USE THIS EXPERT ADVICE, FROM WHAT TO POST TO HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS, TO ENGAGE CUSTOMERS, PEERS AND POTENTIAL CLIENTS
Hardly a day goes by without a mention of social media. Today’s tools — including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube — offer powerful capabilities for tax, accounting and audit firms by connecting them to other companies and a wealth of information. However, there’s more to the equation than simply posting thoughts, ideas and comments at various sites.
Joanne DelBalso, EA, owner of No Fuss Accounting Services, a Cicero, N.Y., firm that consults on social media, advises smaller firms to take these steps to achieve results:
1. Create a presence on major sites and visit them daily. DelBalso recommends allocating 30 minutes a day to posting and responding to others — and not outsourcing or delegating the task unless your proxy has an outstanding feel for your firm’s business. “You build valuable connections over time,” she says. What’s more, search engines like Google incorporate social media streams into page rankings. When you’re an active online participant, your website is likely to pop up higher in search results. Adding a thread of recent social media posts on your website and including icons and links to popular sites so that visitors can share blog posts and other information also helps improve your visibility.
2. Become a trusted resource. Social media isn’t an advertising medium. Those who blatantly trumpet their firms and tout themselves largely go ignored. It’s best to keep the ratio of general exchanges vs. promotional posts about 12 to 1, DelBalso advises. “You want to share useful information that helps people — whether it’s how to complete a transaction in QuickBooks or how to deal with a new IRS regulation.” Too often, she says, business leaders fear that they will give away too much information. “The reality is that you will emerge as a thought leader who clients find indispensable.”
3. Experiment. There’s no single formula for using social media effectively. Mastering the medium requires an iterative approach based on trial and error. “It’s important to try different things and word things different ways until you discover what works for you,” DelBalso explains.
4. Think quality, not quantity. It’s tempting to aim for big numbers on Twitter or Facebook. But finding the right connections — people who read and respond — is far more valuable than merely tossing out posts and hoping for results. “Two hundred people who matter are more valuable than 20,000 people that don’t matter,” she notes.
5. Use technology to stay on top of things. Keeping up with the daily stream of social media posts can become overwhelming. Management tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite can help you monitor and respond to posts. “These tools save time and help you take a more strategic approach,” DelBalso says. TweetDeck is offered for free by Twitter; HootSuite ranges from $10 to $217 per month, depending on the plan.
6. Measure results. Track key metrics using HootSuite and bitly, including:
- Conversion rates from different sites and sources, such as Facebook or YouTube.
- Amplification rates that show the response rate in likes or retweets.
- Click-through rates that show the number of clicks you receive per link.