Social media has become an important tool for companies of all types to improve their customer interactions. Savvy companies not only monitor and respond to social media posts about their products or services, they also use these channels to proactively engage with their customers.
We typically do not see tweets from in-house counsel complaining about a lawyer or law firm, or business owners airing grievances about their outside accounting firms. The point is that professional services clients are unlikely to use social media to address dissatisfaction in the way other more consumer-oriented companies do. But are professional service providers missing client care opportunities by not engaging clients proactively in ways that demonstrate the value of those business professionals?
The Business of Interaction
By its very nature, providing professional services is a social activity. To be effective, lawyers and accountants regularly interact with clients, colleagues, administrators, government entities and other professionals. Yet, social media engagement among professional services companies remains primarily the responsibility of the marketing staff who tweet company news or post professional-authored articles on the firm’s LinkedIn company page.
One can visit nearly any accounting or law firm website and find a brand promise of excellent client service, along with language about the value clients receive when working with the firm. But how does a professional service provider demonstrate that excellence and value to prospective clients? Strategic social media engagement can help.
Select the Right Social Media Channel
There are many popular social media platforms, and each has its unique strengths. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and YouTube, which is owned by Google, are visual platforms and might work well for a construction lawyer who wants to post photos or videos of clients’ projects. Both law firms and accounting firms can use these visual-based social platforms to enhance recruitment efforts by conveying company culture through firm event pictures and behind-the-scenes images.
Of course, there is also LinkedIn, which is hands-down the most-popular social media platform for professional networking. Its publishing platform is an excellent option for professionals looking to distribute thought leadership material widely and easily.
Identify Your Audience
What can you do to make sure your social media posts are seen by your clients and target audiences? Use the platform’s search features or employ social media management tools to identify the groups and influencers your clients follow on LinkedIn. Doing so is straightforward, since this information is readily available on a person’s profile. Identifying this information on Twitter can be accomplished with tools such as Twiangulate, which allows you to search for people who use certain keywords in their posts.
Narrow Your Focus
When working to build your reputation as someone who provides additional value beyond your core service offering (in other words, the client care component of client service), it is important to focus on one or two areas of experience or industries. Become known as a thought leader in your niche, not someone who mixes posts about their kids’ birthdays with insights about a new legal development.
Excellent client care requires proactive communication. Social media is a platform for easily conveying your experience and industry knowledge to a broad base of clients, prospective clients and referral sources. Don’t just react to social comments. Put out your own valuable posts — not promotional posts, but good information that has value for your client community. For example, you might post short how-to videos to your firm’s site or on YouTube that provide answers to frequently asked questions about your particular area of service or experience.
Social Care Is Marketing
Social care is more than client service — it’s marketing. And it’s inexpensive compared to other marketing strategies. In fact, a Forbes article declared that “social customer care is the new marketing.”
One of your best business development assets is clients who contribute to your reputation and help you increase your audience by engaging with you and sharing information about you and your services — so engage with them. Give them insights and information worth sharing. Respond to their comments and questions. Make the conversations public and show the world that you are the professional with whom they should do business.
Have questions? Need a social strategy? Contact Terry M. Isner at firstname.lastname@example.org.