If you’re sceptical about the significance of having a social media presence for your accounting practice, you’re not alone. Doing business and being social are somewhat contradictory, aren’t they? However, research shows that clients will choose a business they know and trust. Social media marketing allows you to identify, target and attract the very audience you seek, and forge a relationship with them. Gary Epstein, Managing Director at EasyBiz Technologies, urges accounting professionals to realise the critical value in creating a social media presence for their business.
Studies show that many small businesses do not use social media to market their enterprise – some don’t see the benefit of it and others struggle to get started. Many business-owners argue that word-of-mouth is the best way to market a business – and this is true, to a point.
“The power of a social media presence, however, can mean the difference between running a successful business and expanding a business exponentially, thus enabling accounting professionals to expand their role to become financial advisors, to offer seminars or workshops, to become the go-to authority on all things financial, and obviously to extend their client base significantly, says Gary Epstein.”
There are many benefits to having an online presence to market your business, but here are just 10:
1. You can talk about your business. Inspire your followers with the story of your successes and failures and how you built your business. This creates awareness and adds more meaning to what you offer. Epstein advises: “Challenge yourself to master the art of telling stories that relate to your service. These stories will help your customer relate to you. Also, share your news. Let your followers know about any new services, products, updates and new appointments.”
2. Using social media is one of the cheapest ways to market your practice. You don’t have to use paid-for advertising – you can grow your following just by being consistent and posting valuable and relatable content. Make use of SEO: use trending keywords to enhance your rankings. This increases traffic to your profile, which leads people to your website. “Use hashtags sparingly,” says Epstein. “Ensure that you’re putting them on the words that will be most effective. Choose words which people will most likely search for, for example #2021budgetspeech or #2021taxreturns.” However, if you do have a budget for advertising, paid-for ads increase your marketing and digital growth quicker, and allow you to target your audience more precisely. Epstein adds: “Build a landing page that you can direct social media traffic to. This will help you increase conversions by way of a call to action. You can also include buttons on your blog and website to display how many shares your content has achieved. These buttons are convenient and allow for quick sharing.”
3. Clients must think of you first. You can build your image so that it becomes the first business on people’s minds when they think of accounting services. Staying connected with your followers and creating a bond is key to converting followers into potential buyers and then loyal customers. Epstein advises: “Consider building your own Facebook or LinkedIn group about the accounting industry. You can see conversations about the industry as a whole that can help market your services. Contribute articles of authority on accounting, for example, or the benefits of online accounting software versus desktop programs.”
4. Learn about the strategies of your competitors. See what they post and which posts do well. Read the questions and their answers and determine if your business could provide better answers and support. Analyse their customer service so you can do it better.
5. Getting the data on your customers’ activities is crucial. The tools on social media platforms allow you to see how many visitors were interested in the content you shared, how many clicked on a call to action, and how many actually want your services. With this info, you can target your message to a specific audience. Epstein says: “Make it a part of your daily routine to do some ‘social listening’ and see what people are saying in your industry.”
6. Attract business clients through their personal interests. This will help you target their likes, dislikes and interests, so as to attract such customers. They may be interested in consulting an accountant, but you can attract their attention through their personal interests or financial topics relevant to them. Epstein advises: “Be sure to keep your loyal audience engaged and happy. Offer promos and discounts, add-on services or a free workshop, and give away inexpensive gifts relating to your business to make a long-lasting impression.”
7. Don’t confuse ads with content. With digital marketing, you can reach thousands of people by simply targeting ads, thereby reducing your advertising costs. The time that users spend on social media increases the possibility of their seeing your ad or your profile, visiting your profile, and eventually becoming buyers. “Don’t write content that sounds like an advert. If you want to advertise on social media, you should, but make sure it’s paid advertising and that it looks professional and gets a good reach,” says Epstein.
8. Relationships are everything. A business that connects the most with its customers is a business that grows significantly, because customers get to know and trust you. Create a friendly relationship with your followers, answer queries, and offer help. Customers want to be heard and to be offered assistance. This is one of the most effective ways of getting to know your audience better, to hone your marketing strategy, and to turn potential buyers into customers.
9. To create a large customer base, capitalise first on the clients who already know your business. Then create visually appealing and engaging content that will attract potential new clients. Keep reminding them of your existence. Creating awareness will help clients relate to your business or the content you create. So, you create further engagement as well as new opportunities to connect with potential clients, because they will recognise your business.
10. Promote your services. It’s easy when you can put up professional images and details of your services for people to engage with. There are many platforms and groups within those platforms where you can advertise your business. Epstein advises: “Share stories of clients who use your services. If they give you great feedback, share it! It’ll spread the message that your business is good enough for someone to give you positive feedback.”
There is definitely merit in including social media in marketing strategies, which also need to be targeted to specific audiences to be effective.