5 Tips for Dominating Social Media As A Professional Services Firm
Sometimes it can feel as though businesses that produce a physical product have an advantage on social media. There are countless opportunities to show off a product, from breaking down the production process to those all-important photos or videos of it in the hands of customers, or even better, influencers.
But what if your ‘product’ is in fact a rather unphotogenic professional service, such as accounting? Or law? Or maybe your organisation provides global trade finance solutions for banks and corporations? Well, it may be easier than you think, there is a lot we can learn from product-driven businesses when it comes to developing an effective social media strategy.
I’m Adam, the newest addition to the SEO team. My academic background is in marketing (BA) and psychology (MSc), with a lot of experience working in hospitality. This combination has really fostered a love of working closely with people to bring a plan to life.
A keen photographer, I’m always on the lookout for creative ways to expand the digital reach of the brands we work with, whether through imaginative PR strategies or bold social campaigns.
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1. Firstly, define your audience
Not all social media accounts need to reach millions, or even thousands, of people. Having a small but dedicated base of followers who actively consume your content and interact with your business because they are interested in what you do is more valuable than 100,000 completely disinterested followers.
So, who are you going to be producing content for?
These should be the people you would like to one day become your customers, or maybe they already are but who may return. In many ways, your social media presence should act as a portfolio for your business, made with the intention of selling what your service can achieve for buyers who don’t yet need your service, but when they do, will think of you (hopefully).
Once you have a good idea who you are targeting, ask yourself, where do these people spend most of their social media time? Instagram? Facebook? LinkedIn? You don’t need to know precise demographic data for each, at first it’s ok to focus on just one.
Do you think your content will photograph nicely? Instagram. Want to make guides for professionals in a certain industry? LinkedIn. Perhaps you want to target a younger demographic? TikTok.
2. What are the benefits of your service?
Something savvy marketers have understood for a while now is the importance of connecting what you’re selling, with a story or feeling that consumers can more easily relate to, ‘sell the sizzle, not the steak’ as the old saying goes.
The ‘sizzle’ is everything that accompanies the product or service you’re providing, for example, it’s difficult to make EU trade mark application assistance sound that sexy (and trust me, I’ve tried), but the assurance that your business can trade safely across borders, protecting your family’s income and freeing up time to focus your efforts on other urgent matters in your company? Now that’s a much easier sell.
What is your organisation’s ‘sizzle’? Put that at the forefront of your social media messaging and come up with creative ways to communicate it to your audience.
Alright, but how exactly?
3. Put people first
When you don’t have a product to showcase, you’re in the business of solving peoples problems, and these people are key to your social strategy. A lesson here can be learned from one of the largest sportswear corporations on the planet, and a total master of marketing a message online, Nike. One look at any of their social media platforms and we see one thing, people. Sure, they’re probably wearing Nike clothing, but that isn’t the focus of each post, in fact, one of the greatest ads they’ve ever produced doesn’t feature a single piece of branded Nike clothing or even a famous athlete, it’s all about the message, the message that greatness is within every athlete.
The people they use in their marketing serve as a catalyst for telling a story or conveying a strong emotional message, usually of determination, persistence and athletic achievement, possibly against the odds, no matter how significant that achievement may be.
So as a service provider, who are the people at the core of what you do? This could be your customers. Tell their stories. This is something Google does quite well when it comes to advertising local search features, telling the stories of independent local businesses, like the family-owned bakery that feels like it could be just down the street from you, and how they saw sales increase by hundreds of percent because they’ve adopted the latest features.
Maybe your clients don’t wish to be plastered over your social media, ok, well how about your staff, or founder, or partner organisations? They each play their own unique part in the delivery of your service and will to some degree exemplify your message.
4. You’re in the business of expertise, so show it off!
Social media requires content, and a lot of it. Want the algorithm to be in your favour? Well, I hope you’re posting daily, and that includes stories, reels and any number of the plethora of features each platform decides to roll out.
And maybe you don’t quite have the resources of a company like Nike, or a well of people to exploit, sorry, I mean celebrate, for daily inspiring posts, what then? Thankfully this is where professional services businesses can really shine.
You’re in business because you have expertise in a topic that most do not, so it’s time to show that off. This can take many forms, especially with the help of a graphic designer or somebody who knows how to film and edit simple videos, your knowledge can really come to life and resonate with an audience. An Instagram carousel on copywriting best practices perhaps? Or a Tiktok explanation video on what to do when stopped by the police?
There are many such examples of knowledge being shared in a creative manner that finds an audience, this can work wonders for your online presence, for example:
This is the Instagram account of @thechrisdo, a designer who has built a brand across multiple social media channels that aims to educate creative professionals, focusing largely on design and the business of running an agency. At 741,000 followers on Instagram and 1.82m subscribers on YouTube, he is definitive proof that a service business can reach large audiences.
Akhmed Yakoob is the CEO of Maurice Andrews Solicitors, a criminal defence specialist who has gained a following on TikTok of almost 23,000 followers, and a following on Instagram of over 36,000, posting short videos explaining aspects of his job as a criminal defence solicitor, and how he approaches serious cases where his clients may be faced with a murder charge. These short-form videos are well suited to both platforms, they are short enough to keep people’s attention, fit within the time constraints, and in a savvy marketing move, he always signs off with a catchphrase “Always remember, there’s a defence for every offence”.
5. It’s called social media for a reason
If you consider your website to be your home on the internet, then social media is being down the pub with your mates. It’s a place to have conversations with those who matter, be funny, show off and talk about what’s happening in the world. The key for any brand on social media is the ability to adapt quickly to trends, or feedback. Marketing campaigns, expertly crafted months in advance can work well across platforms, but if the comments below from customers requiring assistance or making a complaint go ignored, it’s not the win you think it is.
Choose your platform, and adapt to it
Large companies have dedicated social media teams that handle the various aspects of their online persona, and it is important for any business to truly understand the platform they are using, simply automating the reposting of content across several sites at the same time and leaving it at that is sub-optimal at best. Learn the intricacies of each website, Twitter is short-form, a little chaotic and rewards frequent interactions and replies, Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing app, video is as, if not more, important with the prominence of stories and reels, not to mention recent changes that saw Instagram lean into the e-commerce potential of its site. Facebook’s audience is ageing, but it facilitates longer-form discussion and links to off-site content quite nicely.
There is so much more to discuss when it comes to brand voice on social media, so we’ll make that a post for the future, for now, I would recommend reading this piece by Fall Guys community manager Oliver Hindle, on how he grew their Twitter presence to over 1 million followers in under a month and created an iconic Twitter account in the process.
Tl;dr? Ok, to conclude
Define your audience and make content for their preferred platform
Create a strong message that resonates with people
Educate – You have knowledge very few others do. Find a way to share it.
Focus on people – tell stories people can relate to
Understand your chosen platform, post natively and be “Of the platform, not just on it”
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