After working hard to build up a presence on social media for your accounting firm, it can be tough to realize you’ve lost a few followers. What did you do? Why don’t they like you any more? According to a new survey of social media users, chances are good that you just bugged them by posting about promotions too often, clogging up their newsfeeds to an annoying degree.
The information comes from research conducted by Survata for Sprout Social in July 2016, when the company surveyed over a thousand users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Based on their responses, here’s some wonderful news for accounting firms that hope to build relationships with potential clients on these platforms:
“86% of social media users want to and do follow brands on social,” according to Sprout Social. The company then goes on to say, “But when they do, they’re most often looking for relevant content, not another cringe-worthy post from an out of touch company.”
That last statement refers to other insight gleaned from the survey, which includes several bits of interesting and even semi-contradictory data. First, something encouraging:
- The number one reason (74% of responses listed this choice) people choose to follow a brand on social media is because they are interested in their products or services. That gives you a great opportunity to add followers and begin building a relationship through relevant content that delivers the useful information they are seeking.
And now, for the constructive criticism. When survey participants were asked what social media behavior they find annoying:
- 58% of respondents admitted to being annoyed by seeing too many promotions by the brands they follow.
- 38% said it was annoying to see brands using slang and jargon.
- 35% were annoyed by a perceived lack of personality in the brand’s social media presence.
- 32% reported being annoyed when brands attempt, unsuccessfully, to be funny.
- 25% find it annoying to message a brand using social media with no response.
While all those annoyances seem reasonable when examined individually, taken together, they pose something of a challenge to accounting firms that just want to get along. How many of us can simultaneously exhibit our buoyant individual flair while assiduously avoiding all jargon and slang, and ensuring that every attempt at humor goes over to each person exposed to it? None, of course, and you shouldn’t let this set of complaints inhibit you too much.
What you can and should do is:
- Be yourself, complete with (possibly lame) jokes when Thalia rises within. Personality is personal, obviously, so your firm’s style won’t be a match for every single contact. Be tasteful, be confident and be you. The people who find that really annoying probably aren’t perfectly suited to your firm anyway.
- Eschew trendy slang that isn’t what you’d normally use. If you use a term comfortably and regularly, your clients probably do too. If you don’t, it’s best avoided on social media. Otherwise you risk appearing to try too hard and, as a result, falling flat on your face. Naturally, the latitude in this rule calls for good judgment. The fact that you and your coworkers customarily refer to an unfortunate acquaintance as “Douchenozzle” does not render the sobriquet appropriate for use in a public business context.
- Pay attention to your social media accounts, and respond to comments and questions quickly. It’s never good for a client or potential client to feel ignored after reaching out. Make the effort to see that this doesn’t happen on social media just as you labor to prevent it from occurring via phone or email.
- Balance your social media communications carefully to provide a suitable mix of usable information, playful banter and firm promotion. The largest component of your content, by far, should be news and insight that is relevant and valuable to your followers. Give them what they need to be well informed about the issues on which you can provide expertise, along with a smattering of pure amusement and self-promotion.
The survey results are helpful and as mature human beings, I’m sure you can handle any slight discomfort from recognizing your firm in some of the complaints. Still, you’d be forgiven for wondering just when the real survey will be released – you know, the one where accounting firms get to share what behavior they find most annoying in their clients!