page as well as a company page – so set them up appropriately.  (If you need a little help, drop us a note.  We do all social media account setups as standard for every website we build, and some of our other services also.)

Claim your custom URL. Although this is a common feature for most social media tools, Google has decided that “common” people don’t get to have special Google Plus URL’s yet.  They are introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages, but while we wait to clean our URLs, there are two options – you can either use, or follow Google’s instructions to claim your custom URL. As a side note, be very careful when choosing your social media URL’s – I would strongly recommend choosing one that is the same across all engines – if you can.  (We had to use @profitablefirm in some places and @theprofitablefirm in others.)  That way, you’re easily found if needed.

Use a social media management tool like HootSuite to manage Google Plus and all your social media communications.  HootSuite allows you to post the same content to multiple social media engines at the same time – or schedule posts to go when you want them to.  It needs to be used wisely (simply posting the same thing to every social media account isn’t always the best plan), but it saves massive time and effort, and is much more efficient than signing into seven different accounts twice a day.

Put social media icons on your website’s home page!! I’d like to put this first, actually – this is one of the things that causes me to ‘x’ out of a website within seconds.  Many times I go to a new website just to find social media connections – because I have a vague interest in hearing from this company again.  I don’t want to go to all the bother of signing up for an email newsletter (and I definitely don’t want to fill in more than three fields even for that) – I just want to click two buttons and know that the next time I sign into Twitter (or whatever), I may see a few updates from this company I’m currently vaguely interested in.  Now, just putting the icons (even with proper click-throughs) on your website doesn’t solve all your problems – if you only have four followers on Twitter and have posted 0 updates, I may think twice about following you – but again, it’s a start.  The same applies for Google Plus.  I know I’m not using it to its fullest potential yet, but that doesn’t mean I give up entirely.  I use what I know, and meanwhile read articles and blog posts and attend webinars so I can learn more.  Which brings us to…

Learn more about Google Plus.  Ask questions.  Read blog posts.  Sign up for webinars.  Attend social media trainings.  Send a team member on a training and have them help you out.  (Our new Linked In setup and “done for you” options are a great example of this kind of thing.)  Because the more you know, the more you’ll be able to….

Post things.  It’s what social media is all about.  It is not, I repeat not, about telling people that they should buy from you.  I know one business who posts the same tweet every other day.  Sometimes every day.  And it’s a request for work.  “Talk to me. Work with me.  Do business with me.”  (Those aren’t the exact words, but they’re definitely the impression I get.)  I wouldn’t follow him or do business with him, because his posts annoy me.  They’re self-seeking and repetitive.  (Note, that’s just me.  He may very well get lots of business from his constant tweets, I don’t know. But it’s not my style.)  I’ve also seen many accountancy firms whose tweets are only, always, ever about tax.  Tax updates. Budget updates.  Most of them, I suspect, are generic tweets mass-produced by some tax house who has persuaded the firm that this is the way to do business.  (Hint: it’s not. Either stop it, or at the very least intersperse your generic, tax-focused tweets with ones that are slightly interesting, slightly real.)  I know I’m using a lot of Twitter examples here, but the same goes for Google Plus.  Whatever you post and wherever you post it, be real, be yourself, be varied, and continue posting.

Oh – and follow us on Google Plus, too.  Or connect.  Or whatever the term is for G+.