“I am confused about the difference between my personal social media and my business social media. As I am a sole trader, do I really need two? Or do I keep my business profile purely business?”
This is a really great question. It shows you’re keen to be using social more. You’re looking around seeing some accountants have personal accounts, some have business accounts, and some have both. Which one do you need? Which is right for your firm?
You’ll be thrilled to find out we recommend the “less is more” approach when it comes to starting and growing your social media efforts.
I’ve seen far too many examples of very small firms (or even one-person accounting firms) getting overwhelmed and exhausted by social media because they’re trying to be the equivalent of larger firms. Or to emulate larger businesses of any kind, and other types of businesses who are using social to promote their products.
Social media is, absolutely, one of the best ways to be present before your clients and prospects on a regular basis.
It’s also been around long enough that “just using social” is not a good strategy. It’s a really bad one, and it will discourage and dishearten you (and you won’t see results).
The short version is, the smaller the company, the more important it is to focus on your personal profiles.
At the beginning, and when you’re small, the business is you.
So if you have this official business account, but really people are just connecting with you right now, they’re going to feel a bit of a disconnect. (It’s like having a website that says “we” all throughout when it’s really just you.) By focusing on your personal social media profiles, you’ll get more engagement and results.
You can have official business accounts on social media, but as a smaller firm you don’t need to do too much with them right now. You can worry about that later when (if) you get employees.
Here’s how to mange this on the ‘big five’ of social media platforms, for smaller accounting firms and one-person accounting businesses:
Either use your personal Facebook profile, or create a “public figure” page which means it uses your personal name, but is sort of business-y. Like this one of mine.
I post some personal stuff and some business stuff, but it’s not my (more private) personal profile for friends and family.
Actually for full disclosure I kept my “more private” personal profile to only family and friends for a while….and then i discovered my clients and suppliers and business colleagues were friends, too. I hung out with them and stayed in their homes and rang them up for a chat and …oh we may as well be friends on Facebook too. You don’t have to go that route, but this whole “my facebook profile is private” thing is probably more of a concept in your mind than an actual reality.
Here, just use your own name – ie @karenlreyburn. You can create the profile for your business as well, but again don’t worry about that too much. Use the personal one to engage with people, reply, share, be social!
When I started PF, I created a very formal Profitable Firm twitter account with our branding and official posts about content and advice for accountants. I remember distinctly the day I was meeting with a few people from Xero at Accountex, and they went to tag me on Twitter and said “what’s your twitter handle? Karen Reyburn? Karen L Reyburn?”, and I realised they were expecting to connect with ME on twitter. Not the entire company I’d built. So I separated them, and now the whole team uses the PF one, and only I use my own one.
The same principles apply here as on Twitter. Have an insta for yourself personally, and if you want to you can create one for the business. For the sake of time, if you’re small or just getting started, don’t overwhelm yourself with two. Focus on your own personal one and you can build up the business one later. (But DO actually set up the business insta account so you have the username you want.)
Important point about personal accounts: I’m completely passionate about my social accounts being MINE. When you message me on any of the socials with my name (karenlreyburn), you’re talking to me personally. It’s really discouraging to me when someone has a social account with their own name, but you’re actually talking to their PA or their VA or their team member or the entire company. If you’re going to have a personal social account, with your own name and your own photography, keep it personal. Don’t outsource that to someone who isn’t you. (Or if you do, be transparent about it. Say “this account is monitored by me and the whole team”, so they know.)
Definitely focus on your own profile on LinkedIn. When you’re small, don’t bother with a business account at this stage. You only need that if youre a big company, in my opinion. People don’t really follow companies on LinkedIn, they follow people.
For this one I’d use the business name. Any videos you create (and please do create them) will be on behalf of the business, and you don’t need two YouTube accounts. Create a business profile for this and put any videos from you on that one.
Now that you have the accounts set up and you’re clear what you’re going to focus on, personal v business, it’s time to decide how much effort you put into them.
I’ve listed only five social media accounts, and even if you only use the personal ones, that’s a lot of social media for someone who is feeling time-swamped already. (We had a client who tried to do all of them, both personal and business for all five, and got swamped and exhausted, and was tempted to give up altogether. We don’t want that!)
Here’s where, when, and how much to post:
1. Pick one account as your default social media.
Which one do you like the best? Enjoy the most? Tend to turn to when you want to share something?
About two years ago, I decided to really step up my efforts on Instagram. I really liked it, but I didn’t understand it too well. I saw it everywhere, and more importantly I saw that the kind of people I liked and appreciated and wanted to be like were spending a lot of time on Insta. Plus it’s really visual, and I’m a visual person (images, graphics, photographs, sketches, video).
So I made Insta my primary social because I wanted to….and lo and behold a few years on I’m connecting with many accountants on it (PF’s target market) because the ones who are most like me feel the same.
I chose that one based on what I wanted, but you also need to choose based on what they want. Next point.
2. Pick one primary account: one you know is preferred by your target audience.
Your target audience needs to guide your decision as to which social media account will be your primary account.
There’s a difference between a primary account and a default account. The ‘default’ is just the one you like best. You turn to it, you enjoy it, you’d use it whether you had a business or not.
But the primary account focuses your mind on content for your target audience. Where do they hang out, get their ideas, have conversations, ask questions?
That’s where you need to be – even if it’s not your favourite. Even if you have to learn it and work at it and find it difficult.
LinkedIn is the social most preferred by my target audience. For years I didn’t do too much with it. To be fair it wasn’t a great platform for a while – it was so professional it was full of itself and very boring. But it’s gotten better: and the most significant upgrade in the past year has been the LinkedIn app. Because the app was easier to use (much more social!), I started using it more. And once i started using it more, I discovered how many accountants are on it and having conversations and connecting there.
Whatever your target audience prefers, make yourself be there on a regular basis.
3. Start by posting every single day.
At least on your default platform, post every day. You need to build into your daily routine a habit of posting on social. If you don’t plan at all, and simply intend to post “every once in a while”, it will turn into once a week or even once a month. Or never. I’ve lost count of the number of “here’s my first tweet!” posts followed by… crickets.
The kinds of things you can post are:
- Meetings you’re going to and why you’re looking forward to them
- A meeting you just had, and how it went
- Thoughts or ideas resulting from a meeting, a conversation, a situation
- Quotes you come across from others you’d like to share (with your opinion or comment)
- Photos and video of your day (your walk or drive to the office, the offices themselves, the team, your clients, things in the colours of your brand, your dog, your coffee, whatever)
Remember: this is to build a habit, not to “get business”. If you think about it as a business-getting venture you’re going to post things like “have you tried cloud accounting?” or “don’t forget we also do payroll!” or salesy type of posts like that.
Just share – who you are, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, the opinions and thoughts you have, why you care.
It’s up to you how much you share. Some accountants tell me they don’t want to share too much, or share pictures of their children, or swear too much, or whatever.
It’s your call. I suggest a little more openness than you’re tempted to have (most accountants under-share rather than over-share), but this is your social. It’s your life.
Share what you want to share, push yourself a little bit, and remember the goal is to actually connect with human beings on a human level. If they end up buying something from you, so more the better: but if they don’t, you’ve impacted their life in some small way. That’s value, too.
4. Start tracking your social media numbers, now.
In order to determine where to put your efforts and what results you’re gaining over the long run, you have to start tracking now. Far better to have “Month one: three followers” and laughingly share the fact you’ve tripled your followers in month two, than to get to year one or year two of social and wonder what you did and when and how the results came.
Notice I said to start tracking them. Don’t start drawing conclusions yet.
That’s really important. Do not start drawing conclusions. It’s too early.
Just track them. If you’re not sure what to track or how, at a bare minimum set up a Gsheet and enter, every month, for all platforms:
- Number of followers
- Likes, comments, mentions, shares
- Most popular post
That’s it. If you are present on all five platforms, you have 20 numbers you’re tracking, and in 6 months you can start drawing some conclusions (PF are here to help you understand them).
So, where will you start today? Which platform will be your personal default, and which will be your primary?
Follow PF (or me personally!) on any of these accounts:
Karen L Reyburn Accounts