Book Review: Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms by Michelle Golden

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Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms
By Michelle Golden

Wiley & Sons, New Jersey, 2010 (hardcover, 348 pages, $45)

Reviewed by Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF

There are many books on the market about social media marketing and social networking for. Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms breaks no new ground. But it is well organized, very thorough, and offers most of what you need all in one place: fundamentals for beginners as well as tips and ideas for experienced bloggers and social networkers like me.As I started reading, I was disappointed about the introductory material. Once I got through the first few chapters, however, I felt the information was much more useful and engaging.

Cohesive Strategy

The center of the book is the most valuable, in my opinion, focusing on how a professional services firm creates a cohesive marketing strategy that includes social media. In my experience, this is what so many firms are lacking. They have people who are excited to use social media tools to promote their firms, but they have no real strategy and no way to track (and improve) their results.

Two principles stand out. First, social media marketing must be an integral part of a firm-wide marketing strategy, rather than a distinct initiative with competing objectives. Second, you need a clear but not overly detailed policy that your staff can follow to avoid careless or offensive use of social media, or worse, liability (not to mention wasting time).

One chapter addresses the business objectives behind social media for professional services, including issues like branding, reputation, trust, and visibility. Again, these are key concerns for professional service firms, and the information provided is valuable.

Less Traffic is More

The most valuable chapter in the books is “Integrated Marketing Tactics.” This leaves all the theory behind, and gets to the meat of how to market online, including tips on building a cohesive marketing strategy, timing of online interactions, and frequency of posting and commenting. The author emphasizes that it’s important not only to monitor the traffic to your website and online content, but also to look at who is visiting, where they are coming from, and what content generates the right kind of traffic. I’d like see even more information on this topic, because it is one that is so often overlooked. People like the idea of getting more traffic to their websites, but often don’t pay enough attention to the type of traffic and whether it can actually generate more paying clients or otherwise help to build business. Sometimes less traffic is better than more, if it’s the right kind of traffic.

A section on how to set up and use the various social networking sites (such as LinkedIn and Facebook) is useful if you’re new to them. If you’ve already been using them for a bit, this section can at least help you fine-tune your profile.

Since blogging has been my single most fruitful online activity in terms of generating business, I was very interested in the chapter on blogs.[1] Golden did not disappoint, carefully walking readers through the many choices you must make before starting your blog—such as setting a professional tone and creating community participation.

Not a Shortcut

Golden correctly emphasizes that social networking is not a shortcut for establishing relationships. It still takes genuine effort to establish rapport and credibility with your connections. Be prepared to make consistent, repeated efforts at using social media. Do not delegate your content creation to a ghostwriter. The main purpose is personal interaction, and you have to participate directly to develop this.

Only one caveat: I disagree strongly with Golden’s premise that “social media can reduce your time, energy, and expense in achieving your marketing objectives.” I have found that my online efforts have not saved me time, they have simply changed what I am doing with my time. However, a book like this will save the reader time in terms of guiding them toward the right social media strategies and activities. Without a guide like this, the average professional will probably waste a lot of time trying to navigate social media.

I found this book to be a very thorough and informative resource for any professional looking to create or expand an online presence. (Disclosure: I am mentioned in the book as an example of a successful blogger.)

About the Author

Golden is a practice management adviser and a senior fellow of VeraSage Institute. She was named by Accounting Today as one of the Ten Most Powerful Women in Accounting (2009) and one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting (2010). Her 25-year career background includes in-house marketing roles in CPA and law firms. Prior to that, Golden was an accountant in the corporate headquarters of two public healthcare companies.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, CFF, is the principal of Sequence Inc., a Milwaukee-based forensic accounting firm. She is the author of Expert Fraud Investigation: A Step-by-Step Guide (Wiley, 2009). She is an experienced blogger and social networker. LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/tracycoenen. #

[1] Editor’s note: See Coenen’s blog, “Fraud Files,” at www.sequenceinc.com/fraudfiles/.

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