The growth of social media in the corporate world is undeniable. According to media agency Battenhall, 96% of FTSE 100 companies are now on Twitter; meanwhile, 70% of respondents to the 2015 Wolters Kluwer survey of 800 accountants use social media in their professional or personal lives.
While it appears unlikely that you will damage your practice if you don’t use social media, it can also be hard to pinpoint tangible benefits. So, how should firms make the most of social media? Questions such as ‘what’ and ‘where’ have largely been answered – LinkedIn appears to be the starting place for professional activity for example, followed by blogs and Twitter.
However, open questions remain about how professional firms such as accountants and lawyers should use such tools. LinkedIn has a variety of active forums and groups (indeed, over half of respondents to the Wolters Kluwer survey used LinkedIn for this purpose) but there is a risk of spreading inexperienced resource thinly and maybe focusing on the wrong content.
Based on conversations we are having with professional firms across the board, we believe that appropriate use of social media reflects how firms should act in any public forum, online or face-to-face.
1. You don’t have to breach client confidentiality to go social. The principles of a case may deserve a wider airing, and/or client situations can be discussed while preserving anonymity.
2. As in general conversation, you can loosen the language in social forums without becoming flippant, equally you can express a view as long as it is defensible
3. When starting or joining a discussion, it is worth ensuring you are bringing something to the party even if it is simply the benefit of your own experience.
4. Speaking of experience, few executives have a great deal of ‘form’ in restructuring and turnaround so a healthy appetite exists for education.
5. Focus is important – while you may have knowledge of any number of areas, you should concentrate on discussions that reflect your areas of professional expertise.
A tip on how to ensure that social media activity is useful
Beyond these principles each blog, tweet or other social media activity should incorporate a place to go – for example, a link to a web page. Such actionable hooks can be measured (e.g. using link shorteners) so a social media manager role can get an insight into whether they were useful.
Social media is a work in progress for all firms, including ours: at ReSolve we’ve decided to embrace the platforms but treat their risks with appropriate respect – in fact we’re currently working with legal outfit LCN to broadcast key content, such as a section 110 liquidation-demerger guide. The whole point is the conversation so we welcome your own experiences, as well as any insights or feedback you may have about making the most of social platforms to benefit yourselves and your clients.