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Exploring the Social Media Frontier

Exploring the Social Media Frontier

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A primer on social networking for CPAs and other accountants -- written by a CPA. A great place to start for those wary of jumping into the social media fire. From Disclosures, January/February 2010, Virginia Society of CPAs, www.vscpa.com
A primer on social networking for CPAs and other accountants -- written by a CPA. A great place to start for those wary of jumping into the social media fire. From Disclosures, January/February 2010, Virginia Society of CPAs, www.vscpa.com

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Published by: Jill Edmonds, Communications Director on Jan 19, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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• Disclosures • January/February
ave you been tweeted enough to nally get linkedin? BTW, r u on FB yet?Seems like just yesterday when Tom Hanks andMeg Ryan championed the concept o what it means when“You’ve Got Mail,” and only yesterday when Outlook syncedwith the Apple iPhone. Although the movie was released in1998, in the ast-paced world o 2009, we now have “socialmedia.”Relationships are built upon personal contact and con-dence. Social media is an extension o that relationship and,i used, oers numerous opportunities or CPA rms andrespective client relationships.Public accounting rms can lead their businesses andclients into the next generation o communication by usingsocial media to bring a ace to their rm, personalize theCPA-client contact and provide a media orum or discus-sion, dialogue and eedback. CPAs in business and industrycan use social media to network, connect with current andpast colleagues, nd a job and more.
What is social media?
As dened by Wikipedia (a ree online dictionary), socialmedia is a term “used to describe media which are ormedmainly by the public as a group, in a social way, rather thanmedia produced by journalists, editors and media conglom-erates.”In essence, social media is about people connecting withpeople without actually having a ace-to-ace meeting ortelephone conversation. It’s about bringing groups withsimilar interests together over the Internet — and it is theway a younger generation communicates.When was the last time you looked at the yellow pages tohave your garage repaired? Social media connections allowusers to more narrowly ocus inormation. More traditional“push/broadcast” communications mass market to all groupsto catch a ew who may be interested. Social media is likea lter or “junk” mail, where users have control over theirconnections.Dialogue, text messaging, globalized group orums
By Cheri G. David, CPA, CVA
ExploringThe NewSocial Media Frontier
Opportunities abound for CPAs
• Disclosures •
expressing opinions and sound bytes now oer more to ageneration o people with the attention span or only 140characters. Some o those popular social media orums in-clude Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr,YouTube and some less amiliar names such as Mixi, Orkut,iLike, LivingSocial and Sagazone.
Growth by the Millions
Social media, although relatively new, has been growingollowers at an explosive rate since 2006. On January 7, 2009,Facebook (known as FB in shorthand) reached 150 millionworldwide users and now boasts 350 million users. I Facebook were a country, it would be the ourth mostpopulated in the world.Twitter, a micro-blogging site, is growingtoo. According to James Norris at Mashable, anonline social media guide, in April 2009 Twit-ter was “growing at a mind- boggling 2,565 percent.In total, it reached more than 13 million people in the U.S.during that month.”
Social media is mainstream
Trying to keep up with the continuous changes in socialmedia is mind boggling and may have you eeling like a neo-phyte who just landed in the blog zone. Don’t be a dinosaurand get let behind!As a CPA, you are expected by your clients to stay apprisedo the latest developments. Did you know that the InternalRevenue Service (IRS) recently published Issue Number2009-076, wherein the 2009 tax provisions o theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act arenow available on YouTube and iTunes as away to reach out to taxpayers? I the IRScan better serve taxpayers, then CPAs can better serve their clients using the samearsenal o availablesocial media.
• Disclosures • January/February
An action plan or using that media mayinclude posting the latest tax legislationhappenings on your site as a blog or linkingthe legislative discussions on LinkedIn orFacebook. Creativity is what drives socialmedia to be viral. The more creative andinteresting your post is, the more peoplewill read it, orward it and discuss it.
Test the waters
It’s time to become a an, watch web-casts and ollow someone on Twitter.The VSCPA now has group pagesin Facebook and LinkedIn, and tweetsregularly rom its Twitter account,VSCPANews (see page 21). Even the
 Journal of Accountancy 
has joined these socialmedia platorms.The rst step is to create your accountand to begin using social media sites. Byparticipating, ollowing or becoming aan o other sites, you can gain an under-standing o social media unctions. Aterollowing other organizations, you canthen begin to add and create your ownpersonalized posts. Just like learning how to read the taxcode takes time, so does learning how touse social media. Although social ace-to-ace networking can never be replaced bysocial media, your time allocated to thatnetworking should now include time orsocial media.For example, i you used to spend onehour a day on networking, now spend15 minutes a day on social media and 45on social networking. As social mediacontinues to take hold, so will your timeallocation.Tweet your daily happenings or postlinks to business- or tax-related articleson Facebook. Remember to make yourposts interesting and personal enough thatthey tell others who you are and what yourrm represents. I you make your socialmedia all about business, no one will beinterested in reading your posts. Learningthat you recently saw your daughter or songraduate rom college or that you recentlywent on a great hike on the AppalachianTrail is interesting and could spark up alively social media dialogue between you,your riends, your clients or colleaguesrom across the country!CPAs are busy proessionals assistingclients, managing workfow, employees,etc., but managing the uture o your busi-ness is critical as well. I the relationshipsare now ormed, but ormed in cyber-space, a rm is either going to jump on board or be let behind. The CPA-clientrelationship will always be predicated uponpersonal interaction, and social media isa part o that personal touch. It also canprovide authentic unobtrusive interactionwithout pushing to uninterested parties.Those who want to see what you are upto can, and those who are not interesteddo not have to.BTW (that is “by the way” in text talk),did you know that almost everyone under35 uses social networks? CPA rms arealways looking or new and young talentto join their teams. As almost all upcom-ing accounting graduates actively use so-cial media, the best way to reach them isthrough their styles o communication.The next time a position is available,reach out to the new young talent and postthe job opportunity as a tweet on Twitteror on Facebook, LinkedIn or rm blognews. Gone are the days o “wanted” adsin the local newspaper. Now social mediais a growing avenue to post and targetthat talent.
A forum for feedbackand posting etiquette
Traditional published media is a per-manent printed record. The dierence isthat oten eedback o that printed mediacan take weeks, months and sometimesyears. Social media, on the other hand, isviral and will provide instant results andinstant eedback.Social media connects generations,across state and country lines, and into thecrevasses o the world. A Twitter eed thatincludes the words “tax” can instantly betracked by any worldwide user ollowingthe subject o “tax.” How’s that or cross–marketing?!Though CPAs can reap the benets o the speed and eciency o posting data oropinion, it can also come with complexlegal concerns and sta restrictions, andcould damage a rm’s reputation withone derogatory client comment or nega-tive post. It is important to be mindul o who is and/or may be reading your posts. Just as certain discussions in social ace-to-ace networking are taboo, so goes theetiquette o social media.Drat a policy that addresses the use o 
The frst step isto create youraccount and tobegin using socialmedia sites. Byparticipating,ollowing orbecoming a ano other sites,you can gain anunderstandingo social mediaunctions.

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