Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Accounting Firms and Social Media

"Accounting firms have no business being on social media" 

So ran the advice in this article in the Financial Review  No doubt this was meant to be provocative though it is possible that this is just another article by someone happy to offer an opinion without any knowledge of the subject.

The article does go on to say

"LinkedIn is emerging as another exception. It lets people harness the power of connections." 

In fact Linkedin has been doing this for years. It isn't emerging, it has been doing this for a long time, the only emergence, is that more people are coming out of the dark and  beginning to twig that the invitation to connect on Linkedin that they accepted and then never bothered to complete their profile or learn to use, is now pretty important.

Better late than never, perhaps.

 Another opinion in the article "You need something interesting and relevant to say, and there are only so many tweets on international financial reporting standards you can make interesting." shows clearly that the writer has fallen into the trap of thinking of Twitter and social media generally as being "all about me" and broadcasting a narrow range of self promotional pieces. The test for relevance is not about what is your core product it is about what the community that you are building online will find of interest.

Now it could be that the writer equates "Accountant" with big corporate firms. Yet most businesses will be using a suburban accountant who is a part of the local community and engaged in different ways with the people in their locale. This is where accountants have scope to do more for clients than just pass the work to junior staff and gouge clients with extortionate fees for a so-so service.

So how can an accounting firm or a single accountant use social media in a way that is effective?

Like any business it begins with understanding what purpose you want the social media to perform. Let me suggest that at the outset, by far the biggest advantage of this is to assist the accountant to be more visible, more credible and more aware of the world in which their clients operate too.

We are in a time of incredible change. Reports are on the news daily of more businesses closing and there has never been more need for business owners to be able to be flexible and adapt to compete in the new marketplace. Those who can are doing well, even now. Those who can't will fail. The evidence that there are skills they need to learn to adapt and change are often observed  by the accountant in the first instance.  That is, the accountant is in the prime position to see that, but they need to be paying attention and have the client's interests in mind. Business owners, rightly or wrongly, look to the accountant as the person who will give them a sign if there is something they need to know.  To remain in the dark about the changes that are happening across the marketplace that relate to social media and extend into changes in consumer spending habits, purchasing decisions, operational and customer service issues and more , is no service to your clients.

No Time

Now it may be true to say that many (probably most) accountants, just like their customers, are time poor and not tuned in to the new technology, and like many things that don't get done, if you don't know how to do it, it can be easier to just pretend that it isn't important. Marketing is something else that is often treated this way. Doing nothing is not going to make things go back the way they were. The marketplace has changed and this is the environment that now exists. Getting in touch with that and understanding it is crucial.
What strategy you adopt to deal with it, is another matter and one that needs to be considered after being fully informed and gaining some real understanding of the issues, the opportunities and the traps.

Get Active

How do you tell if your client is deep in need of help in this area? They are sending out newsletters by .pdf ... that's one simple but great indicator!

So let me say this another way. Accountants have no business being on social media without knowing what they are doing.

And you can learn. More easily than you might have thought.

 Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

See also 
Part One: Your Business Blog
Part Three: Blogging For Business: Ideas
Part Two: How Do I Start Blogging For Business?


  1. Great comments Lindy - We aren't accountants, but bookkeepers - yes time is the issue, and it is not quick and easy to be social, relevant and offer content, as well as engage. But as you say, we need to keep active. We prepare the accounts for the accountant - doing the books, training and set up etc - we are beginning a seperate Business Health Review to show clients more that the software does - what do the figures mean and what do i need to do - that is what we see as the need for small business. And we are available socially to provide tips and solutions, and people call us form our site for more assistance - it has taken many months, but slowly we seem to be making an impact!

  2. Thanks for your comment. Bookkeepers play such an important role with small businesses so I am interested in your view particularly.

    Asking the right questions is a big part for small business owners in finding their way through some complex issues that are outside of their core expertise.

    They talk about it taking a village to raise a child, but a small business needs a core of good, competent people around them to help them succeed too.