Staying connected: Using social media to bolster business
July 08, 2015

Social media is more than idle chit-chat and the sharing of mutual interests. Businesses have hopped online in droves to develop their brands and expand consumer bases. More accountants are following suit, and rightly so: Given the nature of the financial industry, people increasingly want to feel as if they're interacting with specific human beings. But before diving headlong into the digital ether, it's crucial to structure any approach to social media to fully maximize results.

By the numbers
The first step is to understand the social media audience. According to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of adults have at least one social media account. That's not just young adults either, as 65 percent of those age 50 to 64 utilize social media. Even 49 percent of retirees are signed up to at least one platform. Financial standing doesn't appear to be a factor, with 80 percent of adults across all earning brackets using social media.

Still, there are clear preferences for specific websites: 71 percent of adults use Facebook, and another 28 percent are on Pinterest. However, not every accountant uses social media as effectively as possible. As CPA Trendlines noted, a majority of accountant's social media activity centers on personal communication and business relations. It's with that in mind that accountants need to reassess their approach to heavy hitters like Facebook and Pinterest.

Making Facebook work for business
Facebook should be approached like any other marketing venue, AccountingWEB noted. Facebook works through word-of-mouth advertising, as someone who favorites a page will automatically share that news with friends and followers. To garner the most attention, users need to feel connected to both the page and the accountant; that means sharing photos, behind-the-scenes tidbits and company milestones to engrain the brand into people's lives. Additionally, every comment from followers needs a response to perpetuate the idea that there's an actual human being behind the screen. Often, the best Facebook accounts emphasize specific details, according to Forbes. That means:

  • Cover photos need to pop, as they're often the first thing viewed.
  • Fill the About section with as many details as possible, including a biography, contact information and a roster of personnel.
  • Recruit colleagues to be the first to like the page, which helps build credibility.
  • Offer exclusive content to reinforce the importance of the actual page

Even the timing of posts is vital. According to Social Media Today, the best times to post are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time Monday through Thursday. Often, this is when most people are around their computers for extended periods of time.

How Pinterest can make the difference
Though seen as a kind of novelty digital scrapbook, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn and YouTube combined, according to a study by Shareaholic. The key, then, is knowing the specific practices that optimize overall site usage:

  • Emphasize SEO tactics, as they're the best way to improve traffic.
  • Use images, which help a website perform better in searches.
  • Remain visible by sharing frequently and forging relationships with users.
  • Backlink to promote any services you offer.

Given the inherent parameters of Pinterest, it's best to use it less for direct business and more as a demonstration of brand individuality, according to PDFConverter.com. To that end, humor and other lively topics should be the focus, as pictures, videos and infographics humanize a person or entity. These allow users to forge a bond with an organization, which promotes their continued loyalty. Unlike Facebook, which can inundate users with features, Pinterest strips the communicative process to its most essential components.

Nexus: G-WEBCD1