Can you imagine having to prepare a tax return, track adjusting journal entries, and/or close a client’s books all by hand (aka without a computer)?! Now, what if I told you that you had to work in that environment throughout an entire tax season?
As a young CPA, it blows my mind that most partners in our industry started their careers this way. But these days things are drastically different.
The Rise of the Social Media for Business
It’s no secret that the internet and the explosion of technology over the last 20 years has not only changed the world but has also revolutionized the accounting industry.
But with great change comes great opportunity. The way we do our work has changed, and so has the way we can reach out to and connect with potential clients.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter have taken the world by storm. Statista reports that in 2017, 80% of individuals in the United States had a social media account.
And with numbers like that, it’s no surprise that Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s revenue from ads have been growing at an average of 33% and 14% year over year since 2015. This continued growth trend suggests that buying advertising space on social media platforms is working for many businesses in all kinds of different industries.
Social Media for Accounting
But how does an accountant become likeable enough on social media to turn views and ads into revenue? The answer to this question can actually be narrowed down to three words; branding, branding, and… BRANDING!
Building an effective brand will transform you from an everyday accountant into an online financial influencer, and people from across the country will be knocking down your door willing to pay you hundreds of dollars just to answer a simple question.
So how do we actually build an effective brand? Although the process can seem daunting and time consuming, I have developed a list of steps that will help you build a bulletproof online brand that will drive visibility, engagement, leads, and ultimately – sales.
1. The Riches are in the Niches
There are not very many good examples of accounting professionals or firms that are well known on social media. There is one thing that distinctively separates the professionals with a strong online presence from those with average ones: a strong hold in their individual niche or area of expertise.
A good example of this is Hector Garcia, CPA. He has built a very successful brand on YouTube. He didn’t do it by posting all sorts of videos about debits & credits, balance sheets, profit and losses, taxes, or other sorts of random accounting topics.
He chose to focus the major majority of his videos on how to navigate different types of QuickBooks platforms. Hector has built his subscription base to nearly 38,000 people, meaning that every time he posts a video, 38K people see he made a new post. Talk about exposure…
2. Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts! – Find Industry Pain Points
After you have developed a good niche, it’s important to find the pain points that exist within that niche and then focus a lot of your attention addressing those issues.
In our previous example, Hector chose to focus on the difficulties that individuals and small business owners may have navigating the QuickBooks platforms. By focusing on addressing those issues, he made himself the “go-to” guy for questions about how to fix people’s problems within their Intuit accounting systems.
In my accounting firm, I work with real estate agents and brokers. I have found earlier in my career that these individuals seem to struggle with tax planning and keeping their businesses organized throughout the year.
After gaining an understanding of my ideal clients’ pain points by talking to and working with people in that industry, I decided to shift all of my focus to addressing those issues and showing agents and brokers exactly how I can add my value to their business.
3. Smile, You’re on Camera – Creating Content
Content creation might be the most difficult piece of the puzzle for most accountants who want to start marketing their firm online. As a CPA myself, I’ll admit that most accounting and tax professionals I know tend to struggle with creativity.
However, this element of branding is super important because if you aren’t making posts that are engaging and captivating to your audience, then you are wasting your time.
It’s important to become very comfortable with being on camera. Like all things in life, all it takes is a little practice to become a seasoned professional in front of the camera.
Start filming yourself and making videos regularly talking about your ideal clients’ different pain points and other topics they’ll find valuable. Then take the footage and sit down with your significant other, kids, or someone else and watch it back over. It will be uncomfortable, but it will make you grow!
4. The True Cost of an Algorithm – Consistency
After you develop a good amount of content (2-3 weeks worth) start posting and NEVER stop!
Don’t make the mistake I did. I jumped out and started posting right out of the gate and found myself struggling to develop more content after 2 weeks.
Within each social media platform there are certain algorithms that make those who follow you see your posts. If you rarely post, your posts won’t be discovered by majority of your audience.
By posting regularly, you boost your “popularity” within the algorithms and begin to have increased engagement as more and more of your following see your posts. This doesn’t happen overnight, but create a content calendar for your business so you will be consistent.
5. You Can Communicate Outside of Tax Season – Responsiveness
As you grow, you will begin to have people comment on your content. DO NOT IGNORE THEM. This is the step that will take you from a average everyday social media person to a full-blown influencer.
Respond to questions, make comments, say “thank you,” and be personable. You can respond briefly to questions without going into to much detail, and yes, you can do it for free.
Chances are your short answer will only lead to more questions and it’s very likely that you will be the go-to person they reach out to from then on. Not only that, but the chances are high that other individuals will come across those questions and reach out for further assistance as well.
Everybody likes to be heard. Your responses validate their comments and questions.
6. Photoshop Is So Last Year – Be Genuine
Don’t put up a front that you can’t sustain. In other words, don’t go pose in front of your brother’s Ferrari in an attempt to prove to everyone that your somewhat successful.
It may work for a week or two, but what happens when you finally post something while driving your Toyota Corolla? Besides, everyone knows that accountants don’t drive Ferraris.
Being genuine will allow you to maintain your content development as well as stay connected with the individuals you want to be connected with. Continuously post what you have going on with your firm. Post about events you went to, what you are doing to prepare for tax season, or posing with client you ran into at the store.
Consistent posts that are genuine will grow your social media presence in the right way and will create longevity on all your platforms.
Social Media is Key to CPA Firm Marketing
Although using social media to market your business is still not well understood by many accounting firms and tax practices, it is a powerful tool for all businesses out there, including accountants.
By following the above steps I’ve outlined, you will be able to grow an effective brand that will drive leads and sales for years to come.
In other words, proper accounting is not optional in this industry where even small startups are doing multi million in sales. We bill high fixed fees and our clients expect this as they need our help.