Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beyond Linkedin: Pushing Past Social Media Clutter

Social media and social networking have bounded across the professional services firm adoption chasm recently. In fact, there’s so much social media noise; so many texts and tweets that our value can be lost in the digital deluge. Creative Growth Group recently convened four expert panelists on the topic:

Lisa Tilt - Full Tilt Consulting
Lee Kantor - Business RadioX
Debra Kline - Business Wise
Michael KogonDefinition 6

They shared the following best practices and suggestions on how professional service firms can get the most out of social media:

1. There are three main ways that professionals are using social media and social networking: (i) as a Marketing communication & demand generation channel; (ii) as a Recruitment, Retention and Productivity tool; and (iii) as a Client Service Delivery Tool and Satisfaction Monitor.

Marketing Communication & Demand Generation:

2. Start by clarifying the target audience you want to reach through social media tools.
a. The primary audiences of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Plaxo, MySpace, etc. are not all the same and are not necessarily where you will reach key professional services purchasers. Though the demographics are changing rapidly, they may be still be best for reaching the “next generation” of professionals rather than the former one. The good news is that there’s an ever-increasing ton of information about who is using which tools…and, even, where they’re using them.
b. Remember, too, that the context in which your professional brand is displayed carries a message about who you are and what you do. Therefore, who you invite to be “friends” or “linkedin” to you can be seen by others and those friends and how they behave may reflect on your professionalism by association. And, perhaps you shouldn’t post the photos of you and your drunken fraternity brothers or list that you’re single when you’re actually married…that sort of thing. I actually know of a guy who got kicked off the Board of a company for doing the later.
c. Tools such as Business Wise allow you to enter the profile of your best clients/targets and develop lists of “clones” – that is, they help you figure out all the other prospective clients in the local market that look demographically just like your best existing clients. Business Wise also now links its database directly to social networking tools like Linkedin for fast and easy “who knows who” discovery.

3. Keep in mind that social media and social networking are not about hawking your business services…at least not directly and blatantly. They’re about demonstrating how you and your business can solve problems for others and make them look smart. The more focused and specific your messaging and targeting in social media the better.

4. Social media venues can help you establish a relationship building opportunity, but there’s nothing like in-person dialogue to help develop that relationship. Some tools, like online radio, are equipped to do both. Example: Jason Jones of CresaPartners and his use of on-line radio (Battlefield of Business) illustrates how to develop a branding opportunity into a chance to hold an in-person, direct dialogue with prospects while also increasing a prospect’s public profile and giving the client and oneself additional client development content. The work that Lee Kantor creates through his online radio programs offer the same opportunities.

5. Social media is just another communication channel that happens to be more cost effective and easily accessible than others. But it is not a silver bullet. In fact, it demands a higher degree of honesty and transparency with the audience. For instance, Wal-Mart did themselves more harm than good when they got caught staging their blog about a couple that drove an RV across the use. The “authentic” couple, it turned out, had been hired by Wal-Mart’s PR agency.

6. When using social networking for Client Development make a distinction between collecting and connecting. Adding names (alone) to your LinkedIn doesn’t generate revenue. Instead of randomly adding more and more names to your list, actively nurture the most important real, live relationships behind those contacts and convert them into opportunities and referrals. To increase effectiveness make sure you have a process in place to measure and follow up.

7. Use other people’s content as a marketing tool (crediting the others, of course) and don’t underestimate the power of information. That is, social media tools can put you on the front line of new information and you might help your clients by being the first to share certain news with them directly – so long as you share insights and not just facts. Now that everyone can readily access the same information, it’s important to focus on “how else” you might interpret the facts in ways that benefit your clients and demonstrate your added-value as a professional.

8. New Social Media PR tools like are emerging so that you can package and share news across social media platforms.

Recruitment, Retention and Productivity Tool:

9. Inside the organization, consider using Yammer: (i) the archiving option and other features make it an enterprise-grade Twitter-like communication tool for co-working and transferring/retaining knowledge; and (ii) it allows a closed dialogue just among your colleagues rather than with the entire online world so there’s more privacy than with other tools like Twitter.

10. Your firm’s HR and privacy policies and practices already in place should apply to social media as well. When using on individual basis, keep in mind it’s a free-for-all and accessible by all so all your social media communication is open to unfettered interpretation. Adopt a filtering system similar to that which you use for your other communication (email, mail, verbal, etc.). On a larger scale – make sure your crisis communication policies are in place to deal with issues created by or unwanted information disseminated by social media.

11. Establish a Linkedin company/group page established and/or a Facebook page for your company. Use it to project the brand image your Firm prefer’s to present and to engage and attract prospective clients and future colleagues.

12. Firm’s executive/management committees should consider including a rotating generational liaison slot for one of the youngest full time employees to attend key meetings and provide a social media and social networking – heck, an overall technology usage – perspective for the Firm.

Client Service Delivery Tool and Satisfaction Monitor:

13. Social media forces transparency and authenticity between you and your firm’s stakeholders. Avoiding the social media trend may cause a trust gap between your firm and your key clients, colleagues and colleagues. Embracing it can enhance the how clients perceive your responsiveness and service quality and help you know whether they really like you or not. Some examples form the world of consumer services and entertainment services:
• Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines uses Twitter to broadcast service information and deals to customers.
• Detroit Pistons: The Detroit Pistons are using Twitter as part of a larger social media strategy that includes a social network, team blogs, and video to connect fans with other fans, and boost the team’s word of mouth marketing.
• Comcast: Comcast has several Comcast representatives on Twitter who scan tweets for Comcast-related complaints or issues and reach out to help.
• H&R Block: H&R Block use its Twitter account to share valuable information to customers, listen to what’s being said about the company online and provide support and solve problems.

Professional services firms might consider monitoring what the social media world is saying about their clients and prospects because that buzz may expose situations which call for the solutions which only your firm can provide. You can track what social media participants are saying about you and your clients through sites like,, and


14. If you’re wondering, “Who has time for all this social media?”
a. Take it slow by starting with one and focusing on using just one tool for just one pragmatic purpose. For instance, start with Linkedin and use it to gain deeper background information on key contacts within prospect organizations.
b. Don’t author original tweets, blog posts, or other interaction but simply answer questoins or provide comments. The more you get your name in comments, the more you enhance your presence on Google searches.
c. Create a repository of content before moving online – repurpose the content online and then distribute across multiple online/social media venues. Tools like,,

15. Consider the implications of social media on your clients’ businesses and then consider what that might imply for you you can better serve them.

1 comment:

Accounting Services said...

hey really useful and informative post... it really make me thinking...
there some points at which you are very correct...