How the impact of active participation can elevate your firm.
Many managing partners and firm leaders are dismissive of social media, either relying on low-level marketing team members to manage it or ignoring it altogether. There is one platform, however, that accounting firms need to be on — and active within — which can make an immense impact on its brand, influence, and growth.
LinkedIn is the one social media platform that focuses on professional relationships. And, it is the only professional platform that has grown and helped active members grow during the pandemic.
All of the Big 4 accounting firms are on LinkedIn, plus thousands of others at every tier in our industry. They post, they gain followers, they engage, they promote their businesses, they attract talent, and they sell their services.
The way in which your firm shows up on LinkedIn can align well with an overarching digital marketing strategy. Firms with an eye to the future are thriving on this platform, and those with ambition should take notice.
Create Your Firm LinkedIn Strategy
First, there are three considerations to creating a strategy for your accounting firm:
1. Competitive Analysis
Because every major firm, and many minor ones, is on LinkedIn, your own strategy merits consideration of their approach in the marketplace. Even if you’re already active on LinkedIn, a review of who’s who and doing what establishes a baseline for best practices.
Consider creating — and update regularly — a spreadsheet tracking each firm you want to watch. How many followers do they have? How many staff are associated with the account? What does their profile say about them? How often do they post? What is unique about the messages they put into the market?
2. Industry Standards
Identify industry standards and guidelines you want to watch. Once you know your key rivals and the industry standards on this platform, it’s time to get tactical. A great LinkedIn strategy needs to have several points of execution. This could be, optimizing the Linkedin page by writing a compelling tagline, enhancing graphics, and assigning out tasks, such as staff reposting or hashtag engagement.
3. Consistent Branding
A formal “Linkedin Branding Standards” document should be created, assessable, and followed. This should guide staff on how to create profiles that enhance the firm’s brand, as well as how to post approved content to ensure layers of exposure directed on how to mix original thought leadership content and cross-posts from industry publications or leaders.
As with most marketing endeavors, buy-in is a high priority and starts from the top.
Engage Leadership and Internal Team
Almost anyone in any industry can follow the steps listed above with some success. However, in accounting, we have a unique challenge and opportunity. LinkedIn is an inherently personal platform. Which means that all of the company page promotions in the world won’t make up for a lack of partner/leadership engagement. People follow people on LinkedIn, and managing partners and firm leaders have to be involved for this to work. Additionally, your firm profile should also be following companies of interest. And your firm profile should also be following firms with which you do business (law firms, insurance companies, etc.), your association and industry profiles, and specific niche-related organizations.
Leadership engagement will make or break an accounting firm’s success on LinkedIn. This may also include letting others engage on leadership’s behalf. Selling this is crucial from the start, because two or three early adopters can create a culture that cascades through your firm.
LinkedIn will serve professionals well, and everyone stands to gain. Convincing your people that this is an area of opportunity is only the first step; you must also arm them with some action items. Here are some tips to start guiding LinkedIn engagement:
- Provide boilerplate company information every employee can put on their profile.
- Provide the firm logo and approved artwork (photography, graphics, and the like) in specs that can be easily uploaded.
- Make it standard protocol for everyone to connect on LinkedIn with each other and with new hires.
- Use the “push” notification to alert employees when a new post to the company page is made and require them to “Like” and to repost, with a tailored message, if pertinent
- Give new hires artwork to post on their profiles announcing their association with the organization. (“So proud to be a tax senior at XXXX, where ‘We add value to your bottom line’”). Include the logo and corporate tag in the artwork. Encourage the individual to promote through their network.
There are some key tactics to distinguishing your firm on LinkedIn. The more active you are internally, the better.
Engage Industry and External Players
Once your culture prioritizes LinkedIn, it’s important to think about how that growing involvement stands to benefit your firm. LinkedIn specifically makes individual profiles private, until you reach a “public person” level, and so it’s important to engage proactively. Outsourcing these tasks to team members can cause your company profile and your team’s profiles to show up more frequently.
Here are some examples of how to max out LinkedIn visibility by engaging with the industry and external parties:
- Be sure everyone on your team is following associations, organizations, and companies like AICPA, Deloitte, PwC, or other relevant firms.
- Have the company page follow hashtags (up to three), then engage with content posted using that hashtag.
- At regular intervals, do outreach to increase connection count.
- Create a process for using LinkedIn tagging to showcase attendance at live or virtual industry events.
- Co-create content with leaders in the industry, to take advantage of their audience, and lend them access to yours.
Often, a LinkedIn strategy requires some initial change, but then will quickly have a compounding effect that positively positions your firm and team as leaders in the field. There are opportunities here that don’t have much to do with traditional marketing. Which further reinforces why LinkedIn continues to be a powerful way to market your firm.
Get an Expert to Help Succeed on LinkedIn: Winding River Consulting
Need a customized LinkedIn strategy to differentiate your firm? Winding River Consulting has a team of marketing experts that has helped firms like yours stand out from the crowd. When you are after time-tested tactics, and long-term results, we can help. Contact us to learn more.