How to use social media to move your career forward
Accountancy hasn’t always been at the cutting edge when it comes to technology. However, neither individual nor business can ignore the impact or benefits of social media with those who embrace it increasingly becoming the ‘winners’, and those who don’t becoming evermore ‘invisible’ to both their clients and potential employers
With all the opportunities it offers to build brand, develop reputation and increase customer loyalty, firms are waking up to what social media has to offer, even investing in full-time social media managers and strategists, rather than assigning such tasks to existing employees. No one can afford to leave social media on the back burner for much longer, but if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, the plethora of social media platforms and channels available can seem mystifying and overwhelming.
So where to start?
Everybody’s heard of Facebook of course. Love it or hate it, this is the Number 1 social networking site. Once just a platform for personal contacts, as it heads towards its 10th birthday, now having a Facebook presence is considered an essential marketing tool not just for individuals but also for business – one study has shown that having a Facebook page can increase customer loyalty by more than one third!
LinkedIn, however, still remains the preferred social networking site for professional connections – it’s one of the first ports of call for recruiters looking for potential employees and headhunters researching clients and candidates. Now, not having an active LinkedIn profile can put any professional behind the game, particularly so if you’re an active job seeker.
Then there’s Twitter. Though its constrictive 140-character limit requires skill to use effectively, this micro-blogging site’s become the default client or customer-service method because it’s seen as a great way to be ‘responsive’ and to deliver information fast.
Using social media to communicate, projects a transparent, trustworthy image that shows you are not only listening to your market, but that you also care about your clients and their particular needs. However, while Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter may be among the most obvious social media channels, they are just the tip of a much larger iceberg.
Google+ certainly can’t be ignored, given that this ‘social networking layer’, as Google calls it, is now an integral component of the company’s grand scheme for providing us all with a more personalised online search experience.
YouTube is the online platform where four billion videos are viewed each day as both businesses and individuals upload them to promote a product, a service, or themselves. Embedding video into a website is simple and can be done with just a smartphone, greatly improving your search engine ranking given that YouTube’s been owned by Google since 2006.
Perhaps less familiar to many is the realm of micro-video. Vine for instance, like ‘a Twitter for moving images’, enables you to post 6 seconds of video, while Instagram allows up to 15 seconds’ worth. With video all set to be a major online communications channel in 2014, both are worth considering.
How could you use these social media channels effectively?
Maybe to deliver a quick burst of news, or to update colleagues on new regulations, or to conduct research, or even make a special offer to selected clients. So much more personal and engaging than words alone, which is why 60% of senior executives say they prefer to watch video on website before reading the text that’s on the same page.
Video can also work as a personal marketing tool, providing a platform you can use to raise your profile and build reputation with internal partners as well as your clients.
To supplement online video, there’s also Slideshare. Owned by LinkedIn and voted one of the world ‘top 10 tools for education & elearning’, with 60 million visitors monthly and 130 million pageviews, this is the largest community around for sharing presentations.
There’s no doubt constantly evolving social media will have an increasing impact on accountants, just as it will in every other profession and business sector. This means it’s sensible for any firm or practice, large or small to have a strategy to take advantage of this.
Which specific platforms you chose to use to demonstrate your expertise and high levels of client service will depend upon on your objectives and how you want to present yourself as an individual or business. However, failing to use any social media at all, ensures you will just fade out of view of potential clients, and leave existing ones feeling they’re dealing with a company that isn’t best serving their needs because it’s behind the times.
So start to see social media as an asset and you’ll find yourself much better equipped to build trust and dialogue with clients and potential employers.