Don’t let the memes, cat videos and 140 character limits confuse you. Social media is a powerful tool for businesses.

Big brands have been quick to capitalize on the social media craze. Unfortunately, professional service providers have been slow to catch up. And several have stumbled along the way.

There are a thousand ways to approach social media and make it work for you. Here are 5 common social media fails that every professional services firm must avoid:

1. Not using social media to its full potential. Most firms think social media has one, maybe two uses. Rarely do they realize the full potential of the different social outlets.

If used properly, your firm can harness that potential to address multiple challenges:

  • Public relations. Share news about newly hired talent, mergers, acquisitions and high-profile projects.
  • Recruiting. Increase the visibility of job openings and court top talent .
  • Content marketing. Establish your visible expertise by promoting the content you create and that of others that your target audience will find useful.
  • Social listening. Identify trends in the marketplace and eavesdrop on what your audience is saying about you by following different hashtags. (I’ll touch on hashtags later.)
  • Social selling. Build relationships with prospective clients, leverage your employees’ networks, and educate your audience through relevant content.
  • Brand engagement. Start a conversation with your audience and followers. People like to be recognized and engage on social media.
  • Customer service. Address problems quickly and directly. Even if it’s just stating that you recognize a problem and are working to solve it, just knowing your firm recognizes a problem can satisfy the client.

2. Inconsistent activity. Social media activity from professional service providers is often sporadic and inconsistent. If you are not posting regularly, you might as well not post at all.

Consider your firm’s investment in social media as a marathon rather than a sprint. So, pace yourself.  Here’s an example of the absolute minimum a professional services firm should post from their corporate account:

  • Twitter: 3–5 times/day
  • LinkedIn: 3–5 times/week
  • Facebook: 3–5 times/ week
  • Instagram: 3–5 times/week

There are plenty of tools available to schedule posts and curate relevant content. The key to success is to work smarter, not harder.

3. Incomplete profiles. Professional services firms are renowned for having social media sites with nonexistent or unorganized profile descriptions, poor quality photography, and outdated logos. Just showing up and creating a company profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ isn’t good enough.

Be sure the following elements are complete and consistent across your company’s social media profile:

  • A search-friendly description of your firm and its position in the marketplace
  • High-quality or professional photography and correctly sized images for background photos, headshots, and profile pictures.
  • Links to your firm’s website, blog, or other relevant online resources.
  • A color theme that sets your firm apart from others in your industry.
  • A professionally designed logo.

4. Underutilization of hashtags. Hashtags are a way for your audience to search, sort and keep tabs on relevant content. The tricky part is finding the right hashtags to use.

To illustrate the power of hashtags, I present two tweets that I tested. One with the #survey and #mrx tags and one without. You’ll notice the second tweet has a higher level of engagement than the first.

The #mrx is a well-known and often-used tag in the market research community. The #survey tag had proven valuable in an earlier engagement.

It may be Greek to you, but Hashtags can help you reach a larger, relevant audience. There are some great tools, like Keyhole and Hashtagify, that can help you find the right hashtags.

5. Not keeping up with industry trends. With the rapid pace of connections on social media, if you don’t keep up, you are left behind. Paradoxically, the pace of life makes it harder to keep up with critical industry trends.

To keep up with industry trends, make lists, bookmark other content outlets, and use social search. This “social listening” can help identify how your firm can solve new, evolving challenges in the marketplace.

Did I miss anything?  Do you have anything more to add to the list?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Additional Resources

How Hinge Can Help

Social media marketing should be a core component of your firm’s overall strategy. Hinge’s Visible Firm℠ is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. Based on 8 years of research into high-growth firms, this program gives firms like yours the practical tools and approach used by industry leaders.


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