I use social media to promote the business, Blue Dot Consulting, and I am active on Twitter, the company blog, YouTube and Vimeo, and we are currently in the process of planning the company’s strategy for using Facebook. I also blog here at Small Business Britain and have set up my own UK QuickBooks group on LinkedIn, and through this I offer support to QuickBooks users looking for help, tips and advice.
The main benefits I get from social media are:
- Client pitches which have come via Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Observing how other accountants and businesses are using the platforms and getting ideas about both good and bad examples of use.
- Getting great tips and contacts.
I’m very keen on inbound marketing, so the blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn etc. are all useful ways of driving traffic and getting people interested in what we’re saying, and through this we’re hopefully building up our own brand and attracting clients.
Creating a dialogue
It’s about trying to build up a presence and see where we can take it. I think it’s a very long fuse you have to light – you can’t just go on to LinkedIn and join 15 groups and get five clients the next day.
You’ve got to bear in mind that most people aren’t going onto these things to buy anything, so actually what you really want to be doing is creating a conversation or dialogue with people. The people you speak to may not even be a potential client themselves, but they might know some other people who are looking for the help we can give.
Competition or collaboration?
I also use the channels to network with other accountants. I accept that this can be a “double-edged sword” but there’s a lot to learn about the problems other people are having in terms of growing their practice. You can also get a sense of what people’s reactions are to legislation etc. For example, I’ll be interested in talking to other accountants about issues such as RTI.
At the same time, it remains a competitive market. However, I just play it by ear on a case-by-case basis and on the whole, I prefer to be helpful.
My top social media tips for accountants
- You do have to put the time in, especially in a small practice like ours where there are only seven members of the team, but a lot of it is quite fun. You learn an awful lot of new things, particularly on Twitter, and you start to engage with so many different people.
- Always bear in mind that it’s so easy to annoy people if you’re not careful and people will just stop following you and not get in contact with you. Watch what other people do for examples of good (and bad!) practice.
- Take training to get a feel for the basics of each platform. I’m about to take a course on using Facebook!
- If you want to hire decent staff, you’ve really got to get your head around technology, otherwise you’ll find that you won’t be a good place for young people to come and work. I think that applies to all businesses not just accountants.
- It still does seem to me that accountants are a bit slow off the mark when it comes to social media but I think you’ve just got to go with it – it’s a tidal wave that’s coming at you.