How do you create a social media strategy for a professional service business?
How should you use social media for professional service businesses such as dentists, lawyers, accountants and designers? Do you have any tips to share?
Social Media Marketing in the professional service industry has often been thought of as not exactly professional, or maybe you feel like you’re only doing it because you ‘should’ be. But the advantages of social media are massive so you might be missing opportunities if you’re not, and there are many strategies and tools to help you along the way.
Everyone has an idea on the best strategy but a successful social media marketing strategy put very simply is a summary of everything you plan to do and hope to achieve on your social media. It guides your actions and lets you know whether you're succeeding or failing. Every post, reply, like, and comment should have a purpose. Which leads us to exactly where you should start, by setting goals. Below are the simplified steps for a successful social marketing strategy.
- Set Goals!
Like any marketing campaign determining your goals is an incredibly important first step. Make them SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound). For example: Increase Brand Awareness by increasing Facebook likes by 100 by March 1st. Then break that down to how many new likes you need per week or even each day to achieve your goal.
To figure out how to achieve your SMART goals. Write down the detailed steps to achieve them. For example: Create a Facebook Page Likes Campaign for February targeting your specific audience).
Once you have your detailed plan you need to put it into practice and hold yourself accountable to ensuring it gets done.
This is incredibly important to work out where you are going right (and where you need to improve). If you get into the habit of doing it within the first week of every month you can compare statistics easily and see how your action steps in the implementation process are performing.
Social media and technology are 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it but you do not have to let it run your life! My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well. You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths. For example, Thought Leadership is a great way to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts.
Don’t let social media drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through. Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first. Start small and build as you go. For me I started speaking at local events and then submitted proposals to speak at industry conferences and trade shows nationally and eventually global events too. Same advice goes for writing start with small publications then move up the food chain to reach bigger audiences.
Key people need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found too. It adds credibly and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with know people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building relationships in the digital economy. You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For many professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters the most.
Haha, great question, and not an easy answer...
I mean, without knowing the type of service, the target audience(s) and their persona, behaviours it is hard to say what is best for your business...
As a rule of thumb, Facebook, Linkedin, perhaps Youtube, possible Instagram, in terms of platforms. When it comes to content, ensure you have a 1-in-3 or 2-in-5 mix of non-commercial posts versus commercial posts. And, to develop these across 3 - 5 content pillars/topics. Otherwise, all your posts will be the same or be ad-hoc and if they are all commercially focused rather than on providing value to your audience, people will get bored and you lose followers.
Social media is much like a personal conversation. Imagine you are talking with two or three people at once. And they ask questions or are simply happy to listen to what you have got to say... but all you say is how great your product is and that they should buy it... right, they will not want to listen for long... Then, if you were to talk about the background of why your product solves the recurring problems that people like them are having and how research shows just how important this is, perhaps share how you were featured talking about this in the media, they will want to listen and probably buy your product too...
Social media is pretty much like that... only on steroids, which means it can work more powerfully for you as much as against you... so best, get some advice and feedback on your social media messaging before you scream only brand and 'buy now' messages in every post. Happy to answer any questions you may have... firstname.lastname@example.org =)
Professional Services is an interesting area undergoing a lot of disruption right now and as more professional services move online to provide their services the social media marketing strategy is becoming more and more important, namely because:
1) Your competitors are doing it
2) With e-services your growth potential is a lot bigger as you can work with anyone who speaks your language anywhere in the world (and if you speak two languages or more - even better!)
The key is to invest in creating leads that are more likely to become prospects (or "qualified leads") so that you spend your time on the phone (or a video call) with people who are likely to convert (which at the end of the day is the CRUCIAL piece).
Ok so - in terms of strategy, what we're trying to do with a B2B social media marketing strategy is two things 1) Go WIDE and 2) Go DEEP.
Go WIDE is about reaching as much of the entire market as possible and we use behavioural cues and other profile-led data to identify whether or not we think an individual is a likely target.
The social media platform that is the best at doing this is Facebook - HOWEVER - for Professional Services LinkedIn should not be overlooked and may actually be the most important platform for driving customer acquisition because their professional information is key in identifying whether or not they are a likely target (something that might not be as kept up to date on Facebook).
Sales Navigator on LinkedIn is AWESOME for this and there's a lot of tools to help you automate messaging (just don't do it in an annoying way!)
Even then, the type of professional service needs to be thought about - and where in the world you're marketing to. In the US, Facebook Advertising for professional services may be important, but in Australia, where I'm based, LinkedIn may be the priority.
The other important aspect - going deep - is about developing an online-to-offline marketing-to-sales strategy.
So how do you get someone to go from seeing an advertisement or a direct message to engaging with you further - you need to map out how they get from a) stranger to b) paying customer and we're looking for identifiable triggers or "signals" to cue the appropriate response.
Stranger that may be in market (cue initial reach message - talk about the PROBLEM)
-> Signal = message is relevant (cue lead capture)
-> Signal = filled in lead form (cue nurture strategy eg. webinar, enquiry form, email, video, eBook etc.)
- > Signal = Engaged with content = identified prospect (cue book a call)
If you'd like to find out more about this connect with me on LinkedIn with a message saying "Social Media Marketing Savvy SME" so I know what it's regarding ;) here's my profile link:
CEO & Founder, The Change Makers - Changing the way you do business
Lauren Kress is the CEO of The Change Makers and one of the few scientists and innovators of the millennial generation whose knowledge of investment-led growth is transforming decision-making in the business world.
Before you even think about strategy of any kind, you need to establish:
 Who is your target market?
 Who is your ideal client/customer?
 What is their pain point/problem that you solve for them?
 Where do they hang out on social media?
Once you have done that, you now know who you are targetting and where they hang out, so the strategy part becomes much easier. If they are consumers, Facebook is most likely where they hang out. If they are professionals, most likely LinkedIn. But check where your 'suspects' hang out, it may differ.
Bear in mind that your social media strategy is not to sell to them, but to get the attention of your target market and ideal customers, give them a chance to get to know you, like you, and trust you.
Traditionally, we’ve found Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to be great platforms to connect with professional service based business audiences. Facebook is great for engaging with community as well as sharing team culture like photos and brand messaging. LinkedIn and Twitter are perfect channels for sharing newsworthy and information based content.
But as always, we recommend creating a tailored marketing strategy to support each individual business objective and audience, prior to diving into multiple marketing channels. There is no cookie cutter answer for the right social strategy, so it’s imperative to have an understanding of your audience and business objectives, prior to launching any platforms.
And remember: keep it simple!