Social media is a fairly new phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. There are few people who haven’t jumped on this bandwagon in one form or another. This has created some big opportunities for consultants and some pitfalls that they need to be aware of to make sure that they use it wisely. This week we will discuss social media and how it affects consultants and the consulting industry in general.
How has social media changed consulting?
It’s changed it from many aspects. It allows consultants – whether they’re large multi-national firms or an independent consultant – to get their message out to more people more easily.
Consultants now have outlets that allow them to publish free content and promote it on all of their social media sites. This can be done with an account in the name of the firm and through individual accounts.
For instance, when my consulting firm Geneca publishes a blog, they go out on their own Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media accounts to promote the new article and get the word out to their followers.
They also let our internal team know that it’s out there and many of us promote the blog to our followers on those and some other social media accounts.
From that, the people that we’ve promoted the blog to will read it and, if they like it and want to share it further, they may retweet it or share it through some other form of social media.
It isn’t just for blogs and articles either. A firm can create a video and promote it the same way. If it works to their advantage, the video goes viral and people keep sharing and re-sharing on down the line.
But this marketing approach is just one facet of how social media has affected consulting. Like many other industries, it has really turned consulting on its ear. It has changed the way firms and individual consultants share their information. It’s changed the way prospective clients seek out a consultant.
Let’s just consider the big three in social media. There’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. These are considered the minimum sites a consulting firm should be on.
If a company is considering doing business with a firm, they may start following them on Twitter and LinkedIn and ‘Like’ them on Facebook.
This allows them to kind of monitor or watch the firm to learn more about what they do, how they do it and let’s them decide whether the consulting firm is a good fit for them.
What do consultants need to consider with social media?
Well, it can be a double-edged sword. Social media has created an environment where we have much more public personas. More people are more aware of us and what we do.
The downside is that more people are more aware of us and what we do. This is particularly an issue for individuals. Whether you’re an independent consultant or just an employee of a firm, you want to make sure you’re consistent and credible and that you’re not offensive to a large number of people.
I’ll go back to the example I mentioned a minute ago. If I promote my firm’s blogs and other articles on Twitter, you would hope that that is helpful to the firm.
But if I also used that Twitter account to promote controversial beliefs about politics or maybe sexist or racist views, it could end up hurting my firm’s brand by being guilty by association.
Now the firm, or whoever originates the content, doesn’t have a lot of control over who redistributes their content, but if an individual wants to be considered credible in what they Tweet or distribute via social media, they need to make sure that they are consistent and professional in everything they publish online and that they develop an audience or network that will appreciate the content that you are promoting.
What those things come down to is branding, which we’ve talked about in the past. And it’s something you need to start thinking about as soon as you start social media accounts.
In social media,