Social media has the remarkable ability to make the world feel instantly smaller. With just a few clicks, you can connect with colleagues and catch up on trending topics in your industry. Still, some accounting and financial services firms hesitate to embrace the benefits of social media as a marketing tool.

Why? Some firms may still view social media as a personal tool. Or it may be simple reluctance to change – when business practices evolve, it can be a challenge to move on from traditional styles of marketing that have always worked well for your firm.

But today, social media is no longer optional. Our recent research revealed that 60% of professional services buyers check out providers on social media (see the figure below). In fact, social media has even eclipsed formal references as a source of information. If your clients can’t find you on social media, they’ll be more likely to seek out the competition they can find.

how buyers check out service providers, visible expert research

Social media isn’t just a matter of obligation, however. In fact, it offers five key benefits for accounting and financial services firms:

1. Social Media is Free

Joining the social media platforms most relevant to accounting and finance, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, remains free. While maintaining an active social media presence does require time and effort, the tool itself comes at no cost.

This freebie status not only makes social media accessible for your firm, but also for your audience. It’s easy for potential clients, colleagues, partners, and recruits to interact with your firm.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Business Challenges for Accounting & Financial Services Firms

2. Social Media Increases Visibility

Our latest research shows that, of the firms that made referrals, 48.1% did so based on the referred firm’s expertise and not because of a prior client relationship. These “expertise-based referrals” occur thanks to firms with highly visible expertise or experts that help instill confidence in their services.

referral marketing, research

An active presence on social media is a great way to enhance the visibility of your accounting firm’s expertise. Not only could you increase the amount of expertise-based referrals you receive, but you can also drive more traffic to your firm’s website and generate more leads.

3. Social Media Promotes Your Content

Your social media platforms are the perfect place to share your latest blog posts or promote your upcoming webinar. Industry-specific social media groups, like LinkedIn Groups or Google+ communities, can help connect you with a large, highly targeted audience.

You’ll know your content is getting in front of an audience that has already expressed interest in what your firm has to offer. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in conversation with other industry leaders about the issues of the day, giving your audience a chance to better understand how you think.

4. Social Media Allows Your Firm to Stand Out

Differentiation can be difficult in an industry like accounting. It’s a challenge to set yourself apart from the competition in a unique way that doesn’t alienate your target audience.

Social media offers the perfect place to showcase more of your firm’s personality and culture without compromising your professionalism. You can be more personal with potential clients and take a more relaxed approach to your interactions. While you still want your social media accounts to represent the mission of your firm, your social media personality can give you a chance to stand out from the competition.

5. Social Media Builds Trust

Your activity on social media can help build trust between your audience and your firm. For instance, let’s say you take advantage of your large Twitter following to tweet a feedback request on a specific service offering. This makes it clear that you value your followers’ feedback and cultivates a sense of trust. With social media, firms are able to monitor their reputations more closely, understanding and guiding their perceptions in the marketplace more responsively.

At this point, it’s safe to say that social media isn’t going anywhere. It’s also clear that the most effective accounting and financial services firms are using social media to get ahead. If you’re ready to take advantage of social media’s powerful benefits to forge new connections and drive growth, now is the time to start.

To boost your firm’s social media presence, download The Social Media Guide for Professional Services Firms.

On Twitter+ or LinkedIn? Follow us @HingeMarketing and join us on LinkedIn.