Th e M ar ketin g EyeThe Marketing Eye TURN ON THE TWEETS A guide to harnessing social media for professional services firms
STARTING YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKING JOURNEY With a few exceptions, the professional services sector is still proving itself reluctant to embrace social media. A lack of understanding, a fear of the risks and a FACT: Only 7% of law firms and question mark over the returns, all lead to a preference 6% of individual practitioners are to watch from the stands rather than become on Twitter immersed in the thick of the action. And yet the public at large is being consumed by it, time spent online is dominated by it and the core attribute of trust is shaped by it. The firm that grasps social media will not only gain online presence, it will open the door to a whole new audience that is ready and willing to engage with a contemporary practice that is clearly open for business. Social media is not a campaign, it is not a tactic, it is a strategy – and not a stand-alone strategy at that: it is one part of a holistic marketing approach for an infinitely connected and complex world, where many factors affect lead generation and conversion. Show me the money...FACT: 600 million people use Let’s get one thing clear from the outset; social media rarely leads to direct sales.social media networks at leastonce daily. But before you go back to your work with a dismissive “I told you so”, take a moment to think about your clients’ buying process. People tend to be on social media sites to research or socialise, rather than shop. Social media creates passive action rather than positive action, which means it has its greatest impact early on in the buying process, when people are determining their requirements and browsing their options. What social media will do is: • Raise your brand awareness • Position your firm as a source of news and information • Create a relevant audience for your unique content and offers • Be a source of traffic to your website • Give your brand personality – followers buy into the people as well as the business • Encourage new followers and fans to join up and hear your message • Transcend geographical constraints Taking the time to engage online will see your business reap the rewards.
AVOIDING THE SNAKES AND CLIMBING THE LADDERSSo what should a professional services firm do to ensure it enjoys the benefits, while protecting itselffrom any possible downsides?At the end of 2011, the Law Society issued a practice note on social media. Practice notes representthe Law Society’s view of good practice for member firms in a particular area. The note on socialmedia is a balanced set of advice, which can be adapted and adopted by any business.Here are the main points: • Act with integrity• Don’t allow your independence to be compromised• Don’t do anything to compromise the trust the public places in you• Don’t break rules on confidentiality or disclosure• Don’t confuse personal and professional useA short social media policy is all it takes to put some firm-wide guidelines in place.Management: Who will manage your practice’s social media policy and be responsible for ensuringconfidentiality, compliance and consistency?Guidelines for engaging: What are the limitations on what can be discussed, commented on orpromoted?Roles and responsibilities: Who will take responsibility for the day-to-day administration of thedifferent activities and who will be able to participate in social media activity within your practice?Get company-owned accounts: Be sure your firm’s social media manager uses company (notpersonal) logins/accounts. You want to be sure that if they leave, your followers and passwords don’tgo out the door as well.Respect copyright, fair use and trademark laws: Be sure to get permission (for copyright materials),cite references and link to original sources.Once you have put in place the safeguards you feel your firm needs, you are ready to embrace thebenefits. Firms that are over-cautious in using social media tools are missing out on the ultimatebenefits. Firms that need a team of partners to scrub and approve each post are defeating theadvantages of the tools. The key is to set parameters and then educate and trust your staff to do therest.• Define your target market - and what it wants to read and share• Get the tone of your posts right - be relaxed, yet true to your brand personality• Identify which types of engagement are effective - this is likely to require some experimentation
• Look at it as a long term strategy - not as a tactical campaign• Keep it real and relevant - if you don’t have anything relevant to say today, don’t say it• Create a schedule for updates - regular updates are needed. Planning ahead and sharing the responsibility across the firm helps• Monitor and measure - there are plenty of free analytical tools available. Use them to measure, learn and improve.If your firm is not engaged in social media, now is the time to review your stance. We live in anabundant society. As human beings, we need direction and approval in the choices we make. We areno longer reading papers in the way we used to, instead we are gathering our news, information andrecommendations online. Your firm needs to be active and omnipresent in this space. Don’t allowfear and ignorance to be your reason to abstain.GO BACK TO BASICS WITH BLOGGINGBlogging is a basic, yet important tool when taking ona social media strategy and is a key way to promotingyour businesses news and views. By linking your blog FACT: There are 160 million blogs –posts across your social media networks, you will with 125 million readers daily.quickly pick up a keen and engaged audience.What does a blog aim to do?• A blog is somewhere to share your commentary or news• Blogs position your firm as proactive, transparent and an expert• Blog posts can be shared across social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter• Blogging will draw traffic to your website• A blog can create useful content to be used in newsletters and publicationsBlogging on a regular basis can drastically grow your web traffic. Search engines such as Google andBing like dynamic websites, as opposed to sites that never get updated. Blogging allows you to addkeyword-rich web pages to your website on a regular basis.Over time you will have created a content library full of valuable information, relevant to yourbusiness and your industry. And, unlike a newspaper advertisement, radio spot, or even a live event,each and every blog article that you create will, in theory, ‘live’ forever online (or at least as long asyou keep your website online).Creating relevant and valuable blog content on a regular basis is the most critical component in thedevelopment of a successful business to business content marketing strategy.
Top 10 blogging practicesBlogging is the cornerstone of any content marketing plan. It draws traffic to your website,demonstrates thought leadership and gives you a great base of content to repurpose for othermarketing tactics like newsletters, webinars and videos. Blogging is one of the best and most costefficient ways to generate and share your unique thought leadership:1. Share your unique perspective and experience. Be sure to infuse your blog posts with the knowledge and resources that you typically share with your own clients – this will provide value to your readers.2. Solve or address a problem. After reading your blog post, readers should have a solution or approach to tackle a particular issue or problem.3. Keep it conversational. Blog posts are intended to be short and informal. Write in a conversational tone and don’t be afraid to use a little personality and humour.4. Provide a call to action. What do you want your readers to do after reading your post? Share a comment, visit a website, attend an event, check back for another post. Invite readers to participate.5. Use keywords. Be sure to use keywords related to your business in your blog post and its title. Think of needs or pain points your audience might have and what terms they might search in effort to solve them. These will help your posts get pulled into search engine results and will also alert your reader to the overall subject of your post.6. Keep it to 400-600 words. This is the ideal length for a blog post and is the amount that people tend to read from start to finish. 250 words is considered too short for search engine optimisation, and 1,000 words is too much for readers to digest.7. Create an attention-grabbing headline. The title of your blog often determines whether your post gets read or not. People tend to be drawn to lists, provocative questions or benefits-oriented headlines.8. Promote your blog. Once you’ve created the content, don’t be afraid to promote it by sharing on all your social networks, or even by emailing it to clients and colleagues who might find it interesting.9. Categorise and tag. If your company blog allows for categorising posts, take advantage of this feature. It will help readers easily find content that interests them. Many blog sites also offer a ‘tagging’ capability, which enables you to attach certain terms relevant to your post. This helps search engines to further identify your post as relevant to keyword searches.10. Syndicate. Make sure your blog is optimised for use with RSS feeds, this allows people to subscribe to your blog.Consider using the skills of a journalist or writer to interview you and write your blog or at leastto sub your copy. If your content is straightforward and easy to read, you’ll engage readers andencourage them to return for more.Nailing the networksThis section will describe the main networks: Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube and Facebook. While thereare many others, these four are sufficient for any professional services firm to engage with.
TWITTERArguably the most important social networking site for any business, Twitter has 182 million usersworldwide.Not simply about discussing what you had for tea, Twitter, for a business, it is about building anaudience for your firm’s content, as well as being another way to network and raise your profile.Twitter can help you to:• Share information – such as blog posts and news• Give your firm a personality• Keep an eye on competitors• Share useful content and images• Build influence and credibility – be seen as an expert• Engage with your clients• Develop leads• NetworkRemember that the life of a tweet is one to three hours– so it is important to maintain your profile and tweet FACT: 81% of people in the financialat least four times a day. sector see Twitter as the mostYou probably won’t have enough news to only tweet important social network forabout what’s happening in your firm – so share other their organisation.relevant news that clients etc would be interested in.Also retweet interesting tweets from clients and potential clients, as well as other professionals youwork with.Who to follow:• People in your industry• Publications in your industry• People located where you are based• Clients and potential clientsThe key on Twitter is to build the number of followers you have – to build your potential audience.You can do this by following people strategically. Follow people in the hope that they will follow youback and don’t be afraid to drop them if they don’t. Remember to keep the number of people youfollow and those who follow you in proportion.NB: You only get 140 characters – but you can add shortened URL links to your blog etc.
What to tweet: • Be proactive. Comment on other tweets and get a dialogue going. Twitter is about engaging and joining in the conversation • Follow the normal ‘rules’ of networking. Don’t jump in there with sales patter. You wouldn’t do that in real life and people won’t be interested • Share information • Retweet interesting articles and tweets from people you want to engage with • Be careful about what you say on Twitter. Twitter is an open network and anyone can read what you’ve written • Take care to use correct grammar and spelling. Give your tweets as much consideration as your marketing material - you are representing your brand. LINKEDIN With 86 million users, LinkedIn has a solid social media presence that you should be engaging with. Use LinkedIn to: • Build connections with people/clients who matter • Develop deeper connections with your target audience • Connect with clients in relevant industry groups • Engage clients and potential clients in conversation • Get to the people who matter to you through your existing LinkedIn contacts • See who has viewed your profile • Be seen as an expert The benefits of using LinkedInFACT: The finance sector has 1. Network activities: Once you ‘connect’ with yourthe 2nd highest concentration of colleagues, clients and potential referral sources, you can keep them up-to-date on what you and your friendsbusinesses on LinkedIn worldwide. are doing through the Network Update feature. You are also able to keep up with what is happening with your contacts and their firms and careers. 2. Recommendations: You can get and give recommendations on LinkedIn. A professional with many client referrals will be viewed in a different light than one with none or only a few. LinkedIn allows you to search for types of companies by geography and the search results will rank firms based on the number of recommendations its professionals have received. 3. Groups: Through LinkedIn, you are able to join trade, alumni, networking, non-profit groups and more. Once a member of a group, you can pose discussion topics or contribute to ongoing discussions. Groups are an effective way to learn about best practices, as well as share thought leadership (a powerful B2B marketing tool). 4. Introductions: If there is a business professional who you have wanted to meet, LinkedIn could possibly make your life easier. You can look up that professional on LinkedIn by doing a people search. Then, find out which of your connections are directly connected with that particular
person. Click the ‘Get Introduced’ tab and LinkedIn guides you through the process of getting introduced by your mutual contact. 5. Improve your Google PageRank: LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you. To do this, create a public profile and select ‘Full View’. Also, instead of using the default URL, customise your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web. For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature. FACEBOOK With Facebook revealing earlier this year that it has 901 million users worldwide, and with that figure expected to rise to over 1 billion by the end of 2012, this pre-eminent social media platform provides a wealth FACT: Facebook accounts for of opportunity for businesses to be exposed to a global audience. approx 26% of referral traffic (according to Shareaholic study) With its constantly evolving functionality, Facebook has developed to provide a unique mechanism for businesses to engage with their audience on a more personal level. Professionalism is still important, but by using Facebook alongside your other marketing, the personality of your firm can shine through. There isn’t much evidence yet of businesses getting meaningful volumes of new business directly from Facebook, but it is an excellent means of distributing your content and getting traffic back to your website - which is where the action is. As we write, Facebook is the third most important source of traffic to The Marketing Eye website. As with all social media and online marketing, nothing is more important than being up to date. Posting a new blog post, company news, a recent press release or photos of your team can promote a better relationship between you and your prospects. GOOGLE+ If you care about SEO, then it’s important to consider Google+. It is suggested that Google gives content on Google+ favourable positioning on its search engine. So, by using Google+, firms may be able to strengthen their search presence. Search engine algorithms now take into consideration individuals’ participation on social networking sites. ‘Likes’,FACT: Google + reached 90 million ‘+1s’, and ‘Pins’ affect the search engine results. Consideringusers by July 2012, there was an this, it makes sense to engage on the one social networking821% growth rate from its launch site that is also a search engine.one year previously.
YOUTUBE Owned by Google, YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google. YouTube makes it easy to upload video and share your content: • Three billion daily views • 48 hours of video uploaded every minute • YouTube videos are indexed by Google and show up in search results • Another opportunity to drive traffic to your website • Videos are an excellent way of sharing content across social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter • You can also put videos on your website and LinkedIn company page and link to them in email newslettersFACT: There are 4 billion views perday on YouTube Video doesn’t have to be expensive and could include: • A ‘talking head’ message giving viewers some information • Profiles about members of your team • Testimonials from clients • Interviews To use YouTube as a firm, it makes sense to create a YouTube Channel – which is like having a website dedicated to your video content. You can brand your profile to include a company logo, background image and corporate colours. Once established, you can encourage subscribers to the channel – thus building ‘followers’ who are interested in your content. SO REMIND ME - WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? You are engaging in social media to build a relevant audience for your content and marketing messages. Matching social media with great content and a ‘sticky’ website that has good landing pages and strong calls to action will create leads. At the end of the day, social media is about communicating frequent, relevant and engaging information in a concise and direct way. An online audience is already out there, waiting to hear from your business and ready to listen. All it takes is a little patience and a lot of posting.
ABOUT THE MARKETING EYEThe Marketing Eye is an experienced marketing company and PR agency that is specialist in professionalservices and business-to-business marketing.Our mission is to help our clients increase the value of their businesses by the application of consistentand effective marketing. We do this by combining online and offline PR with events and direct marketingto help engage with an increasing number of prospects over time.Our services range from strategy and planning, through to the detailed implementation of specificinitiatives. As one of the leading marketing companies and PR agencies in the South East, we have expertsin most areas of marketing, and when we don’t, the chances are we know somebody who is.The Marketing Eye is based in Uckfield, Sussex and is within easy reach of Kent, Surrey and London. Wealso have a representative office in Pennsylvania for clients needing to do business in the US.Convinced by the need for social media in your marketing mix, but think it all soundsa bit much for you to manage?Don’t worry, we have excellent social media management packages available.Contact us for details. firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 1825 765617
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