Is social media calling your name? If you don’t think it is, perhaps you need to listen a bit more carefully. No, social media is not just for businesses or professionals in the creative fields, and it’s far more than just an instrument for your personal life. It is how you can develop or further develop your personal brand and reach more people than you ever thought possible.

Personal branding isn’t anything new. It’s how we market or sell ourselves—whether personally or professionally—to others. It’s our reputation and how we convey our value to others. But through social media, personal branding takes on an entirely new dimension, especially if you’re a CPA looking to expand your client base or land a great job with an established firm. And, lucky you, you don’t even need to be a social media whiz to get your personal branding on. Here’s what to consider when developing your personal brand using the power of social media:

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish.

Before you can begin your social media branding campaign you must consider what you want to achieve. Keep in mind you may want to achieve a number of things, which may include: increasing your visibility, establishing a niche within the CPA profession, expanding your professional network, attracting new clients, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Fortunately, social media can help you accomplish many of  these things, allowing you to be better recognized by prospective clients and employers, as well as your peers.

A personal website, a blog, and a number of social network profiles through such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great tools for developing your personal brand. For example, you may want to discuss topics relevant to CPAs on a personal blog (thereby showing your expertise in the profession) and then use your personal website and your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts to point followers back to your blog. It’s an interesting concept, but nearly all forms of social media are used to spread the word about other forms of social media that you’re using to promote yourself.

Also consider becoming actively involved in social media outside of your own accounts. Consider joining a blog network or guest blogging on a site relevant to your profession. This will help you reach a much wider audience and allow you to begin establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

Keep in mind, however, that your goal should be to develop relevant followers and subscribers who will become your loyal readers and will encourage others to do the same. Don’t think in terms of how large of a network you can acquire; think instead of the value of your network. Know your followers and know what they want to see from you.

Ask yourself what you want to say (and how you want to say it).

So now you’ve chosen your plan of attack and have decided to start your journey down the path to personal branding. Now it’s time to get your creative juices flowing so you can begin communicating and connecting with others. Whatever you decide to talk about is, of course, up to you, but keep in mind that your brand should remain consistent and should reinforce what you have already decided you want to achieve.

In general, it is best to avoid regaling your followers with duplicate information or information that comes across as an advertisement. In other words, re-tweeting another professional’s idea doesn’t really count as thought-provoking or engaging. You certainly don’t need to be business all the time – in fact, a few personal postings make you seem more approachable to your readers – but you do need to actively engage your audience by posting or sharing information that starts a conversation.

In addition, always take the time to research information, if needed, as it solidifies your commitment to accurate, trustworthy information. For example, a reader may ask a question regarding CPA licensure requirements for a specific state. Because each state’s requirements vary, it is best to isolate state-specific CPA requirements on Accounting Edu, or a similarly reliable source that details state-by-state requirements. Your readers will appreciate your willingness to defer to these types of resources for the most accurate information available.

It may feel quite foreign at first, but as you grow and develop your personal brand, your posts, blogs and tweets will speak to your expertise as an accountant.

Track it, monitor it, and keep it going.

Your social media activity is only as current and relevant as you make it. You must give it your attention on a regular basis, but you also don’t want it to drain your productivity or impede on your billable day. Make a schedule and stick to it so your efficiency doesn’t suffer. For example, devote the first thirty minutes of your day working your social media platforms.

But all that social media activity isn’t doing you any good unless you are tracking it and paying attention to your business metrics. Keeping track of your social media activities and the result of these activities is a must for ensuring that you are on the right track with regard to your branding goals, and ultimately, your business goals.

Your relevance on social media platforms is directly tied to your activity. Keep your social media profiles current, post regular status updates, and post new information on your blog at least a few times a week. In other words, check in on your social media platforms and offer up something thought-provoking or noteworthy to keep your readers interested and coming back for more.

Sure, you think in numbers, but reaching clients, peers and employers through social media platforms may very well be the driver that will take your career to a whole new level.

Guest Blogger: Tony Smith
tony@accountingedu.org
http://accountingedu.org