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social media marketingSocial media is an area of business that is wrought with conflicting opinions. Some say that it is an essential marketing strategy for all businesses. Some say it is a total waste of time and not right for their industry. And then there are those who have the right idea – the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

The reality is, like it or not, social media is here and it is here to stay. The challenge for any business in any niche becomes finding the right channels for your particular industry and your particular business-specific situation.

Those who are anti-social media consider it to be a waste of time, not easily measured in terms of ROI, and perhaps see it as just a passing fad. Some of this type of thinking could be because many business people are intimidated by the idea of social media either because they don’t fully understand it or perhaps they are from the old school marketing mentality. Marketing today should consist of a well-integrated mix of many different marketing channels including the Internet. In order to be successful today, business owners must adapt to the changing business world to achieve and maintain a competitive edge.

Social media is a set of tools – it is not a means to an end. It is the tool-set professional services firms (and others) use to:

  • Build awareness
  • Gain exposure
  • Engage in conversations
  • Build relationships
  • Inform, educate and/or influence
  • Establish industry leader status

If looked at in this light, professional service providers will see that the role of social media is indeed important and valuable to getting more clients. Did you know that Corporate Counsels read blogs? Well they do and you can read about some interesting statistics on Corporate Counsel Read Blogs? Who Knew??  The article states:

Nearly 70 percent of respondents aged 30 to 39 expect their consumption of business and legal industry news through social media platforms to increase within the next six months.”

This article also discusses an increased use of Facebook amongst younger counsel (30-39 year olds) which is interesting in that Facebook tends to merge personal and professional lives together as opposed to a site like Linkedin which is completely professional. It will be interesting to see how the increased use of Facebook works out for professional services groups, as this author, is a little wary of mixing business with personal information.

With the jury still out about social networking on personal sites like Facebook, there is no doubt that blogs and industry forums provide a highly visible online means for professional service companies to:

  • Increase their online presence
  • Establish themselves as an industry expert
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Increase brand visibility
  • Distinguish themselves from their competition
  • Build their reputation by letting potential clients SEE their expertise rather than simply hearing about it
  • Establish themselves as an industry thought leader

Keep in mind that the more visible your professional services firm is, the more likely you will able to benefit from cross-selling opportunities. If you are a law firm providing entity formation services for a client, it is not unreasonable to assume that this same client might not be aware of other legal services your firm offers.

If you consider social media as channels of communication, you will realize that utilizing these channels to inform, engage, interact and influence your target audience will eventually translate into a higher conversion rate and increased profits. Connect rather than collect. Build relationships and nurture them. People like to do business with people they know and professional services firms are no different. Introduce yourself to your target market via social media channels, engage them in conversations through meaningful interactions, and let them see for themselves what you are all about. Share your knowledge with your potential clients. This knowledge doesn’t necessarily have to be your own original content. Sharing others’ knowledge (with the credit given where it is due) will only help your reputation and others’ perception of you as a provider of knowledge, valuable information, and someone they will want to do business with.

About the Author

Julie Weishaar Provides Internet and Video Marketing Solutions For Business

17 Responses to “Social Media Marketing is a Waste of Time for Professional Services Firms”
Read them below or add one

  1. Hi Saul. I think a good combination of face-to-face and social media for all professions is the best answer.

  2. Even for consultants, its in the going out and meeting face to face that business get won, right?

  3. Thanks Jeanette. I can understand why Lawyers are a little skittish which was why I was surprised to find the research I found. They tend to be a bit conservative – for lack of a better word – in trying to adhere to every legal nook and cranny. You should either write a blog post or do a case study (unless you already have) about your friend who used Twitter for her consulting client. Maybe an interview that you can put on a web show? Isn't it great how these things can be so congruent? I am loving that word "congruent" lately!

  4. Julie — Lawyers are still a little skittish but management consulting firms have taken the plunge.  A friend used Twitter as the springboard for her consulting client who was targeting CIOs.  Within a few short months he became the go-to person on Twitter for CIOs and his name tops the list when doing a wefollow search.  He's had many media interviews and speaking engagements and developed a blog called Twitter Dashboard which serves as a community for CIOs.  What social media can do to build a brand and a personality is almost limitless.  Great post.

  5. Hi Catherine,

    Oh – I definitely agree with you that it is "creepy" that a stranger wanted to be FB friends with my daughter! Many people see the numbers of friends and/or followers as being the end-all which we know it isn't. It is the value of those connections and what we do with them that helps use achieve our desired ROI.

     

     

  6. Nice work Julie. Just want to tell you I think it's creepy someone who you didn't really know tried to friend your daughter on FB.  #notcool
    Back to the discussion – you're absolutely right that social media brands companies. Blogging is the heart of social media and the other channels support it which is why more and more companies are trying to blog.  Websites and blogs are able to see the ROI of social through their analytics.

  7. Hi Jule, I think Facebook is a networking site to really keep an eye on. Up until recently, I've maintained a professional presence on it while connecting on a personal level. FB's "Networked Blogs" and the ability to have a "user-name" for a page indicates to me that FB is now embracing businesses on a level that didn't exist before. Every day, there seem to be more apps to interface with FB. I think the demographics may be shifting a little to include a somewhat older group also. More and more baby-boomers seem to be joining. For someone like me, who blogs to sole proprietors and entrepreneurs, FB is giving me a lot of exposure recently that I hadn't expected.The fact that simply "liking" my page or "sharing" my post can potentially bring it to the attention of all of that person's friends is very powerful.

    • Hi Sherryl,

      Did you see the Social Network based on Facebook? If not, I highly recommend it. I tried to keep my personal and professional separate by use of my business page, but business folk kept sending me friend requests that I at first resisted, and then gave in. The fuzzy lines between personal and business became apparent when my daughter asked me who someone was. I said I had no idea and asked why. She said because they sent HER a friend request LOL – I told her to ignore it.

      You are right that Facebook is embracing the business world – it is for us to learn how to embrace it in the most effective way. I am trying….. :) I think the demographics have already shifted to not only our generation but even our parent’s generation. I commented on a photo of a gal and her dad that I went to HS with – HE sent me a friend request. My parents also have one but for the life of me I can’t get them to understand that people are not writing on THEIR Facebook. I tried explaining to them that this is like a bulletin board that others can write on – they still didn’t get it so I gave up!

      Great point about the “like” functionality giving more exposure. I am “liking” tons of your great value :)

      Thanks for sharing your insights!

  8. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for interesting perespective on social media. I agree with you that their significance is and will be growing more and more and that it is important to deal with them properly, meaning building great relationships first before utilizing any marketing attempts. It takes time, however, as other bloggers wrote here, to be present in facebook, twitter, other web 2.0 properties, do blog commenting and more :). Do you have any system to handle all that?

    • Hi Justyna,

      I actually found it surprising that attorneys were using social media but I think if one looks at social media from its intended purpose, building relationships, developing trust, and being perceived as someone who not only knows what they are talking about but also as someone you would want to do business with, then it makes more sense.

      As far as systems, it is trial and error, especially when it comes to the onerous quantity of social networking sites available. In the beginning I signed up for everything. Now I am more selective in which ones I choose to join. The ones where I find the most value and where the reciprocity is good, are the ones where I spend most of my time. Another part of the “system” is to set realistic goals for yourself. If your goals are too high and you can’t keep up with the schedule you have set for yourself – you will become easily overwhelmed – heck even with well-run “systems” it is easy to become overwhelmed. Consistency is very important especially in blogging. It is better to aim for posting once a week than to try to adhere to posting daily and running out of steam quickly.

      Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to networking more with you. Thanks also for letting me know about my CommentsLuv Plugin not working properly. I just sent Sherryl an email to see if she can see what is going on. If anyone else has an idea – please share :)

  9. Susan Oakes says:

    Hi Julie,
    As you said social media is here and if you are at least not looking into it then you can be left behind. One thing I find is it is better to have a consistent presence in a few places than fleeting appearances in many. That way it is simpler to become involved and I think more likely to get results and build customer relationships.

    • Hi Susan. No doubt about it. There are way too many networking sites out there and if we are not selective in which ones we choose to devote our time and effort to, we can easily become overwhelmed and as you say, only be able to manage a “fleeting presence” in all of them. We are better off participating in those that are most relevant to our niche and/or are the most active in terms of reciprocity. There have been many groups I have joined where I was the only one “discussing” anything. It gets a little boring talking to yourself – so I moved on to the next one :)

  10. Keith Davis says:

    Hi Julie
    Well written article giving both sides of the social media debate.
    I can see all the benefits but for me simply finding the time to take part in Facebook and Twitter would be a problem.
    Guess my socialising is centred on forming relationships with other bloggers and becoming part of the blogosphere.
    That still takes time but it's a form of socialising that I enjoy.

    • Hi Keith,

      Thanks for stopping by. You are right – utilizing FB and Twitter takes a TON of time. But hey – sleep is way over-rated anyway right? Your description on what works for you is such an important affirmation that whichever social networking policy one chooses, must be what works best for them and fits into their overall marketing strategy. Thanks for pointing that out. Heading over to easypublicspeaking.co.uk/ now.

  11. Paul Novak says:

    Hmm. I think part of the problem is in how social media is defined. Not all avenues are equal, and some are by their very nature not conducive to business purposes. A blog for example is little more than a platform that is wholly user defined. Facebook on the other is built on socialising at a highly informal level, where the majority of users have absolutely 0 interest in buying anything at all. In fact, in what I consider "true social" media like FB, the potential for business is very poor in my opinion.

    • Hi Paul. I think that is the point, it is HOW social media is defined and I definitely agree that there is a difference in avenues. I tend to agree with you about FB like I indicated in my post, yet there are those who disagree with us. This is one of the reasons I have never invested in FB ads – but yet again, there area many people who are advocates of FB ads. Have you had any experience with them or heard about anyone who has?

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