Number twenty-nine of our weekly interviews in which we discover how real businesses are making Social Media work for them. Please meet Jonathan Russell.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a charted accountant by training, but I have a number of businesses:

  • ReesRussell LLP & ReesRussell Taxation Services Ltd – an accountancy firm with offices in Witney
  • Russell Phillips Ltd – an accountancy firm with offices in Gerrards Cross
  • Chelsea Corporate Ltd – a corporate finance firm which advises on buying and selling businesses
  • Just Accounts and Tax Ltd – an online accountancy
  • CountrySmiths – an online retail site aimed at country life

Jonathan Russell

How do you use Social Media?

I use Social Media differently for each type of business.

Accountancy Firms
LinkedIn is best for my professional businesses.  I don’t think of it as a social media site but as a connectivity site.  I use it to connect with people, share messages and keep in touch with people.

I find Twitter and Facebook to be less pertinent from a professional viewpoint, though I can see their use in keeping the brand seen.

I also find it useful to communicate in industry forums and to be seen to be knowledgeable about an industry.  If I can comment intelligently on your industry, you are more likely to come to me for accountancy advice.  I encourage people across the firms to take part in forums in industries that they know about.

I blog once a month on the UK200 Group – I should blog more regularly!

The retail site is best suited to Twitter and Facebook.  Although when we (or our products) have been involved / mentioned in forums it has led to work.  For example, a Ferret owners forum happened to mention a cage which we sold (we didn’t mention it) and it has led to orders.

I use Facebook extensively for CountrySmiths.  We find it great as a way of engaging with our audience as well as developing brand awareness.  It is important not to sell though.  I get the least engagement when I share a status update about an offer.  I have found if I give an answer to a problem or talk about things to do with rural life, I get the most engagement.  By talking about a particular problem, I might be able to drive my audience down a path to look at my website.  I often get asked what I recommend for a particular problem.  It works best if I recommend things that we don’t sell as well as things we sell.  I want the page to be known as a place to go for information – an advice platform.

Corporate Finance
The only platform that works is LinkedIn.

In General
I spend about 5 hours a week on social media across the businesses.  Facebook is the most time consuming.   The main problem is making sure I post when my audience is watching.

I haven’t found a use for Twitter. I tend to find people are either engaged with Twitter or not and most of my audience aren’t engaged with Twitter (as far as I know).  It feels like it is more relevant when changes are happening in a business or industry and apart from the budget there are not many changes in accountancy!

Can you share a Personal Success Story?

LinkedIn has produced monetary results.  I have had business as a direct result of being on LinkedIn.  I have also had sales from LinkedIn ads – we have yet to see whether the lifetime value of the sale will outweigh the cost of the ad.

I used LinkedIn to quickly find a particular supplier for CountrySmiths.  It only took 45 minutes – considerably less time than using another route.

I have got accountancy clients because I have been involved in forums.

Facebook has been more about brand awareness.  I certainly haven’t had any success from ads, though I did get more followers when I boosted posts.

Can you give our readers a top tip?

Focus – like every other marketing tool, decide what you want out of it and have a strategy.

Contact Information

You can contact Jonathan on LinkedIn, Google+, Rees Russell, ReesRussell Twitter, ReesPhillipsChelsea Corporate, Chelsea Corporate Twitter, Just Accounts and Tax, Countrysmiths, Countrysmiths Twitter, Countrysmiths Facebook,