5 Roles Social Media Marketing Plays in a Crisisby
As part of an accounting firm’s marketing strategy, social media can fulfill five primary roles in an outreach plan that can be implemented, monitored and maintained by remote employees.
Social media is taking on an even more vital role during this pandemic as people turn to social media platforms and digital for news, updates and person-to-person connections to help ease the challenges of isolation.
As part of an accounting firm’s marketing strategy, social media can fulfill five primary roles in an outreach plan that can be implemented, monitored and maintained by remote employees, including:
Networking: Social media’s original role, as the name implies, was to be an open communications channel enabling individuals to socialize on a variety of levels. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and especially LinkedIn enable accounting professionals to reach out and engage current and prospective clients and build both their brand and thought leadership with helpful and valuable content.
Content Promotion: Creating a social media marketing strategy to promote appropriate content that helps viewers address financial and tax-related issues via different channels will help build your reputation, visibility, and industry leadership. It’s an ideal way to build a solid, respected brand identity and gain market share, especially during an unsettled period such as this when other firms might be ignoring marketing. However, it’s important to avoid “selling.” Focus instead on educating and supporting clients and prospects who may be struggling to get answers right now to changes affecting compliance, reporting and filing during this pandemic.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Social media is a valuable way to boost online visibility through SEO. Social media content is searchable, so sharing content widely enables you to attract organic links, which have a clear impact on page authority. Boosting your social media presence should also help your pages rank in search engines, further increasing your firm’s online visibility.
Research: Accounting firms can use social media to engage in something called “social listening.” This is a method of research and market intelligence-gathering which firms can use to check out the social media streams of sales leads, new clients, and prospective employees. Monitoring an individual’s or organization’s posts, discussions, and shared content is an effective way to glean valuable information about their views, personality, reputation, authority and preferences.
Recruiting: Social media is a natural recruitment tool for new employees as well as business partners. LinkedIn and Facebook lets you post highly-targeted jobs focusing on users with certain skills and provides real-time analytics showing who has viewed your posts, when, and how often. LinkedIn is an effective tool to seek out business collaborations.
If your firm has not yet developed a full-fledged social media marketing strategy, now might be the perfect time to do it if your marketing team is idled at home. Here are the six steps to follow for creating a successful social media strategy:
1. Determine Its Purpose
Are you going to use it primarily:
- As a networking tool to engage with clients, prospects, and partners?
- To build online brand identity and visibility?
- To attract visitors to your website?
- To conduct research?
- As a recruitment tool?
2. Identify and Research Target Audiences
Is your firm’s core value based on a specific service or niche? Determine decision-makers based on what you have to offer and then where to find them online. Don’t forget to include as part of your target audience(s) potential influencers who can affect decision-makers.
3. Choose the AppropriateSocial Media Platform(s)
Different decision-makers in different industries prefer different channels. Each channel has unique characteristics that may require different strategies. In addition to the conventional major business platforms such as LinkedIn, don’t forget the private social forums preferred by many industries.
4. Establish Goals and Metrics
In many cases, the nature of the social platform will determine the kind of goals you can reasonably set and the metrics you can establish to determine if you were successful in achieving those goals. In general, there are three broad categories of useful goals:
- What you did and how well you did it
- Response to your program – who responded and how
- Results – how successful were you in accomplishing your goal?
5. Develop Implementation Tactics
No strategy will be successful unless it’s implemented properly. If you do not have the skills in-house to effectively develop, implement, and maintain a social media plan, then you need to hire outside help to either provide the tools and training your firm needs or to assume responsibility for implementing and maintaining the entire program.
Every plan, no matter how well-conceived, can usually benefit from tweaking. Perhaps there are implementation issues, or results that are not what you’d like them to be. No matter what the problem, large or small, active troubleshooting is crucial for optimizing your program and achieving the success you planned for.
Now more than ever, social media should be playing an active role in your accounting firms’ marketing plan. If there is any bright side to the current pandemic, it’s that people are staying home to stay safe and that means your target audience is spending a significant amount of time on social media and is more accessible and available than they might normally be.
By focusing on social media networking and establishing contact with clients and prospects, you can create opportunities to engage in more meaningful and substantial dialogs. Take advantage of these opportunities to share valuable information and content that can help your audience address the challenges they face working at home and attempting to conduct business remotely. By fulfilling their needs and helping them weather the crisis, you will be building your brand value and earning their loyalty.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to...