This blog post is an excerpt from our eBook, The Professional Services Social Media Marketing Guide. To get a full copy of the eBook, complete the form at the bottom of this post.
Professional services firms have been a bit slower to embrace social media than most businesses, but that's changing quickly. If you think that B2B buyers aren't using social to scout firms and seed relationships, think again. Maintaining a social presence is simply smart business, and the big social channels are versatile enough that you have the power to shape the narrative around your firm, without sacrificing the unique identity that sets you apart from your competition.
Social media is a highly effective marketing tool, but it's relationship-building potential is just as important as it's advertising benefits, especially for professional services firms. The ability to research, engage, and convert clients through social expands you're reach far beyond what can be accomplished through traditional marketing tools. We're not saying that you need to ditch traditional marketing channels entirely, but now is definitely the time to start building your firm's social presence, if you haven't already.
Getting started, though, can seem like a pretty tall task. While there's no doubt that an effective social media presence requires an investment of time and skilled labor, you don't have to worry about starting from scratch. The public knowledge base on social media marketing is immense, so there's much to be learned from businesses that have already blazed the trail you plan to follow.
You just need to know where to look. Ahead, we'll cover how professional services firms can leverage the four major social sites – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ – to market, network, and generate new business. We'll provide tips on how to get started, where to find your audience, and how to refine your social presence over time. And of course, we'll dive into the benefits of analytics, a tool every professional services firm will feel right at home putting to work.
When in Doubt, Test It Out
Before we dive into the good stuff, a word of advice. Social media is not an exact science, even though there are plenty of excellent examples to follow. Your business and your audience are both unique, so testing tactics is the best way to find out what will work for you. We'll provide plenty of useful tips to get you started in the pages ahead, and we hope that you'll build on that advice to create your own unique social presence.
The analytics dashboard for each social site is especially important, because that's where you'll learn which tactics, content types, and update patterns work for your audience. It's a constant process of learning, optimization, and iteration. If you're willing to embrace that aspect of social media, you're already well on your way to success.
The Simple Stuff: Getting Started with Social Profiles
Before we dive into the specifics of each social platform, there are some basics to cover which apply more or less across the board. Every social site has some form of profile page, where your connections can learn the basics about your business. Your profile page will often be your first point of contact with people who find you through social, and it's always going to be on display. In other words, this isn't a difficult step, but it's an important one to get right.
- ·Contact information is pretty straightforward, especially when you're first setting up your profile. Just make sure that everything's accurate, and provide multiple options for people to contact you.
·As time goes on, be sure to update your info promptly with any relevant changes – a change in website URL, new email addresses, or new employees in key positions. It's important that your info always reflects the current state of your business.
·There is room for creativity in your profile page, and it comes in the “about us” section. While the size and prominence of this section differs from site to site, you'll usually have just a few sentences to provide an impression of your business.
·This is a chance to touch on the culture and values that drive your business, so try to avoid the generic “Founded in [X year], [our business] has been serving [X location] for [X years].” Instead, try highlighting something specific about the community you serve, your top employees, your most popular services, or anything else that goes beyond the generic.
·If you work with a competitive edge, or like to diffuse challenges with humor, the “about us” section is a great place to show off those values. As we'll touch on often throughout our guide, the key is to know your audience.
A Few Words in Parting on Managing Your Audience
Before we go, it's time to address the elephant in the room. More than 71 million people follow Katy Perry on Twitter. Every time Cristiano Ronaldo posts a shirtless selfie to Instagram, it's seen by over 51 million followers. Heck, Tom from MySpace still probably has a few hundred thousand friends knocking around his old stomping grounds. Do yourself a favor, and don't worry about the race to rack up as many followers as possible.
Growing your audience is absolutely a worthy goal, but it's important to focus on quality first and foremost. When you share valuable content, build relationships with your audience, and help people resolve challenges, what you're really doing is fostering a sustainable, engaged audience. That's where your qualified leads will come from, and how you'll generate the best return on your social media marketing investment. Take care of your audience, and they'll take care of you. Social media should be an essential element of your professional services marketing strategy.