Even if you aren't the world’s greatest social media expert, you can still serve as your own social media consultant. In other words, you can begin to shape a social media plan that will have an impact on your firm.
The Impact of Social Media Marketing
Social media definitely has a role to play in professional services marketing. Our research on online marketing for professional services shows that high growth firms are more likely than average growth firms to use social media and consider it an important part of their marketing strategy.
A new study on professional services buyers offers even more insights into the marketing strategies of the most successful firms. Use these ideas to help you channel your inner social media marketing consultant:
1. Be in the right place
Whether you are targeting potential clients, influencers or recruits, you have to be where they are. For instance, if they participate in LinkedIn groups, that’s where you need to be. If you don't reach your desired targets you won't enjoy much success. As any self-respecting social media guru will tell you, being in the right place is half the battle.
2. Devote sufficient resources to be successful
Half-done measures are doomed to failure. Many firms delegate social media marketing to the most junior team members. Granted, these younger folks may be more comfortable with social media, but they lack the credentials and knowledge to be taken seriously by your senior executive prospects. Consistency is also very important. Social media is a long-term commitment. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
3. Pursue goals that are achievable
What can social media marketing accomplish for a professional services firm? Here are five ways that firms are finding success:
- Lead Generation
Generating leads online is associated with faster growth and higher profitability. Lead generation can be accomplished through direct interaction with potential clients (e.g., in LinkedIn groups or Twitter conversations) or through referrals from influencers you meet online.
- Brand Building
Your professional services brand is the combination of your reputation and your visibility. Our research on how buyers buy shows that reputation is a leading criterion for the identification and selection of new firms. Social media marketing can improve both the awareness and reputation of your brand.
Already 55% of professional services firms get new hires from online sources. High growth firms are twice as likely to recruit new staff through online channels than average growth firms.
- Lead Nurturing
Trust is an important part of closing the professional services sale. There are two ways to build trust. The first is through traditional face-to-face interaction. The other is through social media interactions and online familiarity.
- Research and Networking
Have a potential prospect you need to check out? Want to find a contact at a certain firm? Need to get in touch with someone who does not return your calls? Social media is an ideal medium for these tasks.
4. Track and Adjust
Social media marketing, no less than any other marketing strategy, needs to be tracked and adjusted based on your real-world results. Two kinds of tracking are of particular importance:
The first is tracking implementation. Did you actually do what you set out to do? Was the plan implemented? This relates directly to point 2 above. Think of it as a way to keep yourself honest.
The second form of tracking is outcome or results tracking. Are you producing the results you anticipated? Are you getting the leads you need? Is your firm’s visibility increasing? Try monitoring traffic referred to your website from social media sources as one method of tracking.
Don’t forget to adjust your campaign. How long should you give it before you change strategy? Our suggestion is to give a strategy one or two business quarters before you conclude that it’s not working.
Social media marketing is not a total solution for professional services firms. But if you want to grow your firm faster, it should be part of your plan. If it’s not, you need a new social media marketing consultant!