Is social media the answer?
Or is SEO the answer?
When it comes to social media and SEO, we often feel as though now we’ve gotten to the fun part. The good stuff. The leads, the new business, the money. This is where it all comes together.
Last Friday, I was speaking on this topic at the ICAEW Growing Your Practice event. This is a topic that we feel could – if we knew the answers – give us all the lead generation.
For accountants who are used to tracking the numbers, and helping clients understand how one number affects the other, how the tax bill is calculated from the profits, and what the KPI’s are – social media and SEO are very appealing.
This is because both are so very trackable. It appears as though you simply change a few numbers here and a few words there, and you see your leads going swiftly up.
But if social media and SEO are the answer, what is the question?
Naturally the question appears to be, “How do I generate more leads?”
But there’s a deeper question behind that, which is, “What are my future clients looking for?”
The answer is that they’re looking for an expert.
When your future clients have a problem, or an issue they need solved, online is the first place they go. Either directly online, with a Google search – or even if they have a personal recommendation, they’ll still check you out on your website, or your social media engines.
If your website doesn’t clearly and specifically describe who you serve and how you help them, and if you’re not using social media regularly, there is a massive missed opportunity there for your accountancy firm.
Three ways social media helps your accountancy firm marketing
There are three key ways social media assist you in your marketing efforts:
1. It’s social.
This seems fairly obvious. Social media – hence the name. But as Hinge points out, you “treat Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as an online cocktail party”.
The primary purpose of social media is not to sell. Push services. Or even share content (although that one comes next).
It’s to connect, to be real, to give your audience an opportunity to meet you before they meet you. And often (particularly with the younger generation), your audience is exploring who you are via social media before they’re even looking at your website.
This is where many accountancy firms lose opportunities. If you have social media accounts, but don’t use them, it’s the equivalent of your prospects coming to your cocktail party and discovering that in addition to no cocktails, there are also no people. Empty chairs and a hand written sign that says “Welcome to our cocktail party.” Naturally, they’ll leave straight away.
Or, if they show up for the party and you are handing round business cards and leaflets and asking if they want to do business, they may be very confused indeed. “I just wanted a drink and a chat!”
When engaging with your audience via social media, just be friendly. Be yourself. Keep it casual. And then….
2. It’s a platform to share content.
We may think of this as the purpose of social media, but there’s a reason it comes second. Those who have met you and like you and had a bit of a chat about world events or the weather or what’s going on in their life will be far more likely to connect with content that you share.
When sharing content via social media, you need to:
- Direct the audience to your website. It’s your marketing hub, and it’s where you want to drive all traffic, if you can. Followers on Twitter are all very well, but if they don’t sign up for something or request a call or get in touch for a meeting, you’ll never know they were there. Your website needs to do all of those things.
- Be specific. Know your niche, your target audience, their issues and concerns. That will direct what content you share (not just your own, but resharing others’ content).
- Let them come when ready. Social media is not a place for heavy pressure. If you have an event or a product or a specific action, feel free to share it – but those who connect with you want to do so on their own time scale.
3. It helps your SEO position.
Now we see how social media and SEO work together. When you share a blog post via social media, and someone else shares it, the content on Twitter or another engine is searchable on Google.
This process and the content that is shared adds to your ‘page authority’. Google is passionate about returning authoritative results. It does not want its visitors to feel that they haven’t received a reliable result for their search – and all their algorithms are built to ensure these results are of the highest quality.
This is also why generic content is never a good idea. If even one other firm is using that same content, Google will penalise you by moving you lower in the search engines.
However, if you create good custom content and share it on social media, you’ll get the double win of an improved SEO position.
You can read more about these three ways in the Hinge Marketing study “Social Media Guide for Professional Services”.
So, what do the high performing firms do when it comes to social media and SEO? They…
- …do not rely on social media and SEO in exclusion. It’s part of their marketing package.
- …start with content first. SEO and social media come later.
- …do a lot of split testing.
- …hire multiple experts.
- …listen to the experts, and are open to what they suggest.
- …don’t copy from other accountants. (They copy other successful businesses.)
- …invest a lot of money in their marketing.