So much of our daily lives has changed since mid-March 2020. We’ve had to quarantine, work from home, and wear face coverings when venturing out in public. During all of this uncertainty, people have been actively looking for information and ways to connect with others. That’s why social media engagement increased by 61 percent in a matter of weeks.
People are looking for information from sources they trust, and that often includes searching out new sources of information to ensure consistency in what they read. Will this trend remain? Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball to say for sure, but the better question should be “How will my firm use social media, now and in the future?”
If you have yet to jump on the social media bandwagon, COVID-19 has almost made participation mandatory. Just like video conferencing is now commonplace, so is reliance on social media. More tech-savvy firms are taking advantage of this by sharing valuable content online, promoting webinars, and purchasing ads to promote their services – and they are targeting your clients! Your non-participation today will come at a cost. Let’s look at what you should be doing when it comes to social media.
- Evaluate your channels. People turned to social, but not everyone went to the same social channel. Should you be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, or any number of the others you’ve heard about? It depends. Start by understanding where your current and prospective clients are spending their time. You want to be where they are, but need to balance that with what you can actively engage with and manage. Engaging isn’t logging in and posting once a month; it’s about posting multiple times a week, if not several times a day. Eight different accounts won’t make sense for solopreneurs because there aren’t enough hours in the day to be an active participant on each. Instead, perhaps being on one or two channels is a more manageable goal.
- Crowdsource ideas. How did you prepare to help your clients navigate the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act? What if you knew there was a group of your fellow tax pros talking to one another via social media to figure this out together? Would you have been further along with those resources literally at your fingertips? You should turn to social media to learn, share, and make yourself better at your job.
- Communicate with clients. Clients aren’t coming into your office, and they may not for quite some time. You also aren’t going to get them to agree to a lunch or run into them at a community event. However, you can still talk with them regularly via social media. Share information with them, and when they comment, communicate back. Look at what they are sharing and comment yourself. People remember these engagements; they go a long way when it comes to maintaining a relationship. This should expand beyond business communications. You don’t limit in-person communications to business only, do you? Comment on the picture of an approaching storm they posted, the dog hiding in a basket of laundry, or a kid’s milestone. We’re human, so make sure you’re connecting as one.
- Network and meet new people. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be attending any sort of networking event this year. If that’s a source of your new business, how will you replace that interaction? Social media is an option. That doesn’t mean you connect to a random person on LinkedIn and start sending a bunch of salesy messages. Rather, join groups where your buyers are active. Talk with them there, then send a personal invite to connect. It’s okay to offer something, but it must be done from the perspective of being helpful. If you approach social as a professional looking to meet other businesspeople to see how you can help one another, you will reap the greatest rewards.
- Listen to what’s being said about you. People might be talking about you and/or your firm right now on social media. What are they saying? You might want to listen in case there are improvement areas. What if your team isn’t as responsive as they have been in the past or people think you are bombarding them with messages? Search for mentions of your firm on social channels; not just when you are tagged. There are social listening apps such as Hootsuite, Awario, Mention, Keyhole, and many others to help if you want to go that way. This insight will help you take constructive action, and it may be worth a comment from you publicly. And, when someone says you are great, be sure to thank them. If you want to step up current listening efforts, start looking at what people are saying about your competitors for differentiators and opportunity.
- Market socially. The good thing about social media marketing is that it works with virtually any budget and is incredibly targeted. There was an initial dip in ad engagement and spending when COVID-19 hit, but things are picking up. You may not be able to get an immediate lead depending on what you’re selling, but you can minimally increase your followers and keep them engaged until they are ready to buy. Keep your messaging helpful and forward focused; people have moved past survival mode and into recovery. In addition to advertising, there’s also value in partnering with influencers who can share your message with potential buyers.
- Kick up current efforts. If you’ve been on social for years, you may be looking to change what you are doing to have more engagement. Have you considered going live with video on LinkedIn or Facebook? What about hosting a Facebook watch party, and inviting specific people to watch something together and talk about it in real time? How about raising money for a charitable cause that means something to you and your followers? There is more to social media than posting a message and liking something. Expand your strategy to engage in new ways.
Over the years, many tax pros and accountants have struggled with the role of social media in their marketing efforts. Ultimately, the end goal of marketing is new business, but there are other indicators of success along the way. If people are engaging with you on social media, that’s a key winning metric. If you keep it up, be helpful, and remain authentic, you will see new business from what you do.
Today, more than ever, you need to use social media to replace what you won’t be doing in person the rest of this year and beyond. Refocus your strategy – or develop one – that lets you capitalize – and how it can help you move your business forward in this new normal where nothing seems normal.