By Kathy O'Connell, CPA Site Solutions
Accountants are getting more savvy about technology. From CPA websites to smartphones to email marketing . . . CPAs know they need to keep up with the latest trends in marketing.
But what about Twitter? Some say the social media site is just a passing fad - but should accountants sit up and take notice?
I think the answer is a resounding "Yes!"
Twitter might not get you new clients directly - but it helps you strengthen your network, learn about your clients, and build up your expertise. Valuable benefits indeed.
Twitter - Not Just for Friends Anymore
Since its creation in 2006, Twitter.com has ballooned to an estimated 145 million users and 90 million tweets per day. This micro-blogging program is a favorite for folks who love to share their daily comings and goings with their friends in 140 characters or less.
But it's also increasingly important for businesses to have a presence on Twitter. Twitter 101 tells us how businesses large and small - from hometown merchants to national brands - can connect with their customers on this platform.
And it goes beyond engaging customers. Twitter is about having conversations with partners and other industry players. It's about building a broad network. It's about keeping abreast of the latest news and trends - learning what folks are saying within your industry and about your industry.
What's not to love about that for any businessperson - accountants included?
A CPA Weighs In
Michael Sciortino, CPA has been using Twitter for almost a year. When asked why, he explained, "[Potential clients] don't go to the phonebook anymore to learn about a business. I wanted to be accessible to anyone who wanted to learn more about my practice."
Sciortino tweets regularly - about 5 or 6 times a day. He uses the stock content on his website from CPA Site Solutions to create a steady stream of relevant tweets:
"I started tweeting links to articles on topics - retirement, getting married, needing financial advice. . . . As much as I like to write things, there's only so much time in the day. To have content already there, at your disposal . . . I'd be unwise not to tweet it."
Sciortino thinks of Twitter as part of his long-term marketing strategy:
"With repetitive posts, you get your face in front of potential clients. They may not use you as a CPA this year, but maybe next year or the year after, something changes and they think 'Who will I go to?' and your name's already in their head."
Tips on Effective Tweeting
An article in WebCPA, "Social Media Helps Accountants Enhance Visibility," provides several tips on how to use your Twitter account effectively - to which I've added some additional thoughts:
Follow folks in your general field. But don't follow just anyone. You want your list of followed tweeters to be "clean" - fellow accountant and financial professionals and others who contribute to the conversation. This isn't a competition to get the most followers; it's a way to build up your professional network.
Be polite and friendly. But don't share lots of personal details. Remember, this is a professional gathering, even though you may be tweeting from the comfort of your couch!
Retweet. Repost tweets that you find especially valuable so your followers can get the benefit. Believe me, they'll appreciate it. Plus, retweeting gets more exposure and possibly more followers for the original user - which wins you friends in the Twitter tribe. The more friends, the more followers, and the more value you get from your social media presence.
Listen to the conversation. Use Twitter search to learn what folks are saying about CPAs, taxes, and the finance industry. You can type in the regular word ("accounting") or use a hashtag ("#CPAs").
The Best Way to Get Started
Sciortino acknowledges that it can be intimidating to take your first steps in social media. His advice is to just get in there. He says, "Social media sites are getting easier and easier every day - they're making them more user friendly."
And the time is now. Sciortino points out, "As people's client base start to age and they pick up younger clients, the younger generations are more apt to use the Internet and social media."
So take Sciortino's advice and jump in. It's not only fun - it's also smart business.
Kathy O'Connell, CPA, works for CPA Site Solutions, the company she founded with her husband, Brian O'Connell, in 1999. CPA Site Solutions provides websites for accountants, along with online tools such as a Client Portal, a monthly emailed newsletter, Online Payroll and Bookkeeping, and more. She lives in Charlotte, VT, with her husband and two children.
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