In my previous post on how to generate more referrals with social media, I discussed the recent privacy changes with social media, which networks to focus on and briefly touched on how to have a plan and strategy in place.
In today's post, I will discuss how to best build out your profiles, how to grow your networks, the advantages of automated content and how to generate referrals through engagement with your network...
Build your profiles and keep them updated.
Along with your website, your social media profiles are a digital extension of your professional brand image. Clients, referral sources and prospective clients will all visit your social profiles to evaluate you and your practice. In addition, they are important for successfully ranking well in search engines like Google via search engine optimization (SEO). Therefore, building your profiles and keeping them updated should be a high priority.
Start with your profile picture. It's often said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" and in this case, it is absolutely true. Make sure that your headshot on all social media channels are professional. Check out our recent blog post where we provided lots of great tips on getting a great headshot photo to use for your social media profiles.
Here are a few highlights from that article with the key factors that make a good accountant headshot:
- Make sure you're the only one in the picture. (Yes, we know this sounds like an obvious one, however, you'd be surprised at how many couple photos there are out there on LinkedIn.)
- Natural smile.
- Formal or business attire.
- Avoid covering head or face with a hat or sunglasses.
- Avoid over-editing and using too many effects.
After you've chosen the perfect headshot, you will need to add lots of other great information about you and your practice, including:
- Practice information: company address, hours of operation, phone number, etc.
- Complete company summary and description, awards and community involvement.
- Blog posts, videos, testimonials and reviews.
Be sure to update your social media profiles regularly, adding any certifications or awards and keep your business name, location, etc. up to date and accurate.
Grow your social media networks.
Once you have your social profiles built out with a great photo and content, this is probably the most important part of having a successful social media strategy: GROW YOUR NETWORKS.
You can have great content, but if no one sees it, then it is mostly wasted effort. Many tax pros and accountants find this to be their kryptonite. The ones that believe in the power of social media often focus on creating a lot of content, but believing that "if you build it, they will come." Yes, content is important to have good content (see our suggestions for doing this below), but not without also making a concerted effort to also build a large audience of contacts who will see all of your content.
We've come up with the following tips to make growing your networks a little less painful:
- Upload your contacts and client lists across the top 4 social media platforms your business is on so that you may connect with them there. Each network is different in the steps you can take to do this, but here are some helpful links on loading in your contact lists:
- Gmail: This import can be used to connect on LinkedIn and Twitter
- LinkedIn: Importing and inviting your email contacts
- Twitter: You'll first need to import your contacts into Gmail before connect Gmail to Twitter.
- Facebook: We don't recommend connecting your personal Facebook page to your professional contacts, unless you use your personal Facebook only for business. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to import your contact list to "connect" with people via your Facebook business page in the same way you can with the other social networks.
- Join local and professional groups online. LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups are great places to connect with others and share your expertise.
- Search and connect. Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter always have a "People You May Know" or "Who to Follow" list with suggestions of individuals to connect with based on background or industry. This tip again is the most overlooked aspect. Don't be afraid to connect with and follow referrals sources, clients, influencers in your industries or local area, etc.
- Send email invitations to your lists to follow and connect with your company on social media.
Provide fresh, quality content.
In part 1 of this blog post, it was mentioned that one of the reasons accountants and tax pros shy away from social media is that they don't have the time nor do they want to spend the time to learn how to optimize it.
But what if a company can help you with this aspect?
There are many benefits of automating social media content and engagement. Automation allows you to maintain a consistent posting schedule. A key strategy in growing your audience is consistency and automated content will help you with this. A second benefit of automated content is that it frees up your time. With many automation tools at your disposable, you're able to schedule relevant content for weeks at a time. Lastly, using an automation tool will give users insight on important analytics such as best time to post and what content is most clicked on. This information will help practices curate their content in a more effective and efficient way.
Engage with your social contacts to get referrals.
Now that you've built your profile and have grown your networks, it is important to engage with them. Engaging is possibly the most important step in maintaining an online relationship with your potential referral sources. Consider this the give and get portion of how to generate more referrals with social media. You get what you put in. Here are some things you can do to engage and generate more referrals:
- Like, re-tweet, comment and share content posted by referral sources.
- Send a welcome message or email (we have examples of these, ask us and we can send them to you).
- Like and comment on life events and job changes such as birthdays, anniversaries, career advancement and promotions, new businesses, awards, etc.
- Endorse or recommend on LinkedIn (see screenshot example below).
- Invite your network contacts to like or comment on your posts, follow you on other social media networks, join a Facebook or LinkedIn group or set meeting or call to meet up.
- Offer referrals or (without being to forward or salesy) ask if there is anyone who could benefit from your service. For example, send a simple and short note like the following: "Hi, I see that we both serve small business clients? Let me know if you have any clients who may need tax or accounting assistance and likewise, I will keep you in mind for any of my clients who could use your services..."
- Thank your referrals! If someone in your social media network does refer a new client to you, be sure to thank them for the referral. We actually have example emails for this and they are built-in with our marketing automation platform.
Of all the networks, LinkedIn provides the best way to engage on a professional level with referral sources and potential clients. LinkedIn provides a way to endorse and recommend your colleagues and connections based on their knowledge and expertise as well as birthday and work anniversary reminders. These are both great ways to stay in front your audience and offer relevant conversation starters. See blow for screenshot examples of these.
Finally, with your social media engagement strategy, below are some easy "Do's & Don'ts" to keep in mind:
- Set attainable goals so you aren't overwhelmed.
- Get the basics in place first.
- Get assistance from a company that has automation technology and has great tax and accounting expertise and content.
- Spend 15-30 minutes a day sharing and engaging with referral sources, prospective clients and clients.
- Mix business and personal accounts/posts. While it's great to be transparent, keep your content and social networks business focused.
- Hire an expensive "social media expert" who doesn't know the tax and accounting industry well or someone who charges a lot but has no content or automation technology
- Underestimate or overestimate results - it takes time to generate referrals, but it can be easy and work very well, especially when you partner with a company that can help.
- Spend too much time or too little time investing in your social media networks. Just 15 minutes per day after the initial set up should be enough.
You don't need to be a social media expert to generate more referrals from social media. What you need to do is leverage technology and a someone else who can help you reach your goals.
At CountingWorks, we have spent years helping tax and accounting pros to get more from social media. To discuss your practice growth goals, to audit your current social media networks or to see how we can help, please call us today at 1.949.438.2186 or book an appointment here. We look forward to hearing from you!