As bookkeepers trying to use social media to bolster your professional image and gain new clients, you may be expending a lot of time experimenting with content to see what drives traffic to your door and what drops into oblivion without so much as a comment.
My work with numerous businesses across Canada and internationally has given me insight into how professional businesses like bookkeeping can be most successful in their online marketing activities.
The lessons I learned are transferable to your business today, and by sharing them in a simple “What Works” and “What Doesn’t” format, I can pass on some of the realities that I had to learn the hard way.
If you are just trying to figure out how you can promote your bookkeeping business online, this will help.
What Doesn’t Work
- Trying to do everything at once. If you decide one day that you have to make better use of social media to promote your business, and within 24 hours you start a blog on your website, create a Facebook page, join Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and discussion forums, you are just setting yourself up for failure. Be conscious from the start that some sites will work better for you than others. You still have a business to run, and social media postings are only helpful if you provide people with fresh content that adds value to their lives. If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t be able to keep up, and your content will be so superficial it will not do the job intended.
- Expecting your social media will bring a flood of new clients to your door. Social media is a way of building your brand and portraying yourself as an authoritative voice in the bookkeeping space. It takes time and patience and skill to build your audience, and to transform it into paying clients.
- Listening to experts who know nothing about your own business and the direction you want to take it. You cannot apply generalities to all businesses. Bookkeeping, for example, is a profession where confidentiality and trust of your clients is of utmost importance, and you cannot create content that would give the impression that you talk about their business. Whatever you decide to do must be weighed and measured against the nature of your business and what you are trying to accomplish.
- Mistaking “likes” and “follows” on social channels for actual business. Likes are great boosts to your ego and spirits, but they rarely translate into numbers you can add into your business. And most importantly, remember who it is you actually want to “like” or “follow” you – quality always trumps quantity when it comes to your social audience.
- Using your social media sites as locations for thinly veiled advertisements about your company. Nobody is fooled by this. If you want to impress people about your business, offer them good ideas and information that they will find useful. Always remember the popular acronym – WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) when utilizing your social chops – think about the community you want to build and what would they find to be of most value to THEM. They don’t need another commercial; knowing how creatively you think will be impressive enough.
What does work:
- Making a plan and building a content calendar. Good social media postings are not just created on a whim. The sites you visit day after day, week after week, resonate with you because the content on those sites is relevant to you and gives you value. Each one of the sites requires a different approach to content as well. Your Tweets need to be quite different from your blogs your Facebook postings may be different from your postings to Instagram or Pinterest. Select one social media site to start with and create a calendar of good content for at least six months so you have a workable plan to follow. Otherwise, it is very easy to go off the rails after one or two postings. You will nearly always achieve better results if you become the master of one social channel instead of a novice at many.
- Determining the kind of audience that is most likely to become your clients and targeting the social media sites they are likely frequenting. Don’t operate your social media sites with shotgun style marketing where you fire a volley of shots in all different directions and hope that one hits the target. That will waste your time and energy and deplete your content. Instead, figure out where you are most likely to secure new clients and then look for sites where you are most likely to locate them. For example, if your bookkeeping business is geared to a specific geographic community, you might get more of a response by offering a free column on bookkeeping basics or trends to your local Chamber of Commerce site, or weekly online newspaper, than to aim for a broader audience. If you specialize in a particular niche then perhaps there is an association blog or newsletter that would appreciate your contributions for their audience.
- Allocating a realistic time budget to feeding your social media sites. You have a business to run and clients to be served. You simply cannot allocate hours to feeding the social media machine every week, or you will fall behind in your work. For every task you assign yourself in relation to building your social media campaign, place an allocation of time beside it. Decide if the return will be worth the investment. This is a very real conversation you need to have with yourself – and be honest.
- Studying what is already out there. Before you rush into writing mode, look at the kinds of content that already exists about bookkeeping and analyze whether you have the potential to create something different. What distinguishes what you are doing from all the others? Focus on how you can make your voice different and stand out from the crowd.
- Asking yourself if what you are producing adds to your personal brand. Think about what quality is most important in your branding. When you are handling other people’s financial matters, whether you are a bookkeeper, an accountant, or a tax professional, the single biggest quality you need to build with your readers is their trust in you. Make sure that everything you do stays true to your personal brand.
That is it. I hope you found some value here. Now get out there and be social.
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