Case study: haysmacintyre accountants and social media

Posted on: July 4, 2011

Almost two years ago, haysmacintyre (a 24 partner accountancy practice providing audit, tax, corporate finance and other services from central London offices) embarked upon integrating social media into its corporate marketing campaign.

The firm was (and remains) a leader in the not for profit sector and had an active programme of newsletters, seminars, sponsorship and other traditional marketing activities which were successful. However, it’s work in the various corporate markets was less well known so a campaign was designed with a number of specific awareness and revenue generating objectives.

The first process was to educate the Board and then all the fee-earners on the ideas behind social media and the campaign. A number of key “champions” were identified in the fashion, pubs and hotels, corporate finance, VAT and technology services fields. Once policies were put in place – with the help of the HR team – desk side training and copywriting support was provided to the champions. Meanwhile, the rest of the firm (partners first and then other fee-earners) were given www.yammer.com to use for internal communications. This system is free and works pretty much the same as www.twitter.com – 140 character messages, online dialogues etc – and allowed people to experiment with the medium in the safe, internal environment.

The web design company were briefed to develop a tailor made blogging system that would allow a central blog system to show all blogs in date order, but also to allow users to select blogs for a particular topic (arts sector, corporate finance, haysmacintyre developments, fashion sector, VAT, technology services etc) as well as for particular partners. The blogging system also integrated into the main web site – so relevant posts could be shown on pages relating to that subject and that the posts for particular partners appeared on their biographies.

There was also an initiative to encourage the use of LinkedIn – particularly for those fee-earners who had a heavy involvement with the international alliance – MSI – and “model” profiles were developed and, again, a few “champion” partners were identified to lead the way in this area. Where partners had LinkedIn profiles, links were provided from their web site biography pages. Similarly, their LinkedIn profiles had links to the firm’s web site and biography pages to support the SEO (search engine optimisation) results.

The firm set up a Twitter account which was run by the central marketing team. But the “champions” were also encouraged to set up Twitter accounts. And all those with LinkedIn profiles were encouraged to link to the firm or individual Twitter accounts so that tweets appeared in their profiles. Where specialist partners tweets had relevance they were retweeted by the firm’s central account and vice versa. So by the time that the blogs were launched – just before the Government’s budget announcements – there were already a number of followers across the various Twitter accounts so information and opinion about the budgets was distributed across a much broader range of channels than before. There was also at least one blog from every partner and on every topic.

Quickly we found that blogging partners’ awareness was increased and some were invited to contribute to leading blogs in their sector (e.g. fashion market). Some of the technology related clients also noted the firm’s presence in the social networks and contributed comments to particular blog posts of interest. Web site traffic to key areas increased and the firm’s traditional events and newsletters were channelled – where appropriate – through social media channels. The active partners integrated social media into their day to day client relationship and business development activities using LinkedIn and Twitter to connect to people on-line where they had met them in real time and vice versa. Awareness, positioning and contact objectives were achieved.

The early success of the campaign won haysmacintyre a short list in the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Excellence Awards – incredible considering that the only cash outlay was for the development of the blogging system. Although everyone recognised the huge time input required by the central marketing team and the champion partners.

The firm’s VAT partner – Graham Elliott – who had previously written in property and charity magazines, recently won the “Tax writer of the year” award – partly as a result of his increased awareness and regular contributions through his blog.

(Thanks to haysmacintyre www.haysmacintyre.com for permission to publish)

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