Can accountants and lawyers use social media well?By Paul Hutchinson
As professional sectors such as law and accountancy face increasing pressure to engage with their future and current clients, Paul Hutchinson tells us that social media can play a massive part in their success.
Let’s quickly lay an argument to rest straight away, social media is here to stay. You might think it odd that someone in my position feels the need to highlight that in an opening sentence but you’ll be surprised how many professions still think that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al are just a fad.
For hundreds of years some professional firms, like those of lawyers and accountants, have sat in local towns and successfully waited for their clients to come to them. They didn’t really have a need to push themselves on the local population as there were usually only a few of them offering the professional services their clients needed, and there was plenty of business to go around.
Clients are in charge
While changes like Alternative Business Structures in law have opened up the market like never before, clients and customers are also realising the power they have in choosing what services they pay for. No longer do they have to visit one of two firms on the high street, they now have hundreds at their disposal either on the phone or online and they can get their professional needs looked after with a few clicks of a mouse, and a lot less cash leaving their pockets.
So how do you ensure that you show them you are still the best firm for the job? A cost effective way of doing this is to establish yourself on social media and show what you have to offer. Social media isn’t hard but it does need careful planning and management. There are agencies that understand the importance of ensuring professional organisations retain their professional image, while reaching their current and future clients easily.
Take the plunge
If you want to try out social media yourself, don’t hesitate. You can set up a personal account to start with which will help you get the hang of it and allow you to follow some other professionals to see what they are doing. Social media by its very definition is a social place and many do not mind you asking questions about how to do certain things.
One of the quickest social media platforms to get the hang of is Twitter. Suggestions to follow include David Allen Green, Barbara-Hamilton Bruce, Jeremy Hopkins, and Charon QC. Businesses include Riverview Law and Legal Futures. With each account you’ll notice a varying mix of business and professional tweets but all are absolutely professional. These are the people and businesses that consumers see and say: “Yes, I want them to carry out my work for me.”
Like any new skill it might take some time to get fully comfortable with what you are doing but there are lots of resources to help you. Video site You Tube is an excellent resource to use. Simply type into their search bar ‘how do I use twitter?’, for example, and there will be hundreds of videos showing you. Do try and make sure you watch a recent video though as the processes for using each social media platforms can change from time to time as they improve their systems.
Look to see if a particular colleague might be best placed to run your social media presence. This could be anyone at any level but do please bear in mind recent news where senior managers were not fully involved in their social media protocols and mistakes were made. This is unlikely to happen to you but it is worth remembering that social media should be treated like any other form of external communication.
Many larger professional organisations are already ensuring they factor social media into their communications and marketing plans, smaller firms must do the same. It might mean you need to bring a new skill set to your staff, or you might outsource the responsibility so you can continue to focus on what it is you do best, but you must not just pay social media lip service. You don’t have to dive in, by all means dip your toe in the water first but do join us soon, after all, the water’s lovely.
Paul Hutchinson is PR and Marketing Executive for Black Letter PR and Social Media Manager for Legal Futures and tweets in a personal capacity from @Hutch_Pr
You can hear Paul’s interview in Episode 8 of the show “Professional Firms and Social Media”