How to entice prospects using social media

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Hear from AAT members who have built up a waiting list of prospective staff and clients through their online presence.

Social media can make or break a reputation. Ill-thought-out comments have ruined brands and prominent people. But, used carefully and wisely, many platforms can be extremely effective business development tools to gain visibility, build engagement, improve sales and even construct a pipeline of prospective hires. We spoke to AAT members who have made good use of social media platforms to help build their businesses.

Personal approach

Social media platforms 

Instagram @busy_books_westbury_ltd (255 followers)  

Facebook (532 followers) 

Twitter @Busy_Books (862 followers) 

Natasha Penny-Rowe, Founder of Westbury-based accountancy firm Busy Books, uses social media to dispel the ‘stuffy accountant’ image. “We use it to show who we are,” she explains.  

Although Penny-Rowe does post key tax deadlines and information about business grants predominantly, the content is much chattier. “We post pictures of our pets, pictures of us doing normal, human things,” she says.

The no-strategy strategy seems to work. People visit their Facebook page after seeing their posts on local groups or when their content has been shared. Penny-Rowe, who prioritises interacting on social media over the website, says they’re getting a ‘small handful’ of new clients each month as a result, and 80% of enquiries via social media become regular customers. 

“We want to show we’re humans behind this serious job, with families, hobbies and interests. A huge amount of our clients choose us for this reason.”   

Fuelling the talent pipeline 

Social media platforms 

Instagram @accountant_she (8,705 followers)  

YouTube (5,867 followers) 

LinkedIn (3,937 followers) 

TikTok (545 followers) 

Rachel Harris MAAT, Director of accountancy firms StriveX and accountant_she, has over 600 clients on her books, 25 prospective clients a week and enjoys a 70% conversion rate. There is even a talent pool of potential employees waiting to join her business.  

And StriveX, one of the UK’s fastest-growing accountancy practices, has grown 400% since it was set up six years ago. 

“I have a very strategic approach,” Harris explains. “I provide accessible and valuable content while monetising it behind-the-scenes through sponsorship, brand collaborations or simply by the number of views. It always remains free for the end-user. Being a friendly face, that’s at the heart of everything I do.” 

Harris works with three ‘content pillars’ – each relating to a different target audience: practice owners, business owners and accounting students. “I rotate my content across these pillars evenly. One week, content will be targeted towards practice owners, the next week it’ll be business owners, then the following week will be accounting students, so every single third of my audience is served every three weeks. Consistency is important – people like it and so do the algorithms.” 

Harris uses Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook to provide free webinars, advice-led posts and explainer videos to her 20,000 followers across the various channels.

“A lot of what I do is around financial education, providing accessible, approachable content for people who need it, whether they are business owners or just starting out,” she explains. 

Even the business talent pool – or employee waiting list – is highly strategic. It came about when Harris realised she disliked recruitment due its costly, time-sensitive and stressful nature.  

The talent pool solves these problems – potential candidates upload their CV and answer a few questions. When a vacancy comes up, Harris already has a bank of potential employees who already know her business and culture because they already follow her on social media. “People on the waiting list already know about me and understand my brand. So the main question for me is: are they confident and capable enough to deliver?”  

As Harris explains, social media has “literally” grown her business: 85% of enquiries come from social media, as do 15% of referrals. “People think social media isn’t quantifiable, but it absolutely is,” she says. “70% of people I speak to on social media become clients. I think that speaks for itself.”

Beauty of rapid growth 

Social media platforms

Instagram @riajaine (5,908 followers) and @thebeautyaccountant (1,227 followers) 

LinkedIn (2,245 followers) 

Facebook Ria-Jaine: Beauty Business Accounting (906 followers) 

When Ria-Jaine Lincoln, Founder of The Beauty Accountant, began supporting businesses in the hair and beauty sector in 2018 after identifying a gap in the market, her initial focus was getting her name out.  

Yet Lincoln had inside knowledge of the industry, having worked in a nail salon before setting up her accountancy business. Prior to that, she’d worked at Deloitte. 

“I knew Mondays tend to be the day off for hair and beauty businesses so that’s when everyone is doing bookkeeping. It wouldn’t work posting tax content on a Friday when businesses are focusing on clients.” 

Armed with this knowledge, Lincoln threw herself into her social media campaigns, creating regular posts about cash flow, tax and bookkeeping advice and responding to every comment. She even secured a speaking slot at the prestigious Olympia Beauty Show in her first year of business. 

During the pandemic, when things started coming together. “I learned about strategy, wordplay, hashtags and engagement. Hair and beauty by its very nature is a visual industry, so I moved over to Instagram and that’s where my focus is,” she says. Her business saw a 300% increase – her client base grew from 10 to just under 100 and she was getting 16 to 21 leads a month. 

Since then, Lincoln has received a 2020 Covid Hero Award for her support and guidance to business owners during the pandemic, she’s been twice listed as one of the top 50 women in accountancy internationally, and she’s been a regular columnist for nail magazine Scratch.  

“All of this is directly attributable to my social media strategy,” she explains. “It’s been about positioning myself as an expert in my industry, ensuring I’m providing regular, relevant content for my audience.” 

At any one time, Lincoln has 300 posts ready to go. She uses automated responses on Instagram, negating the need to respond personally to comments, and she repurposes posts that have done well in the past. 

And then there’s the question of growth. “If you go big, you have to be prepared to have 100 leads in one day.” It’s why Lincoln now operates under a separate brand, The Beauty Accountant, as a way to gently nudge potential clients towards the brand rather than her, personally. “Clients just wanted to work with me, but that’s unsustainable,” she admits.

Now, Lincoln’s focus is on the client journey and maintaining what she’s built up. “With my social media ticking over, I can focus on clients.”

Opening doors for your brand 

Social media platforms 

Instagram @toddoors (8,355 followers) 

LinkedIn (2,245 followers) 

Facebook (6,500 followers) 

Pinterest (1,200 followers) 

“Back in the day, we used billboards for advertising – now we use social media,” says Farha Jamadar FMAAT, Head of Finance at Todd Doors, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of high-quality timber doors. Todd Doors, which sells predominantly to the higher end of the market, targets the trades sector, including developers and interior designers, as well as consumers, providing both off-the-shelf internal and external doors as well as custom-made, bespoke products. 

Jamadar is heavily involved in budgeting and maximisation of the marketing strategy, a big part of which includes social media. “Our social media strategy is focused on brand awareness and engagement. It draws interest, which ultimately drives people to our showrooms. People need to see the doors in situ, to experience the look and feel.” 

Todd Doors uses Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube to showcase its products through photographs, short video interviews with industry experts and visual walk-throughs, but it’s Instagram and Pinterest that are the biggest drive’ of sales. According to Jamadar, conversion rates are around 40%. 

“Advertising through social media is a much richer experience than other traditional methods,” says Jamadar. “We can keep things current and respond to trends. We post photographs of our doors in real life with seasonal themes and these get a lot of engagement. In December, the doors are decorated with wreaths and Christmas lights and during Hallowe’en there are autumnal colours and pumpkins on the porch. It’s all about aesthetics and showing them off. We often have competitions and promotions and these attract a lot of interest, too.” 

Jamadar says they tried TV advertising, but found it wasn’t as effective as social media. Their selling point is talking directly to customers and engaging with posts. “Most customers want a lot of hand-holding through the process, with a consultation to go through ideas and possibilities. So we try to reflect this approach on social media, by being responsive and on hand.”  

Annie Makoff is a freelance journalist and editor.

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