In my conversations with accountants about their marketing, Facebook almost always comes up.
We talk about social media, including the big players Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.
Sometimes, the response I get about using Facebook is a resounding “ehhhh”.
“We don’t particularly like Facebook.”
“We tried Facebook ads for a few months and we didn’t really get anything.”
“We can’t seem to get many followers on Facebook.”
I’m the first to recognise that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to social media (or indeed marketing in general).
You can’t say unequivocally that “Facebook works” or “Twitter doesn’t work”, or whatever your current belief happens to be.
And I don’t even care, really, if you use Facebook itself or not.
What I do care about is the reasoning behind your decision not to use it.
6 completely wrong reasons to avoid Facebook
Here are six completely wrong reasons to avoid Facebook (or any particular social platform):
- I don’t like it.
- It’s not my preferred social media platform.
- People only use it for “personal” things like cups of coffee and food photos and cat videos and politically charged statements.
- I don’t have many followers
- It’s too much hard work
- It’s kind of scary how much Facebook knows about me and others
These reasons are no good because they’re all focused on YOU.
How you feel, what you prefer to use and not use, your impressions of what it’s like and isn’t like.
What matters – the only thing that matters – is how your clients feel.
Not only how they feel, but how they act.
And not even your existing clients: but rather, your dream client group.
When you consider a new marketing avenue, the only person to think of is the ideal, perfect, “wish we had more of these” kind of client.
And it’s very likely that person uses Facebook.
I had a fascinating conversation with an accountant who said they didn’t particularly like Facebook. When I asked why, they honestly said “fear, and it’s too much hard work”.
But then they added, “Facebook ads do work though. My husband is always seeing something on Facebook that he’s never heard of before, and he clicks on the ad and buys it.”
We all do it. I’ve bought coffee, whisky, books. I’ve clicked on ads. Downloaded PDFs. Registered for webinars. Connected with groups. We all do it, because Facebook knows more about us and our family and friends than we do.
The Facebook algorithm changes are no big deal
Interestingly, the recent Facebook algorithm changes had the whole business world in uproar because they were making it harder for businesses to get their posts visible, and easier for family and friends’ posts to be seen.
The truth is, it’s only harder for businesses who post boring, salesy things that no one really cares about. If you’re personal and real and human – and most of all, “engaging” – then you have nothing to worry about.
“I do show up as an interesting, authentic and helpful person because I am more or less that way in real life,” says Mark Schaefer. “I think that is also the formula to win as a brand on Facebook. But how many can really do that? Almost none. The corporate culture to “sell,” advertise, and perform is all-powerful. And that’s why the organic reach is so low for companies on Facebook, and it always will be, no matter what change Facebook throws at us. Maybe this is the moment to throw out the freaking rule book. Just show up and be real. Be more of yourself at your best. You’ll be OK.”
Mark wasn’t the only one encouraging businesses not to panic. A summary article of experts like Mark summarised things this way:
- The Facebook algorithm change is not that big a change.
- Facebook is doing you a favour.
- There are still opportunities to win organically on Facebook, but they will be harder to attain.
- Now more than ever, you must embrace the paid advertising side of Facebook.
- Diversify your marketing.
[Source: “Why top social media experts say Facebook’s news feed change is no big deal”, 29 January 2018]
All these points are absolutely true for accountants. It’s a good platform, with great opportunity, and it’s not the only one on which you focus your efforts.
The same applies to every other marketing platform.
I’ve had the exact same conversation with accountants about Instagram. When I ask, “Are you using Instagram?”, I get a flurry of responses about how the accountant doesn’t understand it, doesn’t know whether it’s useful, doesn’t think it’s their style, whatever.
It doesn’t matter if you like Facebook or not.
When it comes to your decision of which platform to use or avoid…
It doesn’t matter if it’s your style.
It doesn’t matter if you like it, or don’t like it, at this point.
What matters is where your best clients spend their time.
What matters is the number of opportunities you’re giving them to see that you’re there, engage with you in some small way, and slowly build trust.
No, Facebook is not going to magically give you all those leads you’ve been dreaming of, with very little effort.
Neither will Instagram, or YouTube, or email.
But it could be an incredibly powerful part of your entire marketing picture: one small point amongst many while your target audience is living their life. Buying coffee. Reading articles. Posting holiday or food photos.
One of the biggest objections I hear about Facebook is, “When someone wants a new accountant, they’re not going to go on Facebook to find one.”
First, that’s categorically untrue. I’ve got countless examples of personal friends who needed an accountant and they took to Facebook to ask for recommendations.
Second, who is ever really “looking for a new accountant” as a one-off process that is solved in a few days or even a month? So many people don’t even know they need a new accountant. They think their current accountant is great. They don’t really like their current accountant, but they don’t realise things could be better. They don’t understand what an awesome accountant is actually like. They wouldn’t summarise their fears and concerns and challenges into a Google search.
All they’re interested in is the things of life.
Could be coffee. Could be marketing. Could be hiring employees. Could be health issues.
And if, in the midst of living life and engaging with people on those issues, they stumble across an incredible accountant who specialises in their industry or type of business and seems funny and interesting and helpful…well, they might be open to making a change.
5 ways to start using Facebook
So if your mind is a little more opened to the possibility of using Facebook, here are 5 ways to start:
- Join our free Marketing Masterclass. Once you register, you’ll get a link to our private Facebook group which is an opportunity to connect with other accountants in community. It’s a great way to get used to using Facebook with people who think like you do. Here’s the registration link.
- Follow businesses that you like. Connect with businesses that you buy from – whether it’s business cards or flowers or plumbers – and see what they’re doing. Ideally you’ll connect with a business who posts fairly regularly on Facebook, so you can get ideas of what they share and how they encourage interaction.
- Start posting things on your Facebook page. When I say “things”, I mean the sort of things you find interesting that day. A book you’re reading. An article that made you think. An idea someone shared that you’re not sure about. It may take a while for people to start commenting and engaging with you, but you have to start somewhere.
- Get a little Facebook training. We have a series of videos on how to set up and use Facebook which is created exclusively for accountants. Sign up for those.
- Keep track of your Facebook stats. You need to track them in combination with other stats, like website page visits and Twitter followers and emails sent and blog posts shared and number of leads and other things, but you have to start somewhere. Even increasing a few followers, or getting a great response on a particular post, will help you to see the traction you are building. It will be really slow at first, but if you don’t start tracking at zero, you’ll never see any improvement.