Social media has become nearly ubiquitous in our daily lives. An overwhelming majority of us have a personal social media account on at least one social network, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. It’s becoming more common that accountants are using social media to try and grow their practice, but there are many small missteps and time-wasting activities that can be avoided with a little education.
Maybe you’ve been experimenting with using your personal social media profile as to a tool to build your brand as an expert accountant or tax professional, or to generate leads, or to maintain client relationships. Doing this doesn’t necessarily require you to purchase expensive tools or devote several hours each day in order to be successful – accounting professionals have enough on their plate already. However, you can grow your practice and start laying the groundwork for your marketing strategy with reasonable effort by investing a little time – and sometimes a little money – in social media.
These days, it can feel like you are bombarded with advice on how to best use your social accounts, but not all social media strategies align for all businesses. Accountants are in a specialized industry with unique social needs, and not every tip you read will produce the results you’re seeking.
Instead of giving you a list of all the things you should do on social media, here are some common mistakes tax professionals make on social media and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Don’t overthink it.
“I think the best advice is just to not overthink it and to get started,” said Jackie Meyer, CPA, CTC, MSA, president and founder of Meyer Tax Consulting in Southlake, Texas. If you haven’t created social accounts for your firm, start there. Follow relevant news outlets and trade publications; follow thought-leaders in the industry; follow the IRS social accounts. Then as you get more advanced, you can work on the items below.
2. Don’t assume everyone is interested in your practice on social media.
Spend time thinking about who your audiences are. What are their personas? What will they find interesting and relevant? Stacy Kildal, bookkeeper and founder of StacyKAcademy, advises: “Pick one channel your audience can be found, and with which to start such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Once you have a handle on that platform, then move to another.”
Once you’ve identified the channel that make the most sense for your followers, focus on developing a small, important community. Having 500 relevant followers is much more valuable than 5,000 miscellaneous ones, or several thousand diluted over several different channels. Tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can help you manage and gain insights into your audience.
3. Don’t bombard your followers with promotional messages.
Your followers will want to know about major product updates and sales promotions but this shouldn’t be the primary driver of your social content. Try experimenting with education content such as tips and tricks, or tax law updates to see what’s most appealing to your followers.
Kildal recommends, “Post the content that you find interesting or helpful: Personal and/or business articles, a funny story, cat pics (everyone loves cat pics), and the occasional product update post.”
A good best practice when you’re starting out is to try using an 80/20 strategy: 80 percent education content and 20 percent promotional. Also remember that your followers don’t want to be overwhelmed by the content you are promoting. Develop a steady post cadence per channel, such as three to five times a week, once a day, etc.
4. Don’t confuse social media metrics with what really matters.
Social media is a great way to engage with your audience and to generate leads, but don’t get too caught up on likes, engagements and number of followers. As a tax professional, your job is to create value for your clients. Think of your social channels as an offshoot of your business by focusing on creating valuable and educational content for your followers. It’s not all about key performance indicators; what matters is your business and if you’re getting quality over quantity.
5. Don’t forget about the power of promoting your content.
Don’t ignore the power of using small pools of money to boost the reach and engagement of your content to targeted audiences, especially on Facebook. If you see content is performing well – whether that means click-throughs to a blog post, engagement with your content or even driving business conversions – you can put money behind it to expand reach and longevity.
6. Don’t forget to reassess and adapt your strategy each month.
The nature of social media is that audiences and platforms are ever-changing. As a business account, you must also keep moving forward with the latest trends and features. Try incorporating content from advertising and tech publications like AdAge, Mashable and Business Insider to your morning news roundup.
If you try something and it’s not working for your social strategy; if you are seeing very low engagement and few click-throughs; don’t keep wasting time on it. Change it up and try something new.
What social strategies have worked for you? What hasn’t worked? What tips would you give to a accounting or tax professional trying to use social media for his or her business?
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Accounting Today.