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It revolutionised our leisure time, now social media is redefining the way we do business too. Or is it? I work in marketing and over the past 3 years social media has become a widely used communication channel; every campaign that I work on now has a ‘social media’ element. I happily admit that I live in a ‘communication’ bubble due to my role, so was left wondering if the rest of the world is switched onto using social media for business…or is it just us?
It seems that the answer from accountants is “yes, we are interested”. So interested in fact that ICAEW approached us about partnering with them to create a social media event for accountants, as they felt there was a need for accountants to get more information on this subject and how they can use it to market their practice. Obviously we agree!
So is it useful to my business?
Like all marketing tools, getting it right takes time and energy. A well-defined social media plan will help you achieve further growth. And as accountants are finding out, the benefits of an effective strategy can be many and varied, offering cost-effective ways to market your practice and services.
Ok, sounds good, but give me an example…
This is where I hand over to Accountant, Paul Donno, who has been one of those accountants keen to embrace the trend which is now providing him great results. His Suffolk-based practice, Paul Donno & Co Ltd, serves more than 300 small to medium-sized clients and has had a formal social media strategy in place since 2010.
For us it’s about branding and marketing, about putting a human face to our business and broadcasting our messages to a wider audience.
It gives clients a snapshot of who we are and how we operate and can work well as a recruiting tool. It is straightforward to negotiate, extremely cost-effective – in most instances it will only cost you the time it takes to update your account – and it’s fast too.
We use it in a variety of ways, most notably to tell people about things like training courses. The results speak for themselves. We’ve just had bookings for two days of ACT! training as a direct consequence of our Twitter advertising.
Our followers are growing every day, so much so we’ve taken on an external agency to manage our account for us. Now we’re looking to identify further channels and ways of reaching our clients and market.”
Paul’s Tips For Social Media Success
If you are going to have a social media presence, you must be prepared to maintain it. There’s no point starting something you can’t finish!
We’ve issued three iPhones to staff on the condition that they use them to tweet every day, that way we know there will always be a steady flow of information.
Decide on tone and content
Think carefully about the image you want to project – and the language you need to use to do this.
In relation to content for our corporate Twitter account, my brief is actually fairly wide. At this stage, I’m as interested in the idea of creating a solid social media presence as the content. I trust my team to produce tweets and content that is appropriate – in the same way I’d trust them to attend a networking event and behave in a way that was respectful.
For me, social media is a great way of engaging with people – and showing them the human side of your business. With that in mind, content has to be engaging – interesting enough to keep their attention and relevant enough to keep them coming back for more.
Who will manage things moving forward?
Many practices, including ours, consider taking on an external agency to manage and implement their social media strategy. They can help monitor your output, take care of day to day maintenance and also measure your success.
Joined up thinking
It’s worth thinking about how you are going to let people know you have a social media presence and where they can find you.
Linking different platforms – websites, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages– is relatively straightforward and can help direct traffic. We have recently added a live Twitter feed to our web page to ensure clients can see what we’re saying, and what our thoughts are, across a range of platforms.
Technology is constantly transforming the way we communicate and we are always looking for the next ‘big thing’. YouTube is going to be massive for us. We’re looking in to using it at the moment because it’s great for putting short, sharp messages across in an accessible way.
Follow Paul Donno @pauldonno
Follow Sage UK @sageuk
Sheryl Thomposon, Sage Accountants’ Team and Paul Donno, Paul Donno & Co Ltd