Blogging and social networking truly remind your clients and colleagues of why, when and how to recommend or refer you. Here are some tips on how to put social media status updates and other low-maintenance missives to work for you:
Don’t sell … do share. Selling accounting services on your blog or in status updates is the No. 1 faux pas. Rather, educate and share related links. By highlighting your breadth of expertise, readers will ask you questions that will lead to more billable hours. Likewise, comment on others’ blog articles, status updates and group discussions. Invite them to e-mail or phone you, to avoid privacy or ethics violations.
Focus on what you know and what you’re doing. Blog posts and status updates are reminders of what you’re doing or what your clients should be doing (for example, preparing for tax deadlines). Mentions of upcoming seminars and media are subtle commercial plugs. You can also explain accounting jargon, credentials and other specialized acronyms. Likewise, discuss upcoming or recently passed tax laws and other regulations.
Be a resource for new clients. Your blog is a handy resource for referrals to learn about you, and how to prepare before meeting with you. They don’t know what they don’t know: Teach them what to ask a CPA before choosing one. Dispel misconceptions about your practice. Share the unique accounting nuances of your target market (such as specialized accounting for contractors or nonprofits). Tell readers what documents to bring and to store. Keep track of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from clients; answer them on your blog so others can benefit. Mention these resources in status updates.
Appreciate others through your blog and updates. Your blog provides a public platform for you to thank your staff and partners for their work. Clients will learn about your firm this way. You can also thank clients and colleagues for their referrals. Moreover, you can congratulate others for their charitable leadership. Just be sure to get the appropriate permissions before posting names.
Share your continuing education and personal development. What are you reading … right now? What CPE courses are you attending … right now? Share your experience and thoughts through your blog. This helps clients, prospective clients and other referral sources learn how you continually sharpen your expertise. You can also share nonaccounting reading and personal development information. Again, this educates your readers and showcases you as a well-rounded CPA.
K.I.S.S. with multimedia. Keep It Short and Simple: Blog posts can be PowerPoint slides (embedded using SlideShare), YouTube videos, or diagrams, graphs, cartoons and other images. Likewise, your blog posts and status updates can link to longer articles.
Integrate your blog and social media updates into your practice. You don’t have to blog/update every day, but you should do so more than once a month. Many CPAs post a new blog article twice a month and send out a digest as an e-newsletter (with a “read more” link back to their website). Link back via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It’s handy to mention your LinkedIn or other social networking profiles in your e-mail signature. (For more on LinkedIn in this issue, see “LinkedIn Tips for CPAs,” page 44 and “Are You Linked In?” page 48.) Remind clients (and other referral sources) that your website has a resource section, that is, your blog.
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally appeared in the AICPA CPA Insider newsletter.
More from the JofA: