Category: Social Media

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Promote your firm with social media

Utilising social media within your firm can be a great way to put you in closer contact with your clients and enable you to reach new prospects. With so many social media channels currently available, it can be difficult to decide which will work best for your firm, and how to make the most of them.

Why you should use social media:
In a field that is traditionally acknowledged as quiet, reserved and structured, there are a number of advantages that social media can offer accountants. Most notably, they offer a form of marketing for your firm if handled well. It can be a way to put you in direct contact with your clients, giving you a direct, personal, two-way interaction.

Social networks also allow you to grow your business by making it easier to keep up with trends and developments in your sector. By doing this, it can help to differentiate your firm from the rest and position you as a leader in your area of expertise.

Deciding what networks to use:
Different social media channels have different demographics. From the perspective of your firm, there are a number of important ones to consider.

  • LinkedIn: This is a great platform to connect with other accounting and bookkeeping professionals and business people in general. LinkedIn allows professionals to share their experiences, skills, and areas of interest and helps you to connect with each other.
  • Twitter: This can be a useful tool to diversify your messages in short and show a more personal side to your firm. By using hashtags to give your tweets more exposure, condense your business information into brief, succinct messages of 140 characters.
  • Facebook: The largest social network that is used more by consumers than businesses, it can be a great content platform to share images, videos and links back to your website.
  • Blogs: This can be a great tool for building your brand as a place to share longer, more in-depth content relating to your client’s needs, and create a resource that will build trust for your business.

Building a strategy:
Once you have decided which networks will best help to grow your firm, the best results will be achieved through active involvement. Familiarise yourself with how the various networks operate and build a strategy that works for your firm and the needs of your clients.

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Using a social media calendar

Sharing high-quality content across your firm’s social media channels is critical for firms if they are to engage their audience and attract new followers.

That is why one of the most important things firms need to do is to put some time aside to spend planning out a calendar of what they intend to share. Failing to have an adequate schedule in place for what a firm will post on social media could leave it scrambling for something to share every day.

Social calendars allow firms to plan out days, weeks and months of quality social posts ahead of time, which can save time in the future, making it a whole lot easier to find and share social content.

Sometimes it can be easy to churn out social posts quickly. However, more often than not, it can take firms more than just a couple of minutes to find something or create something that is worthy of being shared.

Planning social media posts in advance can ensure that your firm will always have quality content to share with your followers. Here is a three-step process for implementing and maintaining an efficient social media calendar:

Decide on how often to post
The frequency of a firm’s posting depends on a number of factors, such as the firm, its audience, the social media campaign and its goals and campaigns, as well as the social networks the firm plans to use. Firms need to realistically work out how often they will be able to post and who will be responsible for doing it.

Post frequency often depends on the amount and experience of the person responsible. However, always keep the audience in mind to ensure that you don’t end up bombarding them with content that is irrelevant or inappropriate.

Create or find great content to share
Once a firm has an idea of the kind of content they would like to share and how much they’ll need to satisfy the quantity of posts required, it is time to find the links to share or start creating the content to share.

Start filling in the social media calendar
Start filling in your firm calendar with links to relevant content, resources and your own posts. Think through when you will publish certain information; whether it is a product release, firm announcement or special deal, write content to promote those initiatives. Make sure you also plan out how much promotion each initiative will have; some large releases may have multiple social posts while other, smaller releases only warrant one.

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Why use social media?

Social media marketing gives firms a greater potential to reach and engage with their target audiences. It involves using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote a firm’s brand.

Social media is now commonly used as a client relationship management tool by many businesses. Firms with an active social media presence are more likely to maintain relationships with current clients and gain exposure with potential clients through multiple channels.

Where traditional marketing channels such as email or advertisements are primarily a one-way communication, social media opens up a two-way dialogue where firms can actively communicate with their audience (and vice versa).

Research has shown that people are heavily influenced through social media. Engaging with current clients through social media platforms may draw their acquaintances to a firm, which increases the potential for gaining new clients.

The ‘social signals’ gained from posts on social media outlets that link to your website can also give a firm’s SEO ranking a boost on search engines.

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How social media is affecting your SEO

Changes to Google will mean that firms who are active on social media have a better chance of increasing their SEO ranking. This is due to Google’s algorithms now including social signals as indicators in search rankings.

Another factor is that SEO strategies and those using social media have the same goal: to produce the most relevant content for their audiences. This can be seen through ‘tweeting’ on Twitter, social sharing and social media influences.

Search engines like Google now use the social media platform Twitter to discover new content. By taking into consideration how many people tweet specific content and the time frame of when content was shared, Google can stay up to date with new trends and information, and save time usually spent trawling the internet for relevant content.

Sharing content on social media is also like link building. Because it’s easy to manipulate backlinking to a website, Google now looks into social signals like Tweets and Facebook posts as a non-manipulated way of getting links. So the more relevant and accurate links companies and firms share on Facebook, the more likely their presence will be ranked higher by Google.

Google not only ranks websites higher or lower based on whether they are a credible source or not. Google also now considers a company or firm’s social media influence, and the way this is determined is based on factors such as their relevance, reach and resonance on social media platforms.

When working in sync with each other, social media and SEO can help to acquire online clients and increase website traffic.

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Three types of social media content that will give your firm the greatest value

A core component of every successful social media strategy is the act of posting valuable content regularly. Valuable content creates results that every firm wants to see; engagement, virality, likes, shares, followers and more.

The question facing many firms, however, is what kind of content is considered valuable and will produce that sort of activity. Here are three types of content that have been proven to provide the most value to those firms on social media:

  • Infographics

Infographics have been found to be the most socially shared form of content. Infographics provide small, easy to read snippets of information in a graphics format, making complex information eye-catching and shareable. They are incredibly engaging for online readers since humans process visual information faster than words.

  • Content with images

Image-rich content is incredibly shareable. Humans love images, so when firms sprinkle their social media content with images, online eyes will gravitate towards the content. Keeping a steady output of image-rich content on social media platforms is a surefire way of increasing reader engagement.

  • Newsworthy content

While news articles usually receive more social shares than any other article type, it can be hard to share news as it happens if you’re not in the news industry. However, firms can get around this by publishing articles or information relating to anything new or changing in their industry or their clients’ industries. Example topics could be anything relating to the Australian tax system, superannuation industry, or business news and strategies.

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Five ways to improve your client service through social media

Social media has opened up a world of opportunity for firms, not just in terms of marketing and sales, but also for improving their client service.

While many firms view social media simply as another channel to advertise and promote their services, many platforms offer much more than just a sales opportunity.

Social media can help connect firms with their clients in a more sincere and intimate way than ever before. But this has drawbacks; providing client service online in a public environment that other users have access to is like walking a fine line. The consequences of your firm performing poorly or making a mistake can be devastating.

But delivering excellent client service almost always leads to greater client loyalty and more sales. So here are five best practices that can help improve your firm’s client service skills using social media.

Blog about your services
Firms should always keep their blog updated with content that is relevant to clients. After you resolve a client issue or enquiry, write a blog post about it. Answering FAQ means you can share client service stories with followers without putting them in the middle of the complaint and resolution process. Your firm may also avoid further complaints by addressing issues before clients need to make contact.

Learn from repeat issues
Keep a list of the questions that arise to see if you can identify any patterns and reasons for the issue. Repeated problems should be added to your firm’s FAQ page, so clients know what to do before contacting your firm.

Respond ASAP
Today’s clients expect quick replies on social media. Only checking for issues or complaints once a week and responding days later simply does not cut it anymore. Firms need to respond within 24 hours or a few hours if at all possible. Try to take this quick response approach to improve your real-world client service as well.

Encourage and ask for feedback
Firms that don’t ask for feedback risk giving clients the wrong impression; some may interpret this as the firm not caring what clients think or want. Regularly posting comments or posts asking for feedback on social media is a great way firms can gain insights into improving their products and services.

Don’t forget to be social
Never forget that the number one rule on social media is to be social. Social media channels will only ever be helpful to firms as long as firms stay social and continue to engage with others.

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How to use hashtags

When used correctly, hashtags are a great way for firms to increase client engagement and make their social media posts more visible.

A hashtag is a keyword phrase that has no spaces with the # sign at the start of the phrase e.g. #accountingfirm #smsfadvice. They can be placed anywhere in a firm’s social media post; at the beginning, end or anywhere in between.

While they initially rose to fame through Twitter, they are now used on many social media platforms, including Facebook, to unite online social conversations, most commonly around events, disasters or emergencies, holidays or celebrations, general interest topics and other popular hashtags.

Hashtags are the most popular way to categorise content on social media. They make content discoverable and help users find relevant content posted by others. Hashtags also allow firms to connect and engage with other social media users based on a common theme or interest.

Knowing how to use hashtags properly is key to a successful social media strategy. Here are a few best practices to help firms achieve that success:

DO

  • Be specific when using hashtags

The more specific a hashtag, the more targeted an audience will be; and the more targeted your audience is, the more likely it is you’ll achieve a better level of engagement from users.

  • Cater your hashtags to the social network you’re using

Even though hashtags serve the same purpose on all social networks, the way they are used varies across the platforms. For example, hashtags used for a Facebook photo usually focus on the description of the picture, whereas hashtags on Twitter tend to concentrate on a topic of conversation.

Firms should conduct proper research on the proper way to use hashtags for particular networks before using them. It is also a good idea to spend time discovering popular and relevant hashtags on a specific subject for each network.

DON’T

  • Don’t use hashtags that are too long

Firms should always try and keep their hashtags short and sweet. Even though “#InvestingpropertyinanSMSF” may target a very specific section of your firm’s audience, no one will re-use that hashtag because it is too long. Hashtags are designed to make conversations and topics easier to find, so make sure you don’t overcomplicate things.

  • Don’t have more hashtags than words

While you may gain followers from stuffing your post full of hashtags, they’re usually the wrong kind of followers (spammers or people who want to be followed back). Having too many hashtags in a post can dilute your message, and come off as desperate to users. Focus on being specific, only using 2-3 hashtags per post.

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How to gain more social media followers

Many firms are still new to social media marketing, and, as with all new endeavours, there are always a few early pitfalls.

Gaining a decent number of followers is one such difficulty facing accounting firms. But there are activities and processes firms can follow to improve their social following.

Below are several strategies that can help firms reach more people, increase their conversion rate and improve their client experience on social media.

  • Find the best time for your firm to share

The best time to post content on social media will differ from firm to firm as it all depends on audience activity. Find the followers you want to engage with to see when they are active on social networks, or track your current audience’s activity on social platforms and schedule to post your content based on these findings.

  • Post after lunch

If you don’t have time to research when the best time is for your firm to share content, various research and studies have shown that 3 pm – 1 am is the optimal time to share on social media, as social traffic is usually at its highest in the late afternoon. While there are still benefits posting your firm’s content in the morning, firms should schedule the updates they want to convert most with i.e. their blog posts, in the 3 pm – 1 am time frame.

  • Share more often

The more your firm shares, the more likely it is that you will get more followers. This is due to several reasons; you become more practiced at sharing, you are more active and, therefore, engage with more people, and you also will soon have more valuable content for people to interact with.

  • Inform others

Become a social media informer; someone who shares outward-looking, useful information. Informers usually have more followers since their updates and content are relevant to readers.

  • Always be positive

The more negative remarks a firm makes on social media, the fewer followers it is likely to obtain. Positivity can help firms get more followers, as people are much more likely to share positive content, especially when it connects to the feelings of curiosity, amazement, interest or astonishment.

  • Add images to your Facebook posts

Research shows that adding images to your Facebook posts can produce up to twice as much engagement as Facebook posts with no pictures.

  • Be authoritative

Most people respond to authoritative figures; this can be seen on social media, as many who identify themselves as an authority have more followers than those who don’t. Identify your firm in the best possible light, just like you would on a resume.

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Building the perfect LinkedIn profile

Having an optimised LinkedIn profile is key to gaining maximum online visibility and revenue through the professional social network.

LinkedIn currently has 97 million monthly active users around the world, so to stand out, firms need to start paying some attention to creating a decent profile. Those with a complete profile are 40 times more likely to be found by others online.

So how can accountants create a ‘complete’ profile? Here are some basic tips to help make your profile as visible as possible:

Headline
Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most important aspects of your profile. Accountants should be succinct, creative and include key terms that make it easy for users to define your role in your industry.

Name
Include your first, last and middle name. LinkedIn is not the place for nicknames or funny references to job titles, like ‘accountant extraordinaire’.

URL
Customise your LinkedIn profile’s URL to make it easier for people to find you. You can find the URL in the light-grey box underneath your name.

Profile photo
First impressions matter, especially when people see your profile picture. When choosing the appropriate headshot, make sure you consider your industry, as well as potential clients and peers who will view the photo. It might be a good idea for an accountant to hire a professional photographer to take the photo.

Your background
The background section of your LinkedIn profile only has room for 2000 characters. Therefore, accountants should be careful to write a succinct description of themselves, including their present and future ambitions for their firm. Add other points of contact if you have them, like your mobile number, Twitter page or email address.

Experience
Complement your career information and experience by including in-article quotes, images or other content that you have created that is related to your professional life. The better you can intrigue viewers, the longer they will view your profile, which can better your chances of making a new business connection online.

Projects
Add in any projects you have led or executed to demonstrate your skill set and reinforce the assertions made in your description. Adding links to your current projects can support your credibility.

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What to tweet on Twitter

Not knowing what to tweet or how to reach out to audiences on Twitter is a predicament many firms face.

Twitter is a real-time social media channel that receives roughly 3.5 billion tweets every week. With so many users tweeting, retweeting and liking posts, it can be intimidating for firms to know what they should tweet and how they can drive social media engagement on the platform.

Since the last thing accountants want to do is to bore their followers with the same-old tweets or retweets, it is essential to have some ideas before you start posting. Twitter accounts that think out their Tweets tend to do better at engaging their audience.

Here are seven ideas your firm can use to compose the perfect tweet:

Ask questions
One of the best ways to get others engaging with your firm is to ask questions. It is easy to think up some questions since there is no real limit to what you want to ask. Some questions accountants might ask followers include:

  • What service they like the most
  • What could be done to make firm services better
  • Trivia questions about the firm

Industry news
Industry news can provide an excellent opportunity for firms to discuss changes in the industry with followers. Remember to steer away from subjects that might be too controversial.

Positive firm news
It is always a good idea to share positive news about your firm whenever possible. This gets the word out to clients that your firm is successful and appreciative of what you’ve achieved.

Employee recognition
Using employee recognition tweets can get your firm’s staff engaged on Twitter, allowing followers and clients to go “behind the curtains” to have a look at who makes your firm what it is today.

Favourite Twitter accounts
Sharing some of your firm’s favourite Twitter accounts is an excellent way to humanise your social media presence so you don’t come across as robotic when you Tweet. Just be sure you don’t share too much and go too far off your firm’s identity.

How-to’s and blog content
How-to and blog content continues to engage audiences on the Internet. And since the majority of a firm’s audience won’t see their blog posts right away, firms shouldn’t be shy about sharing these new blog posts on their Twitter account.

Quotes
If your firm is truly out of ideas on what to Tweet, try finding a quote that closely represents the values of your firm. People enjoy reading quotes and sharing content that people like can spark conversations for your firm Twitter. Always remember to give credit to the author of the quote whenever you use one.