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May 06, 2010
How To

Be Helpful, Attract Prospects: 6 Social Marketing Tactics

SUMMARY: Still confused about what to do in social media? Try thinking about what your prospects need help with, and then show them how you can be the helper they’re seeking.

Check out these six social marketing tactics used by a professional services firm to show how helpful, responsive and accessible they can be. Includes tips on monitoring Twitter conversations, subscribing to LinkedIn Answers, and keeping tabs on journalists to get lots of free media mentions.
Eric Majchrzak, Marketing Manager, Freed Maxick & Battaglia, CP, knows that customer service can make or break a professional services firm. He says that client dissatisfaction with how they're treated by a firm is one of the top two reasons businesses look for a new CPA.

So when social media emerged as a new communications channel, Majchrzak and his team saw a chance to highlight their firm’s helpfulness, responsiveness, and accessibility -- and generate leads in the process.

"Social media makes our marketing intrinsically more helpful to prospects -- it’s a two-way dialogue," says Majchrzak. "That dialogue helps, too, in positioning our firm and reinforcing our value. We’re accessible 24-7, through live chat, LinkedIn, Twitter...hey, we’re worth the bucks."

They began their social marketing efforts in 2005 with LinkedIn, blogs, and Wikipedia, then added Facebook in 2009 and Twitter in 2010. Along the way, this social media exposure helped increase website visits 35%-40% each year, and helped generate millions of dollars in new revenue since 2004.

The goal of being helpful guides the team’s social media outreach, and is one of the reasons the efforts helped generate online leads. Here are six specific tactics they use to ensure they’re helping their prospects:

Tactic #1. Share helpful tools and other high-value resources on social networks

The team strives to provide high-value content within its tweets, LinkedIn updates or Facebook wall posts. This strategy often means developing tools and resources beyond the standard whitepaper or link to a media article (though those help, too.)

For example, content shared through social media has included:
o Location-based tax-credit locator
o R&D tax credit eligibility test
o Link to a special "Recession Center" area of the firm’s website
o Pension-plan calculator

Tactic #2. Monitor Twitter for keywords

The team regularly engages Twitter users who have questions on taxes or other accounting issues, thanks to what Majchrzak calls their "listening posts."

They set up a series of key phrases to search on Twitter that indicate a user who needs help, has a question, or is looking for CPA services. Phrases include:
o Looking for a CPA/Accountant
o Looking to interview/talk to a CPA
o Recommend CPA
o Recommend health care consultant
o Forensic accountant

Then, they receive RSS updates from Twitter whenever there’s a tweet that contains these phrases. At this point, Majchrzak or another team member will personally respond to the user with an answer, advice, or a helpful link.

Tactic #3. Subscribe to LinkedIn Answers

The team set up another RSS feed from LinkedIn Answers, the Q&A feature that lets members of that network post or respond to questions on specific business topics.

They monitor questions related to accounting and tax topics, such as:
o Corporate taxes
o Risk management
o Venture capital and private equity
o Mergers and acquisitions

"We eyeball those categories several times a day, and when we find a relevant question we’ll offer up a whitepaper, a tool or just make a recommendation."

Tactic #4. Friend and follow journalists

Social media also provides a way for the team to connect with journalists, share their expertise, and generate valuable media coverage to help establish their thought leadership.

They’ve sought out and followed, friended, or otherwise connected to members of local media (print, radio and television) and industry trade publications. Majchrzak says those journalists are increasingly turning to their social networks with requests for sources, story ideas and subject matter expertise -- and their team is ready to help when a request goes out.

He estimates that 75%-80% of the company’s media mentions now come from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tactic #5. Give site visitors multiple ways to contact you

The goal of this social media activity is to generate visits to the firm’s website and leads for their practice. That means ensuring visitors who land on the website from a tweet, Facebook post, or LinkedIn answer have multiple ways to contact the firm.

Majchrzak makes sure the site features the firm’s:
o 800-number
o Fax number
o Email address
o Mailing address
o Links to all social profiles

They also recently added a live website chat feature for website visitors.

"Live chat has done wonders in terms of the perception of us as being progressive and helpful."

Tactic #6. Adopt a 24-hour rule for responses

If you’re trying to be helpful, you also have to be prompt. The firm’s rule: Anytime a prospect or customer reaches out through social media, someone from the team must respond within 24 hours.

If one of the CPAs gets a message on their personal LinkedIn or Facebook accounts and is too busy to respond within a day, they are instructed to pass the contact on to a member of Majchrzak’s team for follow-up.

"You can’t use these tools and claim you’re responsive if you don’t get back to people," says Majchrzak.

Useful links related to this article

Members Library -- How to use Social Media and Email for Prospecting: 8 Essentials

Members Library -- Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation: 6 Lessons

Members Library -- Generate Leads with Social Media Strategy: 6 Steps to Fill Up Sales Funnel

Freed Maxick’s Twitter page

Freed Maxick’s LinkedIn profile

Freed Maxick’s Facebook page

Freed Maxick & Battaglia, CP


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