This past week I had the good fortune to present on social media at the invitation of the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) as part of their continuing education series. I found the audience particularly intriguing as it was not that long ago that it was considered inappropriate for a professional service firm to even participate in anything other than LinkedIn. And while times have changed for many, based on the paltry show of hands raised when I asked my group who utilized social media, there is still a lot of catching up to do.
Today, when approached correctly, it is entirely appropriate, even desirable, for law firms, CPA firms, financial consultants, etc. to utilize social media. What constitutes a proper course of action? To begin with: setting goals. What is it exactly that you are trying to accomplish with this medium? Who do you want to reach? Why? To do and say what? Answering these questions is altogether easier when you consider this: Whenever you embark on any marketing or communications endeavor, the desired end goal should be to meet your company’s business objectives. Most often, that means striving to stand apart from your competition, highlight your key differentiators and attract and retain clients.
Social media, of course, entails numerous platforms. Besides the traditionally business friendly LinkedIn, along with Facebook and Twitter, many business professionals do not consider the power of video through YouTube and blogging. All of these avenues can be utilized to cross-promote company news, media coverage, white papers, awards and overall thought leadership; ideally driving traffic to your website while making you and your company more searchable and credible.
Not a fan of social media? Not a user? Remember that in the end it’s really not about you. It’s about being where your target audiences are – and where more and more people (millions, in fact) go for news and information more and more each day.
And when you do finally decide to imbibe in the power of the ‘Book of Face’ and others, do it right. Post content that is not overtly promotional and provides true informational value. Then use analytics (web, Google, bit.ly) to measure what is resonating with your audience. After all, social media is, at its core, people having conversations online. And, as with any conversation, it’s just as important to listen as anything else – and then adjust accordingly where necessary to truly give your ‘opt it’ audience what they want.