Social media is a relatively new marketing tool. With that, comes questions about how accounting professionals can use social media for their practice.
I recently took part in a panel at the EDGE Experience, the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA) career development event for young CPAs, where we discussed the inception of our professional social media strategies and their importance. I was accompanied on the stage by CPAs Rebekah Brown and Chris Ekimoff and panel leader Stacie Saunders, AICPA’s Senior Manager of Social Business.
Saunders started the conversation by remarking most accounting professionals create a social media account for personal reasons, but it isn’t long before the professional benefits become apparent. Here are some of the points we covered about social media strategy in accounting.
Think about the courtroom when developing a strategy
Anything you post on social media is highly visible and will likely be available until the end of time. When developing a social media strategy, Ekimoff said he imagined himself on the stand testifying.
“If someone produces an expert report and is put on the stand to testify, opposing counsel will perform a significant amount of research and review of previous publications, interviews, and reports,” Ekimoff said.
“Along that vein, so too will opposing counsel look into any publicly-available social media postings and videos. When structuring the goal of my social media efforts, I took that idea into account to be sure that I was conducting myself in a professional, defensible manner with every tweet or Facebook message.”
Ekimoff says by keeping the long-term implications of social media use in mind accounting professionals can ensure doors remain open rather than incurring the risk of “potentially painting yourself into a corner”.
Make a difference
Having an active Facebook or Twitter is a great way to position yourself as an industry thought leader, so too is starting a blog and publishing as often as possible. While it may seem like you’re speaking into an empty auditorium, you’d be surprised the reach it can have. Brown said she started a blog series that followed her journey to becoming a CPA.
Not long after, she received an email with a touching message from a student in North Carolina who had read the blog. The student had recently decided to major in accounting.
“[The student] emailed me to thank me, saying it encouraged her to stick with it,” Brown said. “I think that’s when I realized the real power of social media. I talk with a lot of students across Maryland (her home state), but certainly cannot connect with all of them, and had never even dreamed of reaching a student in another state.
“But with social media I can. I can help encourage and develop the future of this great profession, and that is what I am most passionate about.”
Add value for your customers
I was asked what Xero sees as the biggest benefit to having a social media presence. I said, by being engaged with social media we are a part of the conversation with our customers. We can keep an eye on what is happening with our customers and provide an immediate response for urgent questions and provide real-time information they may need for their businesses.
This is certainly something that translates over to accounting firms. Showing that you’re engaging with your customers positions your firm as an engaged and modern practice.