‘The only way you will get me to agree to a website is over my dead body’ exclaimed the CEO of a major insurance broker to me ten years ago. Today the same insurance broker has one of the most sophisticated websites in that market and the new CEO takes great pride in telling me that he has a dedicated web budget to make sure that it is checked for search engine optimisation and regularly updated.
However, strangely when it comes to social media his reaction was very similar to his predecessor. ‘Social media, ridiculous! Why should I tell people what I had for breakfast? We don’t need that sort of nonsense!”
And yet if you listen to business people on the phone or even at networking events, they will always start with fairly inane remarks. “How are you? How was your holiday? Terrible weather we are having?” This is all part of the art of conversation which in turn helps build relationships, creates trust and ultimately leads to doing business with each other.
Social media is simply another way of having conversations with people, of building trust and a following which ultimately will lead to doing business. Think of it as a new communication tool like a telephone or the internet. Think of it as a way of getting in front of millions of people that you could never hope to meet.
Professional services have always lagged behind consumer marketing. The ‘professions’ distrust the newfangled world, embrace tradition and hate change. And yet it is these very companies that claim to be the thought leaders of their industry.
How can social media add value and create ROI for the professions?
- create profile and enhance reputation
- support thought leadership campaigns by drawing attention to articles and campaigns
- address big issues
- respond immediately and publicly to any concerns
- enhance the perception that the company is ahead of the game
- demonstrate that the company is ready to engage and is not afraid to state its case
- show that the organisation is dynamic, modern and cares about communicating its values
- promote its expertise and stay on potential customers radar
- enhance promotional, publicity and advertising campaigns
- create an attractive and compelling environment for potential and existing employees
Our ‘Social media in accountancy’ report provides an evaluation of the top 60 (by fee income) firms. Many are hindered from achieving results by confining social channels to broadcast brand information rather than encouraging conversations and working collaboratively with online audiences. Our report demonstrates the importance of taking a human approach to social marketing.