When is the time to decide social media is not delivering results for my accounting firm?

Running social media campaigns can be demoralising. You’re posting regularly, just like you’ve been told to, but you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for. Maybe it’s time to knock it all on the head and start concentrating on other channels?

Probably not.

Developing your social media channels is like building a pyramid. When at the top you can bask in the glory of laying those last few stones, but at the start it’s hard work and feels like you’re labouring.

Regardless, time is precious and you don’t want to waste it. So before making any rash decisions, take a minute, have a breather and ask yourself the following questions. 

If with your hand on your heart you can answer YES to all of these, then yes you can move on to something else, and focus your marketing elsewhere.


Do you know what social media success looks like for you?

What do you actually WANT from social? Maybe you’re looking to increase brand awareness so you’re more prominent in the marketplace, instead of generating direct leads? Or maybe you’re keen to simply build relationships through conversations and messages that can be drawn on later when your services may be useful. It’s important to define what you want before you can really start measuring if it’s been a success. 

For example, I make and sell hot sauce online in my spare time. Recently I decided to run a paid promotion campaign on Facebook. I spent £90 and split tested two different audiences, with the aim of selling some low value samples, directly to individual customers, with the hope they’d later convert into full sales.

The results were ok, but not what I’d secretly hoped they’d be…

Fast forward a month and a few of those sample orders did convert. One particular order had been for a restaurant in Birmingham and after having their customers try it they were looking at placing a wholesale order.

This restaurant has 13 locations across the UK.

Was it the result I was planning for? Not at all… but from that one sample we now had a big order, the spend had been worth it. 

Now it’s important to note selling accounting services is wildly different to selling low value products. Paid ads CAN work for accountants but only when you’ve got everything else in place so you know when your leads trickle in they’re greeted with an abundance of content, based on our content progression model.

Unlike buying sauce, commiting to engaging with an accountant is a big decision but the thinking behind ‘What success is’ remains the same. Sometimes the results are unexpected so it’s worth looking at the full tapestry rather than just numbers in isolation.


Are you actually creating good content?

Creating good content is REALLY important. You can post on all of your social channels 10 times a day but if it’s the wrong kind of content no one is going to engage with it.

Are you speaking directly to your target market or niche? Are you comfortable with your tone of voice? Is the content you’re posting solving a problem or designed to help your prospects hurry up, not hesitate.

This is why at PF, early on in any relationship we encourage our clients and prospects to do a Foundations Workshop. It involves four areas relating to your marketing – goals, brand, website, and a detailed marketing plan. It means you’re not simply churning out content, or updating a few website pages: but your entire marketing is driven towards one audience, one focus, one purpose. (And it fits with your own personal goals too!) This is a safeguard of sorts, so we know from that point onward both us and them are working towards a collective goal and holding ourselves to the same standards.

This partnership helps create great content. As the relationship develops, 3 or even 6 months later, rather than just wildly stabbing in the dark we’ve been creating a story their prospects can buy into. The narrative being one they’ve conceived themselves and then represented consistently in every blog post and every picture shared on social.


Have you involved your team?

No (wo)man is an island. If you’ve properly defined your brand and have a strong company culture, any employee can buy into it and emulate it online. You may even be surprised at how willing employees are to break up their usual tasks with something a little different.

You could even consider a performance related bonus to reward employees who properly buy into marketing the firm. Everyone can have a basic salary, but if they contribute to growing the business they’ll be duly rewarded.

We see it time and time again firms who have their employees on side perform better. Take, for example this heartwarming blog by Jay, a Kinder Pocock employee who wrote a blog that (as well as being a nice read) went on to be an amazing tool to help with their recruiting.


Are you outsourcing social media? If so, are you and the team still involved?

Another option is outsourcing. I personally run outsourced social media for several firms and when done properly it has some really positive results.

However the cases where it always works best are those in which someone within the firm is still personally involved in the process, albeit to a lesser degree than if they had sole responsibility.

The reason this works is no matter how good the agency (and we include ourselves in this!), they rarely have access to those special moments that make you seem a little more human. This could be toasting at the annual Christmas party or taking part in a charity event. 

As a result when we offer social media services we encourage our clients to relax and leave the detail to us – but still think of it as a strong base to which they add their own input. Any personality they offer on top of what we create for them will add to their authenticity and ultimately to the results.


Do you have a marketing plan of which social is just one part? 

Expecting social to drive ALL of your marketing makes things harder for yourself. And for your social. (Think of all the pressure you’re putting your Twitter page under!) 

More importantly it’s missing an opportunity. All good campaigns utilise multiple platforms and even better encourage cross pollination between these so when you post in future you’re more likely to reach the largest possible cross section of your audience.

This is where your marketing plan comes in, one of the key sessions in our aforementioned Foundations Workshop. Your plan needs to: 

  • Set out your campaigns 
  • Identify all your available marketing channels 
  • list when and how each of these channels is going to be utilised.

With a decent plan in place you then move forward, confident the pressure of your marketing doesn’t fall to just one channel and when you are posting on social, it’s with purpose.


Have you and your team had any social media training?

Social media marketing is a discipline. People literally get paid to do this and yet it’s massively common for accountancy firms to dive in without any prior training and expect results. You wouldn’t just set out and try to build a house from scratch without some prior knowledge and social media is no different.

That’s why training is first on our Marketing Map. It’s the first step to pushing the odds of your marketing being a success in your favour. If budget is an issue PF actually offers a free social marketer course, so this may actually be a good place to start!

That said, don’t allow perfectionism to hold you back. I recently wrote a blog on how to be yourself on social and stop overthinking. You can learn as you go, you’ve got nothing to lose.


Answer yes to all of those and still not happy?

I doubt it.

Regardless I’ll leave you with one more story. Courtesy of Karen Reyburn who sat me down (on slack) and shared this little tale.

There was once a lovely accountant from Northern Ireland called Claire Stewart. She had been using social passively with her firm (Cartmill Stewart) and had been getting mixed results but it was generally a little ‘meh’.

One day Claire decided to make a conscious effort with social, choosing instagram as her platform, mainly because she didn’t like Facebook and found it easy to use (as good a reason as any). Claire started sharing photos regularly of both her personal and professional life, and after a while picked up some good habits, posting regularly, tagging and generally making her feed inviting. You can see it here.

3 years on and Claire can now attribute some of the best connections she’s made in both her personal and professional life to her activity on insta. She was genuine and people responded, including Karen herself who now counts Claire as a close personal friend.

When asked Claire can now attribute approximately 1 new client per month having come from instagram and even more in busier seasons. Now of course Claire isn’t ONLY doing instagram, she also speaks and uses other channels she has at her disposal, but instagram has been a BIG part of building her network.


So I guess the moral of the tale is, yes it takes work, but there’s no limit to the power of social, other than the time (or money) you’re willing to invest. People spend their lives there, they’re looking for the answer to their problems there, now you just need to show them the way.


Don’t give up.