This is a guest post by Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., Managing Partner at branding and marketing firm Hinge.
Let’s face it: plenty of firms waste plenty of time on Facebook and Twitter. Like any tool, social media is only effective when it’s used correctly, but it’s a new enough tool that the ink isn’t dry on the instruction manual.
Hinge conducted a study of 500 professional services firms in the U.S., taking a close look at the social media techniques of high growth and average growth companies. Again and again, these five social media marketing tips proved pivotal:
1. Understanding the Toolbox
The most successful firms understand that platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook aren’t interchangeable. They have different user bases and different strengths.
Take LinkedIn. It isn’t just a great tool for recruitment; it’s great for targeted content promotion, too. By participating in specific business groups — called, appropriately enough, LinkedIn Groups — you can build your reputation, brand awareness, and credibility in a highly targeted circle of professionals.
Twitter allows you to easily search, track, and participate in conversations across the globe. It’s particularly well suited to firms that want to promote a constant stream of content. Facebook is the largest social network and best suited for ongoing relationships; for firms looking to build trust and cultivate relationships, it may be the right tool.
2. Finding the Right Audience
Social media is like the world’s most crowded room. If you intend to accomplish any work there, you need to know who you’re looking for, how to find them, and what you intend to say. If you’re targeting executives, LinkedIn Groups may present your best opportunity to share ideas and build credibility with industry leaders. If you want to cast a wider net, Twitter’s search functionality can be a powerful tool.
Eric Majchrazak of CPA firm Freed Maxick uses Twitter to find specific groups that could benefit from his company’s expertise. Searching for terms like “recommend accountant” leads him to conversations with potential clients, and gives him an opportunity to build relationships.
3. A Foundation of Content
High-value content. Lead-generating content. This is the beating heart of your online strategy. Once you’ve identified your target demographic, you can demonstrate that you understand its problems and you know how to solve them.
Take PrimePay, a leading payroll, tax, HR, insurance, and benefits company. PrimePay creates educational content for HR professionals who need assistance. By promoting high-value, targeted, problem-solving content, PrimePay attracts qualified leads to their website. The takeaway? The better your content, the easier it is to promote.
4. Don’t Dabble
The biggest social media mistake many firms make is under-investment. To pay off, social media requires dogged effort and determination: thirty minutes to an hour with each platform every day, sharing content, finding communities, and building relationships.
Nancy Mullin, Manager of Marketing and Interactive Services at PrimePay, recalls the difficult early days. “It’s tough in the beginning,” she said. “You’re writing all of these posts, you don’t have many subscribers, and you start to think…is this worth it? We stuck it out, and it paid off.”
5. Being Responsive
Social media marketing is social — a conversation. “Leads lose effectiveness by a factor of 6x within the first hour of not being responded to,” says Bryan Eisenberg, author of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark.
Xtivia CEO Dennis Robinson takes the same approach, personally confirming that all leads receive responses within 15 minutes. “If you think you can wait a day, you’re wrong,” says Robinson. “If you sit there and wait, they’ve already found a competitor.”
You can’t allocate five minutes every day to writing a tweet; your firm has to stand ready to continue a conversation and nurture a lead.
Unpacking the Toolbox
Let’s recap. To generate leads effectively, a firm needs to embrace these five social media marketing tips:
- Know the strengths and uses of social media tools
- Define the target audience for your message
- Create great, lead-generating content
- Commit, don’t dabble
- Be ready to respond promptly
High growth firms are defined in part by their mastery of these strategies, and now firms like yours can learn from those success stories. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn don’t have to be wastes of time or missed opportunities. Use these social media marketing tips wisely, and they can be the sources of your next great lead.
Lee is Managing Partner at Hinge, a branding and marketing firm for the professional services. He is also co-author of the book Online Marketing for Professional Services, which is available for free download.