Ten reasons accountants shun social media
Mark Lee has long recognised that many accountants are just not interested in social media. He asks if their cynicism is justified.
If you have held off joining the social media maelstrom or have determined it’s a damp squib, this article will come as a relief. But I do not intend to simply reinforce your preconceptions. I will challenge them too.
Here are 10 reasons often given by accountants who don’t want to explore social media properly:
- It takes too much time
- You get too much spam
- I prefer real life
- Twitter is twaddle
- I tried it and it doesn’t work
- I don’t want to grow my practice
- It’s not professional
- My clients don’t use it
- It’s over-hyped
- People like me don’t use it
As regular readers will appreciate I am NOT encouraging accountants to shun social media. Far from it.
My objective here is to distinguish the justifiable reasons why some accountants might wisely choose not to bother, from the more fallacious arguments I sometimes hear. I am a big fan of and big user of social media but I’m not an accountant in practice. What matters is what works for other accountants like you.
Thus, the fact that I get value from social media is as irrelevant as the fact that big brands use it, that ‘celebs’ use it or that recruiters and marketing specialists use it. But what about the increasing number of accountants who are active on social media? Let me stress, I am talking here about those who have remained active online after a few months. Many start and then give up – as ‘it didn’t work’.
Each accountant needs to determine for themselves how they can get best value from each of the most popular social media platforms. Much depends on your objectives, goals and plans.
Let’s consider the 10 arguments in turn:
1. It takes too much time
You may be right. If you’re the sort of person who can get sidetracked ‘playing’ it may become an unproductive distraction.
But, if you establish good practices early on and get to tame the beast, you can adopt a range of time-saving facilities. And then, rather than taking up a lot of time, it can save you time overall.
2. You get too much spam
Only if you don’t know what you’re doing. I have more than 5,000 followers on Twitter and more than 3,000 connections on LinkedIn, plus thousands of readers of my blog and of my articles. I get barely any spam. Why should you get so much? Probably only if you follow naïve advice from self-serving social media ‘gurus’.
Driving a car uses too much petrol and is too slow – but only if you try to drive fast while stuck in first gear because you don’t know how the gears work.
3. I prefer real life
Me too. If you have the time to call or meet up with all of your connections, introducers, clients and prospects at least once a week then good luck to you. Social media can enable you to keep in touch with a wide range of contacts and to pre-qualify more prospective clients and introducers in less time than is possible in ‘real life’.
Think of social media simply as a tool to help you arrange your real life interactions. It is a means to an end, not an alternative to ‘real life’.
4. Twitter is twaddle
Only if you choose to follow silly people. I don’t see twaddle as I unfollow anyone who posts nonsense that is of no interest to me.
5. I tried it and it doesn’t work
I offer my driving analogy again. It really helps if you have a decent instructor – or check out relevant advice rather than simply guess or follow naïve advice.
I would also stress that LinkedIn is in a class of its own. This professional business networking tool doesn’t bear comparison with simple social media platforms.
6. I don’t want to grow my practice
What can I say? This seems a perfectly reasonable justification for NOT doing anything new or different. I just hope that you don’t lose a bunch of clients and suddenly need to replace them. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be should it ever happen to you.
7. It’s not professional
Social media is just a tool, like email.
Are you professional? Then you can ensure that whatever you do on social media will be professional too. No one says you have to interact with anyone else whom you consider to be unprofessional.
8. My clients don’t use it
This is a key point or it may simply be an unwarranted assumption. I entirely agree that your marketing and networking activities need to take place where you are most likely to meet your ideal audience.
I’m never sure how many accountants who make this point really know whether their clients are active on LinkedIn or on other social media. In any event, your current clients are just one possible target. You might also be looking to find and pre-qualify prospective new clients, introducers, the local media and suppliers.
9. It’s over-hyped
This is true too. But irrelevant if you understand how each social media platform can help you in your practice.
It’s very important to understand that each social media platform is different in terms of what you can do, who you can reach and who can reach you. Some of the platforms are indeed over-hyped; so what?
Google+ may, one day, become the biggest and most important social media platform for accountants along with everyone else. But it’s not there yet. It has been consistently over-hyped since launch in my view. I still don’t know what it’s ‘for’. Whereas, in my experience, the other key platforms have a distinct nature and purpose. I’m also unconvinced about the value of YouTube to accountants (yet) – but I still post new videos myself – just in case.
10. People like me don’t use it
I suspect this normally translates as – my ‘real’ friends and acquaintances do not use it – or, if they do, they haven’t told me. Sometimes it may mean that you don’t know anyone who uses social media to market their practice or to generate new clients.
I have interacted via social media with many hundreds of accountants of all ages, backgrounds and level of expertise. An increasing percentage are telling me about how they have won new clients or have simply found it fun, entertaining and useful.
When asked I typically suggest that you just start exploring how you can use social media as a time saving route to up-to-date news, insights and information. This is especially true of Twitter.
So which of those 10 reasons resonates with you? Or are there others that have been holding you back?
- Ten things accountants should never do with social media
- Social media action plan for accountancy firms
- Social media: Cynical view from an early adopter
Mark Lee is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB. If you like this article, do check out his BookMarkLee blog and ebooks for accountants who want to better understand and get more value faster from their social media activity. He is also chairman of the Tax Advice Network of independent tax specialists.
You might also be interested in
I am Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - a nighly ranked online resource tfonr anyone seeking indepdent tax advisers. As such it is also a long established lead generation facility for tax advisers and tax accountants.
Before the lockdown I was also speaking at conferences and awaydays for accountants and tax advisers. I had started...