[IMGCAP(1)]With the regulations that once kept financial advisors and other money-management professionals on the social-media sidelines a thing of the past, the floodgate of tweets, Snaps and Instagram posts should be wide open by now. But the response has actually been quite muted.
Perhaps this reluctance to partake stems from the generation gap that many financial professionals feel, or maybe it’s a mixture of time-commitment concerns and uncertainty about exactly where to start.
But no matter the reason for your social heel-dragging, the potential opportunity you’re currently missing out on is simply too great to continue a course of inaction. To help illustrate why this is the case and how you can benefit, here are five reasons why tax professionals in particular should embrace the social sphere—customer reviews, in particular—with wide open arms.
1. It’s Free Marketing: Social statistics might make your eyes roll, but it’s hard to get around the fact that nearly nine in 10 people trust online reviews, while six in 10 actively seek them out before purchasing a product or service, according to research from Cone Communications.
Reviews also have the biggest impact on the center of a person’s social circle, as more than 80 percent of people around the world trust recommendations from family and close friends. And it is those individuals whose social media posts we are most likely to see.
2. They Make You More Accessible: With a growing share of the Millennial generation reaching financial maturity, a huge new market is opening up. But many Millennials are more inclined to use a free online tool than work with a real, live tax professional. It’s your job to try to break through.
Finding you organically in a Web search, which content from reviews can help foster, is a great first introduction. Furthermore, a strong social media presence can help you connect and interact with people in your area who have tax questions, thus further enforcing your burgeoning reputation. More young folks will turn to Google with questions before a brick-and-mortar business. Bear in mind that you will have to share some wisdom for free, but if you go about it the right way, you could set yourself up with a whole new client base.
3. The Cream Rises to the Top: Every bad apple plucked from the crop before consumers make their pick increases your odds of being the lucky fruit selected. And we all know that every profession has its share of poorly representative individuals. Reviews help shine a negative light on them, thus benefitting the best of the bunch.
This is one facet of reviews that you don’t necessarily need to do much to benefit from. If you’re a great tax professional, positive reviews will find you, while negative write-ups begin to haunt your less reputable colleagues. But you can help build momentum by soliciting reviews from satisfied customers.
4. Referrals are Abnormally Loyal: People who choose a brand or service provider based on a referral from a current customer not only remain clients for longer than average, but they’re also more profitable. Consider, for example, a Harvard Business Review study of the German banking industry, which found referrals to be 18 percent more loyal and 16 percent more profitable than customers acquired through other means. As a result, the researchers found that referrals provide an average return of 60 percent.
Of course, that is a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison, but the finding make a lot of sense. Referrals have a specific reason for becoming customers, driven in no small part by the trust they have in the referrer. If your customers trust you, help them share the love with those close to them.
5. If You Don’t, Someone Else Will: Regardless of your exact feelings about interacting with social media, it can be quite effective if done strategically. So the question is: Do you want it working for you or against you? Because not all tax professionals will refrain, and the bold will be rewarded while the meek get left behind.
Assuming you’re now convinced about the power of customer reviews, an important question still remains: How does one go about getting in the social-media game? Well, adding a reviews section to your website—which you can them promote among your clients—is one excellent (and relatively easy) option, as the free content will help the site rank better in Web searches. Similarly, you can ask clients to share testimonials on sites like WalletHub and Yelp that consumers already reference regularly.
Beyond that, just try to be yourself and interact as much as possible. It’s called social media for a reason, after all. There are also countless social media guides and blogs you can consult to learn more about developing and implementing a social media plan. Enjoy the ride!
Odysseas Papadimitriou is CEO of the personal-finance website WalletHub, which offers free credit scores, full credit reports, 24/7 credit monitoring and thousands of reviews of financial products, professionals and companies.
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