I recently had a conversation with the Chief Marketing Officer of a mid-size consulting firm. She seemed to agree with the basic thrust of my thinking – that it is becoming increasingly important for her firm (or any professional service firm for that matter) to establish a meaningful presence on social media. And she seemed to appreciate the importance of creating substantive content on a consistent basis as part of the overall social media marketing strategy.
But she also explained it was very difficult to put this theory into practice. With the limited resources of a small marketing department, she was constantly on the “look out” for quality content that could be re-purposed; but even so she found it virtually impossible to secure good fresh content to support her firm’s social media presence. The consultants in her firm, she said, were disinterested and unwilling to use social media to enhance their personal and corporate brand.
I can’t tell you how often I hear something similar from members of professional service firms. Social media sounds great but we’re too busy with our paying clients to spend time chatting online. We don’t have time to create substantive content to support a blog or micro-site. Frankly, these excuses make no sense to me.
No matter what size a professional service firm is, there are always some consultants (or lawyers or accountants) who are “in between projects” or stuck in an airport waiting for a connecting flight or otherwise have time on their hands to help create content. In other words, this is not a problem of free time or resources. It’s a problem of leadership, which must recognize the importance of the issue and create proper incentives. Almost all firms will pay a bonus to reward professionals for bringing in a new client. Now firms must recognize that establishing an effective social media presence is just as important to the firm’s long-term success and therefore they must create similar incentives to encourage professionals to participate in the effort.
The truth is that any good professional must be constantly looking to network and develop new connections and relationships. And as an independent consultant, I know from first hand experience, it can be extremely difficult to network while at the same time fulfilling obligations to my existing clients. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get all the work done and do as much networking as I should be doing. But social media marketing actually alleviates this problem. Instead of running around town, attending events and functions, I have established a regular routine to support my social media marketing, devoting a few hours each (half hour in the morning, half hour in the afternoon, half hour at night) to curate and create content to support my social media presence. This enables me to build a personal brand, develop new connections and relationships with influencers and potential clients, while still having plenty of time to handle my existing assignments.
So it is imperative for professional service firms to understand the realities of the new marketing landscape. Effective social media marketing requires broad-scale engagement across the firm. In my experience, the more broad-based the engagement by various members of the firm, the more successful the effort is likely to be. So professionals in the firm must be trained in how to properly use social media and their continuing participation in social media marketing must be properly encouraged and incentivized. This is the road to finding your future clients. It is not enough to have the marketing department or an agency handle social media on your behalf; as many professionals as possible should be involved in order to gain maximum efficiency and success.
How does your firm handle social media? Does everyone in the firm participate or is this left mostly to the marketing department? Please let us know we would love to hear your story and comments.