Can social media work for my accounting firm?
Mike Crook, managing director of PracticeWeb, a digital marketing agency that works exclusively with accounting firms, takes a look at the data behind their clients’ social media marketing performance to help you decide if social media marketing can work for your firm.
The world's addiction to social media can’t be ignored: more than 3.8 billion people used social media in 2020 – that’s 49% of the global population.
According to a social media report from the Global Web Index (GWI) social media has seen a surge in popularity as a result of the pandemic.
The report found that from Gen-Z through to baby boomers (ages 16 to 64) people cite staying up-to-date with news and current events as the most common reason for using social media. Millennials – those aged between 25 and 40 – spend on average 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media each day.
Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, with new platforms like Clubhouse and TikTok, people around the world are finding new ways to connect and express themselves.
It stands to reason, then, that if you want to be seen as a modern-thinking digital accounting firm you have to be where digitally-engaged people hangout.
Don’t worry – I’m not saying you need to start doing dance routines on TikTok unless you really want to. But you can start to use social media as part of business development, to connect with your ideal clients.
In this article, I’ll answer three key questions that accountants regularly ask us about social media marketing.
To back up my answers, I’ll be using the data from our global analytics that tracks all our clients’ marketing data. This will help you to see what you can expect from your social media marketing activity and where to direct your efforts.
1. What social media channels should I use?
According to the GWI social media report, the most popular social channels are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook has the largest volume of members with 85% of all the world's internet users visiting the platform.
Our clients’ performance statistics paint a slightly different picture when looking back at 2020, however.
We see that Facebook accounts for 54% of all social media traffic back to our clients’ sites. The second-largest volume of traffic comes from Linkedin, at 26%, followed by Twitter at 18%. Instagram and YouTube barely make an impact, both delivering less than 1% of traffic.
Over the course of the past year, we’ve seen a 52% decline in traffic coming from Twitter to our clients' sites but a 26% increase in traffic from LinkedIn. An interesting trend and shift in behaviour. Perhaps 2020, with the loss of face-to-face networking, prompted people to get serious about connecting online.
Which channels you should focus on depends on where your audience is and what resources you have to dedicate to managing your social media activity. If you’re starting out, don’t feel you need to be present on all the social media channels. It’s a good idea to start small, test, learn and build from there.
As you can see from our statistics, Facebook and LinkedIn would be good places to take that first step.
2. Will I see a return on investment with social media?
Like most activities in marketing, you get out what you put in, and it takes time. You need to be dedicated, consistent and relevant.
What we see from our clients’ marketing data is that those spending time cultivating a social media presence naturally yield a better result than those who don’t, or those who take an ad hoc, unplanned approach.
A year-on-year comparison, from January 2020 to January 2021, shows a 51% increase in traffic from social media back to our clients websites.
These people are information hungry, with the top conversion event for social traffic being the downloading of an asset – either an eBook or guide. That accounts for 47% of all social media conversions. These visitors also like to sign up to receive a firm's email newsletter, too.
These two types of conversions are great for filling the top of your marketing funnel, ready to be nurtured into a sales-qualified lead.
When it comes to a direct conversion from social media traffic, emailing into a firm is the preferred method, accounting for 28% of all social media conversions.
It’s worth noting that 72% of all social media traffic comes to our clients’ sites via mobile devices. So, make sure your website works on mobile devices and that your calls to action are tailored to the platform.
3. How can I get started with social media?
Fundamentally you need to find out where your ideal clients hang out.
Start by building your client personas, otherwise known as client avatars. Where do these people spend time online? What are their hopes, fears and dreams? What challenges do they face? (What are their ‘pain points?)
This is what you’ll use to craft your social media content and messaging around. You need to demonstrate your expertise, which can only be done by answering their most pressing business questions.
Once you’ve defined your personas, you need to pin down a tone of voice. Ask yourself how you want to be perceived on social media. Are you fun and informal? Serious and professional? And so on.
You can then move into creating a content plan around your ideal client’s pain points. It’s also worth taking note of key calendar dates so you can schedule your posts appropriately.
There is a lot to gain from being visible on social media and it’s certainly a growing channel for our clients marketing activity.
You can use it to demonstrate your expertise and encourage prospects to visit your site and from there convert their way into your sales marketing funnel.
What channels you decide to use depends on where your target clients hang out. You need to build a profile of them first in order to market to them effectively.
Once you start your social media journey, you need to be patient. It will take time to build your profile. Adopting a test and learning approach will help you improve what you post.
Remember social media users are information hungry. So give them blog content, guides and eBooks that encourage them to visit your site and provide real value.
Then make sure your website is optimised to convert that traffic into your sales and marketing funnel.