The Five Biggest Social Media Mistakes of Accounting Firms

Social media is all the rage, and there’s lots of pressure on small business owners – from friends, coaches, and especially social media vendors – to get you to use social media in your marketing.  In most cases, we like to talk accounting practice owners and QuickBooks consultants OUT of social media marketing (and we’re one of those vendors who will setup and maintain your social media accounts for you, so we turn down an awful lot of business).     Here’s why, and here are the five biggest social media mistakes of accountants and many other small businesses.

Mistake #1:  Investing in social media before you have other more important online platforms well-developed

If you go to all the trouble and expense of developing social media accounts and end up attracting some prospects this way, then you’ll want to send them somewhere for more information such as your website.   If your website stinks, then you’ll lose them at this step, and all that money you’re spending on social media goes down the drain.

Your website is your foundational online platform.  It’s like your house’s foundation: if your foundation isn’t solid, your whole house could collapse.

Better to invest in an excellent, well-performing website – your solid online foundation —  before spending all that money on social media.  And frankly speaking, the average accounting website is truly dreadful, so there is significant room for improvement here before moving into social media effectively.

Mistake #2:  Not understanding you have to “market” your marketing

For every marketing channel you add, you not only have to market your services, you have to market the channel too.  If you have a website, you have to get visitors there.  If you have a newsletter, you have to get people to sign up.  If you have a blog, you have to get people to read it.

The same thing goes for social media.  If you have a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or Google+ account, you have to market each and every one of them to get a base of followers.  That’s a LOT of work for accountants who are already allergic to marketing as it is!

Mistake #3:  Over-pitching on social media, or pitching to everyone indiscriminately

Is this you?  You “friend” as many people as possible, then send them a message to “like” your fan page, then send them another message to join your event or call you for your accounting services.

If so, you are a “social media spammer.”  There is an unwritten rule that says you should spend about one-third of your posts on value-added tips and quotes, one-third on personal commentary, and one-third on pitches.  In that way, your content and approach will be more in balance with the nature of these platforms.

Mistake #4:  Delegating social media to an intern, your kid, or a college grad

Doing social media to chat with high school buddies is not the same skill set as attracting prospects and converting them to clients.  If you are going to do social media, then it needs to be done by someone who understands your business, your marketing plan and goals, and your desired return on investment.

If you do use entry-level labor, be sure you have the entire process documented in great detail so they can follow your directions.

Mistake #5:  Investing in social media before you have exhausted all other cheaper marketing channels

Social media is one of the most expensive marketing channels there is, not including Superbowl commercials.    Most people don’t realize it’s far more expensive than website creation or even website maintenance because of the intensive labor effort.  It’s also far more expensive than doing a blog, producing a newsletter, and asking for referrals.

It just makes good business sense to get as many new clients as you can from the cheaper channels before you move to the more expensive ones, unless you have a really big marketing budget (and I haven’t met an accountant yet who does).   And even if you’re one of the few getting a decent ROI (return on investment) from social media, you may be missing out on getting an even better one from another less sexy but tried-but-true channel.

Social media + accounting

If your social media guilt has gone away, that’s probably a good thing.  And although social media is not the best marketing source, we do feel it’s awesome for other things like listening to your client base and providing an amazing way to get closer to your clients in a relaxed, informal environment.   But until the setup and maintenance costs go down, it’s something most accounting practices and QuickBooks consultants can wait on —  without feeling guilty one bit — until they and their marketing budgets get bigger.