By now most accounting firms understand that they need to be using social media. The big question that is often left unanswered is “How do I organically grow my social media following?”.
It is this questions that we aim to answer in this article.
Let me give you a bit of background as to why we are qualified to help you with this. Since 2009 I have been using the social media platforms. Very quickly I realised that to really reap the benefits one needed to understand how to maximise their effectiveness.
Whilst I was living in Wiltshire I got known as the Social Media Queen. I was obsessed with understanding how to do it well, and build relationships. I launched the Salisbury TweetUp which regularly had 20-30 businesses who used Twitter join us once a month to meet offline as well as online. In 2012/2013 Salisbury embraced social media, and much of that initial surge was down to the training and support I gave the area.
For a year I also went around the South West of the UK training the Church Of England Diocese to use Twitter to grow their congregation and build relationships (I only had one vicar walk out of the events!).
And for our business we have built an organic following of over 50,000 people not including my personal Facebook profile.
1) Between my Twitter profiles we have organically built a following of over 20,000 people.
2) On my Facebook Business Amanda C. Watts Profile I have nearly 25,000 followers.
3) On my LinkedIn I have over 6,000 followers.
Whilst I have a huge passion for social media, I soon realised that there were certain actions that make or break social media platforms, and their ability to help you get clients and build your personal and business brand.
All of these actions have to come from the place of Relationship First, Sales Second™.
So, let’s dive on in and answer the question you want answered: How do I organically grow my social media followers?
Personal Brand, Not Business Brand
You may notice that the success I have had with my social media has been on profiles that have been me, not my business.
Whilst we have an active Twitter following for TwentyTwo Agency, it is my personal profile that gets far more attention as people want to speak and interact with people, not a faceless business.
Whilst you may be tempted to build a Twitter profile that is solely your accounting practice, I beg you to consider using a picture of you, and mentioning in the Bio your name so that people know there is a person behind the business.
When you get to be the size of PWC then, of course, this will need reconsidering. But whilst you are a medium-sized firm with 1-20 employees, you can stay the face of your Twitter profile.
The problem with Facebook is that you are unable to change the name of your Facebook Business Page. When we launched the business, we were called KennedyPR. I started a business page and grew it to a few thousand followers.
When we changed the business name a few months ago to TwentyTwo Agency we could not take the Facebook page with us.
This meant starting again with the Facebook page which was highly frustrating. However, on the plus side, I also have a Public Figure Page for Amanda C. Watts and have built this over the years and not lost my following of almost 14,000.
The lesson here is that no matter how much you build your followers, the social media platforms own the rule book and you may be bitterly disappointed if you wanted to have a rebrand and you can’t take your followers with you.
My advice for a Facebook Business Page is – make sure that you are 100% committed to the business name, and that you are not thinking of having a rebrand in the next couple of years. It could be a disaster for you if you do.
If you are thinking of growing your Personal Brand and position yourself as a go-to expert, it may be a better idea to have a Personal Business Page (under your name rather than business) that people can follow, especially if you are looking to be an influencer.
LinkedIn is an interesting platform. In all honesty, it is my favourite. The ability to forge real relationships outshines all the other platforms tenfold.
Whilst I have managed to build a huge number of connections, I would seriously advise any person who wants to use LinkedIn to build relationships and keep the connections to a manageable number.
That way your relationship building can be deeper.
Website Is The Hub of it all
I know you want to grow your social media following, and to do this you need to get your website working for you.
Your website should be the key driver of people to your social media platforms. Nothing is more frustrating than going to a website and not being able to see their links/interactions on Facebook and Twitter, or connect to them on LinkedIn.
If you don’t have a website for your accounting firm that has the ability to direct people to follow you on social media, it may be time to tweak your website or even have a complete redesign to bring it into the 21st Century.
To maximise the effectiveness of having your website drive people to your social media have the following:
- Social media follow buttons on every page
- Have a call to action at the bottom of blogs to follow your social media
- Have your social media pages listed on your contact page
Integrate Your Email
Once you have your website working well for you, and you are using it to drive people to your social media, you want to do the same with your email platforms.
I am assuming (almost naively as most of the accounting websites I come across don’t do this) that you have a way to capture your visitors email and offer them an eBook or something else full of value in exchange for that email address.
This assumption leads me on to another assumption that you have a prospect and client database that you email once a month at least.
Anytime that you send out these emails you need to ensure that you have a link to drive people to your social media so they can follow you on there.
Using email and social media together will improve the relationships that you build as your subscribers can interact with you on a daily/weekly basis.
As well as your database, you can also add links to your social media when you send out your regular emails to friends, associates, enquires, suppliers and anyone else who you email.
By surrounding your clients with multiple ways they can interact with your business – relationship are built, and deals are made. An integrated approach to social media builds the know, like, trust factor.
You are far more likely to have your content shared if people feel like they know you. If you post an update on Facebook, then your friends will like it. Your aim in your firm is to turn your prospects and clients into evangelists who love your content so much they want to share it and tag their friends in it.
This means that time needs to be spent building relationships offline to enhance your online activities.
Ask For Support
Once you feel you know someone well enough it is time to ask them to support you. Ask your clients, friends, partners, family to retweet your tweets, share your updates, and connect you to people.
Did you know that by simply asking people to retweet your tweets you can generate 4x more retweets than not asking?
Dan Zarella from Hubspot did some research on this:
“First, I looked at the percentage of tweets that were retweeted and found that 51% of tweets that included “Please ReTweet” were retweeted more than once, 39% of those including “Please RT” were retweeted more than once, and only 12% of tweets that included neither were retweeted more than once.
This data shows, with 99% confidence, that tweets including either “Please ReTweet” or “Please RT” are more likely to get retweeted than tweets without those phrases.”
Follow Your Ideal Clients
This might be such a simple idea but I don’t see people doing it. If you want to be seen by your prospective clients, follow them!
How do we do this across the social media platforms?
Twitter – this is easy – follow people who are following your competitors. If you are sharing excellent value/tweets/updates they will follow you back.
Facebook – on Facebook you can request your personal profile friends to “Like” your Facebook business page. The only problem with this is they may not be your ideal customers.
However, if they are happy to support you and share your updates then you will start to reach their friends, and then you will be reaching more potential followers. Facebook is a monkey though, it only shows less than 3% of your updates to your followers.
Unless you pay to boost your posts or advertise you will have a very small reach from Facebook.
LinkedIn – connect with everyone you know, and everyone you meet. Make sure you send a personal invite. By sharing excellent content you will also attract followers and connections that you may not know. My suggestion is connect with them if they fit your target market, and start building that relationship.
Brand Your Profiles
Make sure that you look professional online. Your branding needs to be strong, and sit in line with your overall brand. If people are familiar with your business already, they will feel very comfortable following your social media if it sits in line with your brand.
Schedule Once, Check Daily
98% of my posts go out via Buffer.com and lead back to my blogs or interesting information I have found that is relevant to my target audience.
That being said every day I go into my social media profiles to build relationships, say thank you for support and comment on other people’s updates. This schedule one, check daily approach has enabled me to minimise my time, but maximise results.
If potential followers see you interact as well as post, they will want to join in the conversation.
Use One Platform First
Whenever I go to networking events I don’t ask people for their email. I ask “Are you on Linkedin?”
After the event (or during) I make a point of connecting on LinkedIn and continuing the conversation. From their LinkedIn I check out their Twitter and Facebook pages and follow them.
I then send a message and say I have followed them and give them a link to follow me back if they want to.
This builds interactive followers which then helps grow my social media following more.
How can you use this approach with your meetings/networking/interactions with people?
Don’t Get Hooked On Numbers
Social media can be overwhelming, especially if you are having to follow hundreds of people and are hoping they will follow you back.
500 supportive social media followers that you have a relationship with is far better than 20,000 people who have no care or regard for you or your firm.
Think quality over quantity and you will find that social media works for your business so you get remembered, recommended and referred.
To follow me on social media please click on the links:
P.S. When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting practice:
1. Grab free copy of my book
It’s the roadmap to attracting better prospects, signing higher value clients and scaling your accounting firm. – Click Here
2. Take the test.
It will benchmark your firms ability to effortlessly attract, connect with & convert high value clients using the Pioneering Practice Scorecard. – Click here
3. Join the tribe and connect with firms who are growing too.
It’s our new Facebook community where ambitious founders, owners, and partners learn to attract better prospects, sign higher value clients and scale their accounting firm. – Click here