It can feel a little overwhelming when trying to manage all of your firm’s social media posting, and engagement for each platform. And lets face it nobody has all that extra time. Which is where social media management tools come into play, and save you a lot of time and worry giving it all a structure.
Your prospects and clients expect to see you on social, and they’ll check there as well as your website when deciding whether to sign up with you. When you’re active and they can see the quality content you’re sharing it’ll build their confidence and trust in you.
Posting daily on your firm’s social will help you achieve that: increase awareness, engagement and link into ALL your other marketing activity (when done correctly).
What is a Social Media Management tool?
It’s pretty much what it sounds like: software (some free, and some paid) that helps you manage your social media activity across all your firm’s platforms. You’ll likely have heard of one like HootSuite, Buffer or TweetDeck.
Once you have your monthly social posts planned, a social media management tool will let you create, schedule, analyse, monitor and engage with content across the platforms you choose: whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Insta. A lot of the tools also include reporting.
Keep in mind that it is fantastic to have these scheduled posts, but they don’t replace live content. They support it! The scheduled posts give you the consistency and coverage you need, but the live posts bring your content to life and often show the firm (or team members) personality. The human side is critical, and will get you the most engagement.
What you need to know before choosing a social media tool:
- What functions the tool gives you. They all vary! Some just allow social media post scheduling, and others do it all and let you manage engagement as well as posting the content. So depending on your level of activity and plans for the future be sure to weigh it up. If you’re not posting anything yet, then a scheduling tool is a great place to start. But remember that you want engagement so as I’ve mentioned above don’t stop the live activity.
Tip: Don’t just follow everyone and use the most popular social media management tool without checking it out. Your needs might be different. You might not need some of the fancy features! You’ll likely be able to do a free trial to test the water.
- What social media platforms the tool covers. Some tools focus on specific platforms – like TweetDeck, who only allow you to schedule to Twitter. That may be fine for now, but if you plan to up your social presence in the future then you’d have to have multiple tools or move to a new one.
- How many users you get included. There’s nothing worse than only one access account, and with social media you want to get the team engaged so don’t limit your firm or they won’t use it, or get as engaged with social as they could. You don’t need to give the team free reign right away, build up to it. Check how many user accounts are included with the package you choose.
Tip: If there’s only one access account, link it to an email address that everyone can access and share the login details with the team.
- How much reporting on your activity is included. You’ll get free basic reporting that includes stats on the number of clicks, number of post published and engagement included with the majority of paid tools. Look at your results across the month: see what’s working, what’s not and tweak. If you want to step it up a level and look at all your results across marketing, not just social media take a look at our Co-Pilot & Tracking package. You’ll get the best picture of what’s happening when looking at ALL your marketing efforts together.
- How easy it is to use. Granted you’ll need to learn any new tool but make sure you pick one that’s user friendly: after all you’re using it to make your life easier (as well as for consistent posting).
Tip: If you want a sneak peek take a look on YouTube and search for content around the tool your considering and topics like social media bulk upload or scheduling a social media post!
- Whether the free or paid version will suit your needs. The main difference between these is the numbers of posts, or user you can have. Once you start with social media it’s only going to ramp up so don’t pick a tool that limits you too much.
Tip: When you narrow down the tool you want to use, look for a free trial and test it out before spending hours learning it.
- If there’s a bulk post upload option. Creating and scheduling individual posts can take a fair bit of time, and if you’ve got a months worth to add you’ll want a feature where you can upload in bulk and edit from there. I do all the social media management for PF and this is one of the main things I love about social media management tools!
How to plan and schedule your content
Planning your social media posts in advance is critical to consistency across the platforms, and it pushes you to actually get it done. It doesn’t need to be complex. Here’s where to start.
1. Create a GoogleSheet that you will use to build your content every month (GSheets can be shared and update in real time as you edit, so everyone will see the same copy). Include fields like: Message (to add the text you want to go live with the link including tags where needed), URl (of the article you want to share), Approved Y/N (if you need to share it with another partner). Create two tabs: 1 for your promotional content from your firm, and the other for non promotional which will share articles from other businesses.
2. Within that GSheet also make a list of influencers within your niche, and check out their social and content each month. Also add your apps and partners like Xero in there.
3. List all your content: guides, webinars, YouTube video tips on Quickbooks, newsletter sign up links.. Then reference this each month.
4. Get your team involved: ask for article suggestions, even tag them in the live post to show the team are involved. To keep track and give the team somewhere to drop the links you could set up a Slack channel or create a GoogleSheet.
5. Then follow the 80/20 rule when drafting out the month’s posts. This means sharing 80% of content from others – content that informs, educates and touches on pains your audience may have. Then 20% of the posts can promote your firm. Use that as a guide and as long as you’re within those ranges, you won’t come across too salesy. Remember everything on social is promotional: even when sharing other people’s content you’re still acting as an adviser and building trust with prospects.
The next step is to then upload that content to your social media management tool. ‘Bulk upload’ is a common, handy feature! Each platform has different requirements but all are pretty simple and only vary by things like a title being needed to identify each field (some don’t even need that), and you just need to save your Gdoc as a CSV file. Upload and then your content is pulled into the management tool.
Or if your tool doesn’t have that the Gdoc will still help keep you on track.
Which Social Media Management tool is best for accountants?
There are a lot of tools to choose from but the two I’d recommend for accountants are below. There are only a few differences, but they can make a big difference. Here’s a quick run down!
This has a lot of functionality but it’s pretty unlikely you’ll need all the upgrade options they offer.
It has all the standard features, and what I love about it is that Buffer suggests the most suitable time for you to post for most engagement across each platform. You don’t have to go with the suggestion though, you can also create a custom schedule e.g send a post at 8am, 1pm and 6pm Mon – Fri, but none at the weekend. So when you add your post it will automatically fit into the next available slot that’s free. This queue is really handy.
Every single business in the world will get more engagement at certain times, so there’s no ‘ideal’ scheduling time. Look at your results, or if using Buffer look at the suggestions.
There is a free version which includes 10 posts for the month which is pretty low! The paid versions start at £12/pm and give you up to 100 posts across 8 social accounts. If you need more you can always upgrade. All of the Buffer options are cheaper than HootSuite.
Hootsuite has the most functionality, lots of snazzy reporting but you don’t have as much control over posting as with Buffer. It does more of the scheduling for you via its AutoSchedule by picking the best time to post and it may swap up the order (something to be careful of if the post is time sensitive). Although if you schedule the posts manually you can pick a time, but it’s much more manual.
You can get a free plan which limits you to scheduling 30 messages across three social profiles. If you need more than that there is a paid plan which starts at £25/pm. This option allows you to schedule an unlimited number of posts on up to 10 social profiles.
Which is best really comes down to your own personal preference. We use a tool called Sendible which is amazing but is typically for agencies: but for accountants i’d say Buffer! It’s super easy to use and perfect when you just want to get to grips with it quickly. Make sure it does the job for your firm based on the points above.
If you’re looking for more social media tips, take a look at the free Social Marketer.