7 Social Media Pitfalls for Tax Pros

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7 Social Media Pitfalls for Tax Pros
October 9, 2014

This week’s post is from a great friend of ours, @Karenlreyburn.

Karen is the owner of The Profitable Firm across the pond, where she specializes in helping tax and accounting professionals with their online marketing.

This is a must-read for any tax pro who wants to benefit from social media.

- William Hamilton, Co-Founder – SmartCenter

P.S. - Kudos to any Atari fans who recognized the photo. ;) ^^^

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So, social media. Sick of hearing about it yet?

That’s okay – feel free to ignore it. I will warn you, though – social media is just another tool your prospects use to check you out. Even if you get most of your new accounting business from referrals, where do you think those referred people go first, before they get in touch?

Your website is your marketing hub, and that’s probably the first place people look. But the second area of most interest to them is social media, because it answers these questions:

  • How modern are you?
  • What do you talk about?
  • How interesting are you or your firm?
  • What’s your personality? Do you even have one?
  • What do your clients say about you?
  • What do you say about yourself?
  • Do you respond?
  • Do you care?
  • Are you around?

It’s entirely optional for your firm to use social media, but know that if your competitors are using it, and you’re not, there is definitely business that you are missing as a result.

Before you jump in and start tweeting like a pro, I’d like to give you a little gentle guidance on some typical pitfalls for accountants when it comes to social media.

Please don’t let this discourage you. “First you say to use it, then you give me a hard time for trying!” That’s not the intention. But if you have the right focus and attitude, social media will be easy – and that’s what it’s supposed to be. Easy.

Typical Pitfalls for Accountants on Social Media:

1. Viewing social media as a sales platform.

You are not here to sell. This should relieve you in every way. You don’t have to sell a single thing – and because you’re in the professional services line, you may never even have to mention your services specifically. Your primary purpose on social media is to share, give, and connect.

2. Being “a firm”, not a human being (or a group of human beings).

I realize this can be difficult, but the best option is for you to just talk about who you are and what you’re doing and what you and your clients find interesting. When I set up my own personal Twitter account, @karenlreyburn (rather than tweeting everything from our company Twitter, @ProfitableFirm), I was shocked at how much better conversations I had, and how many of them turned into connections and then emails and then meetings and then business.

3. Sharing generic content.

This is particularly relevant to tax accountants. No matter how interesting the new tax tables are to you, or how firmly you believe that your clients need to know about Section 45.107b and how it will save them thousands, it has to be shared in a way that is relevant, interesting, and easy to follow.

Bad example: “New IRS legislation requires ex-restaurateurs to nullify past returns and regulates 74 points critical to open locations.” (In case you’re really confused, I totally made that up….but now you know how your prospective clients feel.)

Good example: “Used to own a restaurant, but still hold the property? Talk to us about saving $4,000 this year.”

4. Being pushy.

I’m surprised I even have to bring this one up, but I see it far too often. It’s as though the accountants who decide to get on social media suddenly become used car salesmen. “Follow us now, NOW, NOW!!”  “Have you followed us on Facebook? Google Plus? Pinterest? Instagram?”

The online world is perfectly capable of finding you on social media if you’ve set it up properly.

If they’ve found you on Twitter and suddenly decide they want to follow you on Facebook, they’ll just click your website address (which had better be on your Twitter profile, by the way). There, all your social media icons should be standing like sentries, awaiting the all-important click. 

Tip: Put all your social media icons in a banner or a section at the top right hand side of your website. It’s where the eye goes when someone is looking for contact details.

Oh, and my personal opinion is that generic, instant DMs (direct messages, on Twitter) are tacky, and pushy. #fwiw

5. Posting all at once, not consistently over time.

Social media is like a raging river. Like white water rapids. You’ll enjoy it for a little while, and then you get out and go home and warm up with some hot chocolate. (Or a glass of wine. That warms you up, too, right?)

You’ve got to drop things in regularly, consistently. If you retweet twelve items and share six more and respond to all your notifications…..and then leave it for two weeks….then almost all of that will get missed.

Tip: Use Hootsuite or some other social media control panel to manage your tweets and your other social media content.

6. Following everyone who follows you.

If the prospecting for new business world is like dating, then the firm who follows every single person or account who follows them is the guy who’s just that bit too desperate. Bit needy.

You should have a niche or target market – here’s a blog post I wrote all about having a niche for your accountancy firm. When you have that, following becomes easy. Focus on those who are in your target area. Let the others follow if they like.

7. Giving up because you “don’t see results”.

Let me be clear. Social media will get you results – in the long run. But like many online marketing elements, it’s a team effort that has the best results when it ties in with your overall content marketing strategy.

Your website should be your marketing hub. It’s where you drive people, no matter what you share on any social media engine. Blog links, landing pages, video, client testimonials – everything swirls about and lands your prospective clients right back on your website again, where they can sign up or get in touch or follow your blog or download something or register for an event. That’s where you truly see results.

Look forward to connecting with you!

About Karen Reyburn ​Karen is the Owner & Director of The Profitable Firm and specializes in helping tax pros with their online marketing. In her spare time Karen loves Scotland, finding and sharing beauty, and wearing bright colors. Connect with her on Twitter | @karenlreyburn​