By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
by Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, president
I’ve been doing quite a bit of speaking lately, primarily on the topic of content marketing and social media. The audiences tend to include everyone from ardent believers (thank you for your nods and smiles) to complete skeptics (I can see your eyes rolling from the front of the room) and nearly every step in between. That’s a fun mix and leads to some excellent questions and audience input.
While I do think both content marketing and social media can be incredibly effective tools for professional services firms and providers, I’m also quick to point out that they are not magic bullets, they require consistency and most importantly, they take a good deal of planning. They’re worth the effort though, in so many different ways.
One of the issues I typically cover up front is a discussion of the benefits that a firm can reap from social media and content marketing. There are many, but one of the biggest is the fact that you can create online relationships with people quickly. I’ve chatted with people on Twitter that I would have never been able to reach via phone or email. It simply wouldn’t happen.
Social media is also great for further cementing the relationships that you already have. It’s pretty easy to pass along a quick hello or comment on a particularly riveting post on social media. Actually, it takes less time than even sending a quick email. And as another bonus, depending on the platform you are using, others may be able to see the praise you are passing along and find in it inspiration to know that person too. That kind of public generosity tends to build serious appreciation in the recipients.
So I have to admit I felt a nice sense of validation when I read this article from Business Insider, “90% of customers will recommend brands after social media interaction.” Admittedly, the study was looking at consumer brands, not professional services firms, but the underlying tenet still holds true. Those clients, prospects and referral sources who have interacted – or even better, who interact on a regular basis – with you online are MUCH more likely to recommend your services to their friends and colleagues.
Whether you share it or not, they feel a personal connection with you and your firm because of these interactions. They derive a sense that they know you and that you are responsive to them, both of which make them more likely to work with you and tell their friends they should work with you too.
And since referrals and recommendations are the biggest source of new business for professional services firms, doesn’t it seem like a good idea to do something that leads to more of them? I think so, but would like to hear what you think too. Do you observe social media interactions paying off in referrals?