Creating a social media plan to make social media work for you
Social media initially was a fad, something that was going to come and go. Clearly, 23 years on from the first recognisable social media site, Six Degrees, social media as a communication platform is here to stay.
Social media allows us to share bite sized pieces of information to our connections – be that personal and/or business, whenever we want day or night and wherever we are in the world.
There are several aspects you need to consider when looking at social media for your accountancy practice. Social media is a journey. It takes time to create a good network of engaged and connected individuals. Keeping them engaged and bought in to you is the holy grail in making social media work.
1. What is the best network for you?
There are a few different social media networks. Do you want to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest or another? Each social media network has its pros and cons. Some are better for business to business, some business to consumer, some consumer to consumer, personal to personal. Look at who your audience is or what you want it to be and then decide on the right platform to use to communicate to that audience.
2. What type of content do you want to post?
Once you have decided what social media networks you want to have a presence on then the next step is to create a plan for your content. There is no real benefit to share other people’s content unless you know it will add value to your audience. It is much better if you can create your own unique content. Your connections want to understand you, where you can add value and what your views are on issues. Putting your own spin on something or commenting on other people’s posts is fine as it shows your interest and clear relevancy in an issue. Look at a mix of relevant technical, general business and practice-specific content to give your profile and audience a wide spread of information and content to engage with you on.
3. How to attract followers
There are several ways of building up your followers, of which I will mention a few here. What there is not is a shortcut. To get followed you must be a good follower. Finding and following accounts of real people and businesses who are relevant to your practice is the first essential step to building your own following and your base. Look at verticals you have traction in, groups and communities where you can contribute, adding value and Twitter lists.
You need to have a complete profile. Make your bio tell a story. Intrigue people into following you. Make sure your feed/timeline is always showing recently shared, valuable content. Be active and engaged. Don’t just share other people’s content – comment on it and tag the originator. It can make you real and relevant.
Posting opinions, news and data can get your audience engaged, sharing and commenting on your posts. This generates traction. People who see regular relevant engaging content will want to follow you so not to miss out.
Finally, post frequently and appropriately. If you stop posting, you will be forgotten in no time, so you must maintain a regular presence without overdoing it.
4. Company profiles v personal profile
The social media network and your practice will influence the decision whether you use a personal profile or a company profile. For LinkedIn, it is more about connecting with an individual at a company. For Facebook, it really depends on the followers you have or want to attract. If you have clients who are active on Facebook, then it pays to be active there. Depending on what you want them to see, and the size of your practice, you could either use a personal profile or a business page. For Twitter, I would recommend a business profile.
5. Who is best to control your social media presence?
The short answer is you. Typically, accountancy practices that embark on social media for the first time give the responsibility to a younger member of staff as the feeling is that they ‘know’ how social media works. That may be the case, but that member of staff shouldn’t be controlling what goes out. The best way to maintain control is to make a plan outlining your aims and objectives, frequency of posts, type of content, approval process and networks to use. Everyone can buy into that and follow what has been agreed across the business.
Following the points above will put you on a solid foundation and trajectory for long term benefits from social media. More importantly, it is about building a following that benefits you and your practice.
Laurence Vogel, head of UK operations, Informanagement UK Ltd.