Social Media Efforts Influence Buying Decisions

As professional services companies continue to increase their involvement with social media, the study offers insights into the type of interaction consumers value most, with a majority expecting social media to be an extension of customer service rather than simply an engagement in marketing. The study found that an overwhelming 67 percent of consumers indicated they use a company’s social media site for service, compared with 33 percent for social marketing.

This finding underscores that whether you are in business as a law firm, accounting firm or another professional services firm, the content you share online should provide value to your customers beyond marketing your own practice.

In return, companies are rewarded for their effective use of social media with greatly improved chances of gaining new business. The J.D. Power study found that “among highly-satisfied consumers, 87 percent indicate that the online interaction with a company ‘positively impacted’ their likelihood to purchase from that company.”

Similar studies have found the same to be the case. In the professional services industry, a 2012 Greentarget study found that 76 percent of its respondents find a service provider’s blog to be an important when deciding which firm to retain, and 55 percent of respondents went a step further by indicating that law firm blogs directly influence their hiring decisions.

This is good news for professional services companies.

On the flip side, however, the J.D. Power study also suggested that “poor social media practices can negatively impact a business’ bottom line and brand image,” which is reason to make certain your efforts focus on catering specifically to your clients’ interests. “Consumer expectations for social interactions vary across industries, although quality content and responsive service representatives are keys to higher satisfaction levels,” J.D. Power reported.

For companies that miss the mark in providing content and interaction that is of value to clients, J.D. Power continues, the negative interaction can negatively impact the likelihood those potential clients make a purchase from the company.

With that in mind, professional services firms should consider ways to increase the value of the content they offer through social media platforms. Here are a few, easy ways to get started:

  • Share links to industry media reporting that you would consider “can’t miss” news for your clients;
  • Post expert articles that your members/partners have published in trade journals and magazines that speak to important issues to your clients’ business;
  • Utilize social media to make updates to clients on important changes in law and/or other regulatory decisions that might impact their business;
  • Keep your clients up to speed on important changes to the service you provide as a firm; and
  • Convert other valuable content your firm might have available, i.e. newsletters and client alerts, to blog posts to reach your clients in a new way.
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