The firm opened an account on Twitter mostly to explore and find out what
all the fuss was about. In addition to “being there” when people
search for the firm, the way the firm “follows” other Tweets leads
to education, information and direct communication with industry thought leaders.
“We use some of that information internally to educate our staff with our internal newsletter, and some of the information generates ideas for articles for our weekly external enewsletter. Information overload is a great possibility, so we make use of it in small chunks.”
Hake says the firm also learned that an organization can be judged not only by whom it follows, but also by who is following the organization. “If you’re serious about business, it’s best to encourage participation by those businesses in your service area, and it’s good to have the media tuned into your tweets, as well. It’s easy to block followers who are not business-minded, and we do that without any hesitation.
“Twitter is like Brussels sprouts; it’s better to just taste it than try to understand why people either love it or hate it — and it’s probably going to be good for you.”
Establish Measureable Goals
Accounting firms exist to provide clients assurance on a variety of levels – and any firm will tell its prospects and clients that it goes into all engagements with a very defined set of measurable objectives and goals to complete the engagement with the highest quality.
Defining goals and making them measurable is another component of using social media wisely, but many firms neither take the time to do this in a logical, thought-out manner nor link them to marketing initiatives.
“Like anything else that needs to be managed, setting goals for social media efforts helps get things done,” says Barry Friedman, CPA, CEO of BizActions, a B2B executive e-mail newsletter service. “This is even more important within a tax and accounting firm because social media is a new effort and a new strategy that is not part of traditional practice development efforts.”
According to Freidman, only recently have businesses started to figure out
a strategy to effectively implement these social media sites into their marketing
programs. He recommends that firms create a committee to work on a plan and
a strategy, and then publish the strategy on their website.
“A partner of mine once commented that if you want to change behaviors, you must measure them. This is very true, especially with social media goals. I recommend establishing quarterly goals and publishing them to various groups within the firm. Annual goals are too far out to be managed effectively, and monthly goals may be too frequent. Send actual results compared to the plan to all groups. Peer pressure becomes the ultimate goal manager instead of a marketing department that usually has no direct responsibility of staff or partners.”
SEO Through Social Media
Social media is very useful for SEO (search engine optimization), because LinkedIn, Facebook group sites, firm blogs and other applications, including YouTube, can be found through search engines. There are many tasks associated with ensuring SEO is optimized on a site or application, all with the end goal of getting noticed. Friedman, for example, optimizes BizActions.com for SEO.
“Google has complex algorithms that determine the placement of your firm in a search request; for your firm to get noticed, it must be on page one of the Google results page,” he says. “That’s not so easy because there are generally millions of potential sites to be considered.”
One factor Google uses to determine a firm’s importance is the number of links other sites have to your site, says Friedman. Another important factor is whether a site is mentioned in any social media sites. If the firm is mentioned or linked when a keyword or phrase is searched and that site is part of a social media program, then the perception is that the firm must be worth checking out.
“Blogs are a form of social media; people can leave messages and communicate around a particular site,” he says. “BizActions started an aggressive program of blogging around keywords that make a difference to our firm. We have all departments blogging at least once a week, and in the last three months, we’ve created more than 60 blog entries.” On certain keywords, BizActions occupies three to four positions in the top 10.