As I was driving to pick up my son the other day, Fresh Air was playing on the car radio. Terry Gross was interviewing Tim Wu and they were talking about the perils of targeted advertising, but I wasn’t really listening, lost in my own thoughts. Suddenly, a single sentence came into my auditory focus that made me freeze: Tim said something like, “The Holy Grail of advertising has always been to create ads that people actually want to see.”
It wasn’t exactly a revelation; I’d heard the line before. But this time it clicked with what I’d been thinking about, which was social media for a client, and I realized that statement, in a nutshell, is what makes social media such a magnificent marketing tool. When we write blog articles, tweets and Facebook posts, we are offering content that educates and illuminates, assuming we’ve posted wisely. Meeting that standard involves doing a good job of gauging our audience and their interests as well as crafting the content for easy accessibility and a pleasant reading experience. If we succeed in this endeavor, then we gain followers who choose to spend their valuable time reading our social media posts – our advertisements – because they want to.
But why do I call this shared content our advertisements? Because with each tweet, post and article, we are advertising not just our views, but our knowledge…our talent…our ability for critical thinking and effective communication…our value as professionals. Every single thing your accounting firm does on social media is, if it’s done well, an advertisement that people want to see.
- People want to see you as an expert. With every blog post written, every insight offered, every news tidbit interpreted, you’re creating and confirming their belief that you possess knowledge they do not. In a dynamic world with questions abounding on every side, it’s reassuring to know that somebody, somewhere has the answers.
- People want to see you as a resource. Who can you turn to when you don’t know what to do? How should you handle this new challenge? If you’re the expert with the answers, it’s you! When you answer questions, offer information and share guidance, you’re presenting yourself and your firm as someone to turn to in times of uncertainty.
- People want to see you as a friend. Friends are people you can trust, enjoy and have fun with. Social media allows you to share your silly side as well as your serious one, and demonstrate that you’re kind and reasonable in every context. You may not be able to show off your goofy hat, golfing prowess or adorable puppy in the office, but you can occasionally do so on your social media platforms.
- People want to see you as a reliable presence. Will every post and every article be personally valuable to all your contacts? Of course not. But the fact that you show up regularly with something to share lends them confidence that when business trends or new legislation may affect them you’ll be there with the support they need.
Social media offers you the opportunity to advertise all the right things about yourself to a willing audience who actually wants to see what you’re advertising.