If you’re reading this, it’s not too late
Your professional services business should be open “virtually” as soon as (or sooner than) you are open physically.
If you aren’t already doing business virtually, you may already be behind the eight-ball. It’s a near certainty that your competition has also established a respectable social media presence by now. While you may not be able to leapfrog their follower count or social media reach right away, what you can do is use your channels more effectively. First, you’ve got to start. But where?
In this article, I’ll show you the role social media plays in marketing your professional services business.
Choosing a social media platform for marketing your professional services
Each social media channel has its own personality. Often, choosing the right social media channel for your business is the most important piece of the puzzle. In the professional services industry, LinkedIn is a popular hub of social media activity. LinkedIn provides a professional networking atmosphere and serves B2B services well, as the interactions steer more professional than casual.
As you can see below, Netflix uses LinkedIn to open a discussion about employee relations, then used Twitter and Facebook to present more consumer-driven information related to its end-product.
Refer to this quick guide below to decide which channels suit your business best.
- Facebook – You’ll be competing for attention with friends and family, news stories and viral media, and other advertisers. It serves products and services with easy purchase decisions well.
- LinkedIn – Bring your professional acumen here. This is the network to share your expertise, impress your connections, and drive B2B interactions.
- Instagram – It’s a highly visual platform and it’s not for every business, as the audience skews heavily to under 35. Artists, clothing brands, and design-based businesses thrive here.
- Twitter – Think of it as a stream of consciousness application. Twitter posts aren’t active very long but can be great for promotions and quickly disseminating information.
- Pinterest – A virtual vision board for design-related content. This platform is a great starting point for creatives looking to generate awareness.
- YouTube – The popular video platform allows your firm to create an online personality and present educational content that can be found using keywords.
There is a reason we have so many channels to decide from. They have all done a very good job of identifying and catering to their target markets. For some of them, that’s you.
Identify where you think your customers will virtually hang out and use that platform to build the foundation for your social media presence.
Speak to someone, not everyone: Targeting your message to the right audience
Social media marketing is a term that couldn’t be found in the lexicon until recently, but has quickly become one of the most debated topics of our time. Its power seems yet to be truly unearthed, which gives many consumers pause.
Privacy concerns are always atop the minds of end-users and responsible companies alike. However, there is a responsible and effective way to reach your audience using social media marketing for professional services.
You’ve probably often wondered, “How does [insert social media network] know so much about me?”
The businesses for whom these ads are run are looking to sell you a service, have you watch a video, or join their online community. All of these interactions serve different, but equally important roles in your sales strategy. There are essentially two ways that you can be targeted with advertisements on social media related to your interests.
- Social media data mining is the process of obtaining data from user-generated content on social media sites and mobile apps in order to extract patterns, form conclusions about users, and act upon the information – often for the purpose of advertising to users.
- Demographic targeting uses information about a group of people to segment the audience based on their shared traits and then target them with a specific campaign.
Most professional service businesses use demographic targeting to narrow their audience and maximize the impact of their social media marketing.
For example, a mid-size accounting firm using LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads can target small business owners in their area. Using specific industry targets, you can filter down even further. Perhaps this accounting firm specializes in accounting for medical practices. Targeted audiences allow you to get specific down to industry, position, location, company size, and more.
LinkedIn and other social networks also offer tags that can be placed in your website’s code to send targeted ads to people who have already visited your site, this is called social media retargeting. Solutions for Growth is a marketing firm that can help you to set your website up to be able to retarget visitors on social media.
You can see how, although not directly targeted, someone who fits these traits may feel like they are being directly targeted by this particular advertisement.
Now that we’ve got your attention, social media is a lead-generation tool, not necessarily a conversion tool
One thing we know social media is not, in most cases, is a conversion tool, meaning you won’t likely close a sale on social media. Social media marketing is a vital cog in every marketing machine. It serves two very important functions: lead generation and lead nurturing.
Social media channels provide lead generation with targeted advertising, organic (non-paid) traffic via shares and interaction, and word-of-mouth. Thereafter, they provide a great tool to keep your business top-of-mind with your target audience while they either shop around or wait for the right time to make their decision.
However, when it comes time to make the appointment or complete the online checkout, they won’t be doing that on social media. As such, tools like LinkedIn and Facebook should be used to drive traffic to where it converts, like your website or your brick-and-mortar location.
But is my social media marketing working?
Some say it is impossible to calculate the return on investment of any social media campaign. Certain businesses invest plenty into targeted ads while others take a cheaper, more patient approach to building their audiences organically. While both have merit, it shows a unique aspect of social media marketing, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Professional firms like Solutions for Growth attribute much of their social media success to finding a balance between paid and organic ads.
There are too many variables involved in an individual purchase decision and because we don’t convert sales on social media, there are rarely raw numbers to directly compare.
Now more than ever, though, using embedded analytics, you can track user traffic all the way through their purchase journey. You can determine how many inbound users your social media channels provided you and how active those users were on your website. Conversions by referral websites are trackable via website analytics, thus you can see which of your social media channels is driving the most conversions.
Other, more manual methods of tracking like questionnaires and just plain asking people are just as effective, but nearly impossible to maintain with perfection.
It’s important to remember that return on investment via social media will only grow over time. As your “fan base” increases in size, the reach of your organic posts will follow suit, resulting in more shares, comments, and likes which boost the visibility of your posts. Consistency and patience are just as important to your end goals as monetary investment.
Social media marketing serves a very important role in the marketing of professional services. Whereas easy purchases, like a new cap or a fun new bumper sticker, can see their purchase decision made as quickly as the product is introduced, professional services often require a more drawn out and thoughtful consideration process. Social media marketing channels provide professional services firms with a low-cost point of contact with all of those potential customers in your sales funnel.