[IMGCAP(1)]There are tons of ways a CPA firm can use social media that are not related to Twitter or Facebook.

Here is one that many times goes unmentioned but that I find practical and enlightening because it reinforces traditional marketing tactics that are easier to understand.

Take a tip from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and their use of technology. The CDC has turned to Google in recent years to predict outbreaks of the flu, disease and other viral nuisances. Google is able to help because our culture often turns to the Web to search for what ails us.

For example, when your five-year-old child tells you she has a sore throat, you may take a peek and witness red dots throughout her mouth. You then turn to Google to see what information is out there regarding a diagnosis and possible cure. If you did the search I mentioned above, you would find this article that mentions some helpful tips in diagnosing strep throat.

The CDC, in turn, follows trends in what people are searching for on the Web and from what parts of the country they are coming. This allows them to be nimble with their public messaging and campaigns in an attempt to head off outbreaks before they become widespread.

“So how does this help my marketing efforts as a CPA?” you might ask. People, perhaps more than when they are sick, turn to the Web (aka Google) to get answers to the financial questions they are asking, both personally and professionally. When it comes to your local market, what are the hot topics? What local tax issues are seeing rising interest? This is where a tool called Google Insight can help you find the relevancy of financial matters in your firm’s market.

This tool provides “insight” on how to market. It doesn’t do any marketing for you. That’s still your job, but it can help you determine what/how you market.

Here's an example of how to use Google Insight. Say you’re a CPA firm located in Columbus, Ohio, with the ability to help businesses understand and implement GAAP. You might ask, “What interest is there in GAAP in our local market? What should we do to market our expertise?”

You can use Google Insight to do the following search. You find out your region is in the “Top 10 Metro” areas in the U.S. that are searching for help on GAAP:

You find out the way people are searching for help is by searching for “IFRS vs GAAP.” Google has actually deemed it a “breakout,” which means that lots of people are using that terminology to find information relevant to the subject:

Here’s how you can use the data. You have confirmed the interest in your local area for knowledge regarding GAAP. Host a webinar for local controllers, CFOs, etc., explaining the difference between the two standards. Call the webcast “IFRS vs GAAP – How to proceed with confidence.”

Then send a mailing to a list of contacts (building a list is another topic) drawing attention to your firm’s expertise in GAAP. If you have a cold call campaign, develop a script around the subject and start making calls (or hire someone to make them). Or perhaps write two or three articles explaining GAAP.

If you have a blog, blog about this subject. Call it “IFRS and GAAP: Understanding the Differences.” Do multiple posts and pull from the content you used to write the articles mentioned above.

Find local gatherings of financially minded people and send them a speaker sheet or bio that mentions this as a desired subject amongst business decision makers and your availability to speak on the matter.

The above example is not all that important, except to demonstrate that there is a tool readily available, and in a previous lifetime it would have cost millions to tap into it. But today, it’s free, and only a few clicks away. This tool can be used to find local financial interests and insights on how to speak about them.

As with any data, decisions and actions around the data are where the marketing battles are won and lost. If your firm is like most firms, your talent problem has become a marketing and sales problem. Here is a tool for your tool belt. Use it. Don’t just think about it.

Roy Keely serves as director of marketing at Xcentric, which specializes in cloud computing and IT consulting for CPA firms. He can be reached at rkeely@xcentric.com.

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