3rd January, 2012
Many readers would be aware that Smithink 2020 recently conducted the inaugural Leaders and Laggards Technology Survey of accounting firms. One interesting finding was the number of firms that had a presence on social networking sites. 37% of firms surveyed had a Facebook page, 26% participated in Twitter and 56% had a LinkedIn profile. 53% of firms did not block access to Facebook.
At our recent ATSA 2011 (Accountants Technology Showcase Australia) Conference in Melbourne I was surprised by the number of participants who were carrying iPads. During the event hundreds of tweets were submitted to Twitter.
All of this shows that accountants are starting to embrace social media. Having now embraced it the question now is what to do with it. One aspect of social media is to reveal your knowledge. LinkedIn in particular has various forums on business and tax issues. Participating in these forums is a good way to highlight your knowledge and skills. Often questions are being asked. Responding to these questions again shows your knowledge but also that you are willing to help others.
One aspect of social networking is to highlight articles that me be of interest to others. Tweeting links to interesting articles you have found can again be a help to others and show your understanding of the role of social networking.
Overt marketing is not what it is about. It is about connecting and helping. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t highlight something special your firm is doing and create links to your website. Social media can be an effective way to driving traffic to your website.
Research shows that social media can also heavily influence people’s buying decisions. It is prudent to search social networking sites to look for references to your firm and respond where appropriate. Some firms are searching social networking sites for information on job applicants.
All this indicates that every firm needs a social networking strategy and a social networking policy. A social networking strategy articulates the firm’s plan to embrace social networking and to leverage it for the firm’s benefit. The social networking policy clearly articulates to the team what is allowed and not allowed when people are referring to the firm on social networking sites.
As the next generation enters the workforce it is critical that firms have a plan in place. These people, being the drivers of social networking, should contribute to the plan and assist the firm in ongoing innovation to maximise the potential of this important new media.