The habit-wearing crowd isn’t normally the first group you think of when you think social media, but one convent’s success with the tool illustrates the same strategies that will work for your accounting firm.
When the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec faced shrinking numbers of new members and a lack of community awareness, they did exactly what we tell accounting firms to do: they got serious about social media. Their approach followed all the steps that lead accounting firms to greater success, resulting in more attention and support, and eventually more young women joining the convent. It’s strange to think about if you have a background in Catholic school, where stiff rulers and mandatory Mass is more the norm, or even if you don’t. Most of us maintain a concept of nuns and nunneries that distinctly lacks a Facebook angle, but it worked for them. Today the order has the reputation and the new recruits it needs to thrive in the modern world. So what did they do that your accounting firm should do when you approach social media?
Find your audience where it lives. The Sisters needed to make themselves visible to young women and the greater Quebec community, so they focused on Facebook and their website. Facebook cuts a broad swath, but your target audience may be more concentrated on Pinterest (women), YouTube (generation-Y), LinkedIn (working professionals), Twitter (almost everyone), Google+ (techies) or any number of other platforms. If you start sharing good content through the channels that harbor your ideal potential audience, you’re sure to make some connections that will pay off in the form of expanded networks and new clients.
Allot the resources you’ll need to do the job right. Launching a great website and putting together brilliant marketing plan costs money. Like the Sisters, you can create compelling content for nothing more than your time and attention, but these have real value as well. Expect to commit funds and manpower to social media marketing, especially at first, because there’s no point in doing a cut-rate job on something that offers such huge rewards if done well.
Keep a consistent look. Pay attention to creating the look that’s recognizable every place your audience sees your name. Your website should have an appearance that’s similar to your social media pages, and all should prominently display the firm logo. This helps maintain your brand identity and lets viewers know you’re organized and serious about your business. The nuns did it, and so should your firm.
Stretch yourself. If you’re totally removed from the social media world, take confidence knowing that you can handle it like the Sisters did. If you’re online but feel uncomfortable handling it for your business or going beyond a basic Facebook page to see the grandkids’ pictures, learn from the nuns’ example and push past your zone of comfort. Social media wasn’t Sister Elaine Lachance’s first thought to help her convent either, but she went out on a limb and brought the convent into the online world, enhancing their fame and fortune in the process. Young women interested in the monastic life are aware of their options at the convent, and the community learns what’s going on in their midst by Sister Elaine’s blog. In it, she talks about the various missions and service projects, the challenges faced by those who choose this lifestyle and even the journey into social media. It allows her to communicate with all the people who aren’t likely to run into her or the other nuns in their daily lives, and thus to build support.
There are marketing lessons to be learned every day and in surprising places, but I bet this is your first time being schooled by a bunch of nuns – at least in recent years. Don’t worry about the unexpected source; just follow the models of successful social media marketers wherever you may find them.