There is little doubt that social media has changed the world.
In 2019, studies show that about 3.48 billion people now use social media – that’s up 9% from 2018, and approaches nearly half of the world’s population.
Naturally, hiding amongst those people could be lots of potential customers for your accounting practice. The question is, can social media be a viable way for accountants to generate new business?
In this article, we’re going to look at two specific social media platforms: Facebook and LinkedIn, as those seem to be the most popular social networks which we seem to talk about with accountants.
Please note that this content is for information purposes only. It does not constitute marketing advice. Speak to a specialist in accountant marketing, prior to making any big marketing decisions.
Good for targeting parents of millennials.
There are lots of different ways an accountant could use Facebook in their social media marketing. One option would be to simply set up a Facebook page, publish regular posts and hope people start following.
Unfortunately, changes to Facebook’s algorithm have made it much more difficult for accountants and other businesses to appear “organically” in people’s news feeds. To get your page in front of decent numbers of people now, you really to consider investing in Facebook Ad campaigns over a series of at least a few months.
This operates on a “pay per click” model, which means you pay Facebook each time someone clicks on your advert. You can set a daily budget, usually starting from about £5. The cost of each click depends on a number of factors, but can be as little as 10p.
You can create lots of different types of ads including single image ads, “carousel” ads (with lots of images lined up side-by-side), and video ads. You can also target them towards specific groups of people defined by your required criteria such as age, job title and area of residence.
It’s important not just to consider your potential ad spend, very carefully. You also need to plan ahead with what you want to achieve with your Facebook presence. For instance, do you want to build your loyal followers on your page and encourage business enquiries directly from there? Or, would you rather simply drive people to your website, from your Facebook page and ads?
There are pros and cons to both options, and it might even be appropriate to combine a mixture of the two approaches into your social media marketing strategy. Just bear in mind that Facebook doen’t make it easy for people to click away from their site to other platforms – nor do people typically want to leave!
On the other hand, if you focus on building your Facebook page just be aware that you are building up a “rented marketing asset.” Facebook could change its terms at any time, so you should be careful to try and encourage people to also join your email list and other, more “permanent” marketing assets.
Good for targeting professionals, business owners and sole traders.
Lots of accountants believe that if they were ever to use social media in their marketing, LinkedIn would be their “go to” option. It certainly has lots of advantages. In particular, its large database of business people and professional workers can make it an attractive advertising platform for accountants.
Similar to Facebook, accountants have a few different options for marketing on this platform. As above, one option would be to simply set up a LinkedIn company page, publish content on there and hope that people gradually start to follow you and then inquire.
This is very difficult for accountants to pull off, even if you are a larger organisation. Again, you might need to consider LinkedIn Ads if you want to grow your followers more quickly. Be aware, however, that LinkedIn Ads are not as targeted as Facebook Ads towards your defined audience, and they can be more expensive. The click-through rates also tend to be quite low, which means you would need a very large audience in order to get a decent rate of new followers. For small accountant practices targeting local clients, however, this might not be particularly realistic.
In our experience, two other options tend to be more effective. One route is to use your own personal LinkedIn profile to make connections with other professionals, who you wish to target. Over time, you can build a professional network of hundreds – even thousands – of people, who can then see your posts and engage with you (possibly even sending you enquiries via direct message).
The second route (which does not necessarily exclude the first) involves setting up, or joining, a LinkedIn group where your audience can congregate and contribute. Here, you can build up a feeling of exclusivity and identity amongst your target market by inviting people to join, and by limiting membership to only certain people who meet your desired criteria. Again, over time you can build up a reputation in the group as a thought leader and industry authority, possibly bringing in enquiries.
This just scratches the surface of how social media might feature in an accountant’s marketing strategy, and of course, there are lots of other platforms which haven’t mentioned including YouTube, Instagram and Twitter which could be up for consideration.
As we’ve tried to show above, two important things to be aware of with any social media platform are algorithm and etiquette.
The former refers to how the social media platform technically works – whether it allows you to build a following via organic means, for instance, or whether you can (or need) to use its advertising service to achieve your goals.
The latter refers to how users on the platform expect everyone to behave on the social network, and whether this works with your marketing strategy. On LinkedIn, for instance, people are generally much more comfortable for you to approach them directly and ask to make a connection, compared to, say, Facebook – where people typically do not like to connect with other personal profiles of people they do not know.