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The dos and don’ts of Twitter for accountants

17th Sep 2009
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Following on from his recent Accountants’ guide to Twitter, Mark Lee discusses how accountants can maximise their effectiveness on the site by following a few simple rules.

When it comes to using Twitter there are no absolute rules or universally agreed twitterquette (that’s Twitter etiquette for the uninitiated). However, there is a lot that we can learn from the experience of those who've gone before.

Based on my experience over the last year and inspired by a variety of guides to using Twitter for business, I’ve collated a top ten list of dos and don’ts for accountants who use Twitter.

The dos

  1. Do be social and interact with your followers and those you follow. Be thought-provoking with some of your tweets and pass on tips and ideas that others may find of interest.
  2. Do retweet (RT) tweets written by other people that you think are worth sharing with your followers. If you want some of your tweets to be retweeted, keep them to nearer 110 characters rather than 140 as the RT element of the message will often be 15-25 characters long.
  3. Do recommend books and articles that you’ve read that may be of interest to your followers.
  4. Do copy behaviour you find that you like on Twitter and avoid replicating behaviour that you dislike. Everyone is different of course but a ‘netiquette’ is developing and worth following.
  5. Do tweet links to your own or your favourite blog posts so that your followers know what you write about or like, and do ensure that you add a few words at least rather than just posting a link without any description.
  6. Do use an application like Tweetdeck on your computer to filter topics, create groups, and maximize your time on Twitter.
  7. Do use an application on your iPhone or BlackBerry to enable you to use Twitter in odd moments when you're away from your desk/office.
  8. Do remember that your followers may have friends, followers or family who could be looking for a new accountant, even if your followers seem unlikely to do so. They may retweet your messages or simply talk about you if the subject comes up.
  9. Do respond when people engage you in conversation. If you want to reply publicly use the @ sign at the start of your tweet (e.g. @bookmarklee). If you want to reply privately and directly use D before the other person's user name: (e.g. D bookmarklee).
  10. Do engage the people you follow or who follow you in conversation shortly after you connect. Ask them a question, or enquire about something they’ve tweeted, and they’ll be more likely to follow you back.

The don’ts

  1. Don't attempt to use the main Twitter website once you've registered, added a photo and your bio. The main Twitter website is not user friendly and will turn you off very quickly. Download an application like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or Seismic to your computer and you'll find it all gets much easier.
  2. Don’t feel compelled to answer the basic Twitter question ‘what are you doing?’ – especially if the answer is something mundane. It’s better to imagine the invitation is to answer the question: ‘What is holding your attention right now?’
  3. Don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you or chase hundreds of followers.  If you do this you will attract spammers, marketing 'gurus', social media specialists, loners and losers. None of them will be prospective clients or advocates. They probably won't even read any of your tweets. They will simply follow you in the hope that you’ll follow back and increase their numbers - and that is a mug’s game that many Twitter virgins play, although it serves no useful purpose.
  4. Don’t think you need to read everything on your Twitter feed. Think of it as a river. Jump in-stream, participate, and then get out. Never worry about what you’ve missed – it doesn’t work that way.
  5. Don't assume that all of your followers will see all of your tweets. They only dip in and out - just like you do.
  6. Don’t set up a standard message to auto-welcome new followers – they won’t click on your links and established Twitter users don’t like them.
  7. Despite the fact that you may be using Twitter as a marketing tool, don’t try to solicit business or make sales. It looks spammy, and will not secure you new clients. The bottom line is that you will generate enquiries only if your followers get to know and like you, and also if they know you're an accountant and that you like your work.
  8. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to be quoted in the press.  Once published, all your tweets are there for posterity and you don’t want any of them to come back to haunt you.
  9. It should go without saying, but don’t tweet anything about a client without explicit permission. Along the same lines, even if it’s good or exciting news about the client, don’t assume that the client has already made it public. Even if it is public, you may still want to get permission first.
  10. Don’t expect to ‘get’ Twitter straight away. Apparently 60% of people who try to use Twitter give up within three months. I suspect many accountants will be the same.

 What do you think? Do you agree or disagree or have further tips to share? Please leave a comment with your own ideas and suggestions.

So far, I’ve only described what Twitter is and how you can use it. You may wish to know why you might choose to do so, what you can do with Twitter and how some accountants are benefitting from using Twitter. If you would like to see an article on developing a Twitter strategy for accountants, please leave your comments below and let us know.

Mark Lee is chairman of the Tax Advice Network and consultant practice editor for Learn more about Mark's approach to Twitter on his Ambitious Accountants blog.


Replies (14)

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By Jen87
18th Sep 2009 14:04

Twitter strategy for accountants

I would like to see an article on developing a Twitter strategy for accountants.


Thank you

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By Jon Wilcox
18th Sep 2009 14:55

Twitter usage for accountants

Hi Jen87,

Thanks for the heads up - I'll speak with the Twitterati here at Sift Media and see what we can come up with!


Jon Wilcox
Technology corresopndent

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By Anonymous
19th Sep 2009 13:28

Twitter For Accountants

Thanks Mark for this, its a great list of Do's and Don'ts.

I have been keeping a page on our blog which is my personal experience in Social Media Marketing, which includes Twitter, you can see this here . I am certainly no expert when it comes to marketing but I do take our activities seriously and personally have enjoyed how our strategy has changed since February 2009 when I originally started the strategy.

I hope its of some use, and I look forward to seeing more articles on developing  Social Media Marketing strategy for accountants, its new and exciting stuff, and for me it does lead to real results !


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David Winch
By David Winch
22nd Sep 2009 16:04

Short website address

On a related topic, my website address is but I have created a much shorter link to the address as

Address shortening is free and potentially useful (not just on Twitter).


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By klmanagement
23rd Sep 2009 04:46

I'd like to add another..

Thank you for providing very useful tips.

However, there's one thing I'd recommend putting it (or rephrasing) in the DOS' section.

"Don't get to obsessed with work - Remember finance and accounting can be a boring subject sometimes."
And I just said it on Twitter moments ago.

-- KL Management Services (NF0279) is a Chartered Accountant firm in Malaysia, and is one of the only three (3) firms in Malaysia qualified and connected enough to provide full-fledged CFO services from large multinationals t

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By chrischapman5
24th Sep 2009 12:32

Do's and dont's for Accountants?

I must admit I had expected some unique insight into why this guidance was useful specifically for accountants, but it strikes me that you could reuse this material and just insert 'lawyers', or 'recruiters' etc into the accountants field and it would just read the same, which is probably exactly your intention.

So, all good general basic tips but not what I expected from the title.

I'm keen to explore how social media sites/networks can help develop business for my business, but havent explored it too hard yet.

catch me on twitter @soprisaccounts


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Dennis Howlett
By dahowlett
24th Sep 2009 14:55


Mark's lists are good cookie cutter stuff but as others have said, provide little by way of insight. The big mistake I see over and over is the incessant self pimping or what I call 'floghorning'. It doesn't work, it [***] people off. More important - remember we live in a place called Nobody Cares: pop 6 billion.

As with blogs the best I can say is BE YOU and send people away with links to things of interest. Show your human-ness. Everything else is fluff and puff.

As for a Twitter strategy - that's a bit like saying let's have a phone/email strategy.  

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
24th Sep 2009 17:10

For what it's worth

I accept the observations made above and would stress that my view remains that accountants don't need to play with tiwtter. If they nevertheless want to do so then I have offered a summary of key points that I think are most relevant to them. And I haven't suggested the list is anything different to that. Nor do I think it should be.

If I write a third piece it would be based on what I see, read and hear about how accountants and others (generally outside the UK) are using twitter. It would be necessarily speculative as to how accountants in practice in the UK COULD benefit from their use of twitter. And how they could use it to build their brand and business - in the longer term. I don't think there's a real appetite for this (yet) - although I note that Jen87 has requested this above.

The accountants in practice here who are already using twitter are not yet generating much in the way of work - it's a long game. A few have built up big followings and some have picked up a few clients. Most are simply experimenting. Will it be worthwhile? Time will tell.  

As regards developing a twitter strategy I agree there is no NEED for such an article or advice. However I disagree with Dennis as to why that is the case.

Twitter is a new communication medium so I understand why Dennis likens it to the phone and email. The better comparsion though when considering twitter is with cold calling and direct (e)mail campaigns. It's not only what you say or do using each of these different communication media that matters. It is also HOW you use them. Some accountants' experiment without first exploring what is or is not likely to be an effective strategy. And that's fine. It's how I started with twitter too. There is no doubt in my mind though that adopting a plan or a strategy as to how to get maximum value from such activity is the better approach. The same is true of cold calling and direct (e)mail as I hope the following examples show:

1) You could do cold calling yourself or you could outsource it to telemarketeers. Some arguably strategic questions then arise: Do they simply make one off calls? Is there any follow up? How many 'touches' do you aim to have before giving up?

2) Some accountants judge the success of email campaigns by the response they receive to a one-off letter/email. Others will follow up direct (e)mail campaigns with phone calls or adopt a atrategy of sending emails every month or so.

Some accountants evidently adopt a strategic approach to the time and effort they devote to communications with non-clients.  Twitter can be considered in the same way. Which is why I have offered to supply such an article. Feedback to date suggests that there is little interest in this - and I'm not surprised. It would be premature. Most accountants are content, for the moment, to simply experiment with twitter - as most people do.


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Dennis Howlett
By dahowlett
25th Sep 2009 14:39

Oh dear

@mark: you seem to be conflating communications with marketing - they are different. You say: "The better comparsion though when considering twitter is with cold calling and direct (e)mail campaigns." But if the only way you see Twitter is as an extension of your marketing efforts then it is hardly surprising there is little interest. The feedback results are pretty much instantaneous. People don't want yet another floghorning channel. Why else do you think Tivo is so popular in the US?

Professionals - along with marketers - need to reboot their thinking around communications.

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
25th Sep 2009 14:54

I agree in principle

The point though is that UK accountants don't NEED to be using twitter for business. If they want to experiment and play - that's fine. Personally I don't see twitter as having longevity simply as a playground as people get bored and will move on to the next new toy/devlopment.

Accountants in practice have enough to do without devoting time to non-business activities. If there's little interest in twitter as a business tool there's even less in it as a non-business tool.

In my articles here I was asked to focus on how 'accountants in practice' can use twitter. To me this means thinking about twitter as an extension of their marketing strategy as that's the only reason they are likely to want to devote any time to it - and if I were in practice I would be the same; ie: to use it with a business purpose in mind. The alternative is to simply play around - which is a perfectly fine approach too.



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Dennis Howlett
By dahowlett
25th Sep 2009 15:08

More agreed than disagreed

On longevity as currently used then probably right. Perhaps the expermientation has to be done by peeps like me/thee to figure the sweet spot?

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By chrischapman5
25th Sep 2009 16:07

Twitter for accountants? I dont think so

I think I'm kind of agreeing with both of you, but let me extend my thoughts and I'd encourage any other creative ideas or input.

I dont think that Twitter will become effective as a marketing tool for Accountants, certainly for the more traditional types of services. I do see uses for twitter for other types of businesses, but the fundamentals of the tool around social interaction etc mean that you need to have something to talk about to draw followers. As exciting, stimulating and gregarious as some of us beanies are (!), when it comes down to the business we're in, it ain't exactly sexy. I struggle to see how people are going to be interested in accounting and related services on a site like Twitter. Give them some sexy new technology to talk about, a new apple API, cool gizmo's, an event, conference, interesting announcements and all kinds of other activities then people will notice and thats great.

The key question/challenge as far as I'm concerned is 'how can I make what I do sound exciting'? If it sounds cool, people on twitter might take notice. If it doesn't, you're wasting your time.

I act as FD/CFO for several small technology (and some non-tech) companies and I can use it to talk about the cool stuff that they're doing, which is interesting for some folks. Maybe that could underline my credibility as being involved with some 'cool' companies, which might lead to people to contact me to do the same for their 'cool' company, even though the services that I provide aren't 'cool'. Mind you, I havent really tried much of that yet to see if it works, but have toyed with it a little in talking about companies like where I'm a Non-Exec Director. I get some followers but I don't post much. Maybe I should persevere...? you tell me.

My company also provides accounting services, bookkeeping, payroll etc to small companies, but you can't talk about that stuf on Twitter cos it makes people yawn. If people need an accountant they'll ask friends for a referral or google 'accountants in Cambridge' or something.

Extending some of the above some more, getting followers is one thing, but converting followers into suspects into prospects into customers is a whole other ball game.... and in my experience many people only follow you so that you reciprocate and follow them back, not because they're actually interested in what you've got to say.

@soprisaccounts to follow me and tell me what you think!

Any other thoughts?



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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
19th Oct 2014 12:58


Great contribution to the discussion. Thanks for that. I'm not sure though that I agree that any of us have to make what we do in business (or as an accountant) interesting. And in this respect i agree with Dennis. YOU as an individual have to be interesting. That means sharing ideas, links, tips, comments and feedback more generally through twitter and NOT trying to push your business (or your accountancy services).

Interestingly I see a number of accountants on twitter who only post links to their own blog posts about tax savings.  In effect they are simply posting adverts. They are not engaging with others on twitter and may even have automated the process. Some of them will have high numbes of followers as they are automatically following back all of the spammers who follow them. It looks good but ask them whether they are securing any work or developing relationships with people who may advocate them in the future or use their services and you get a different picture.  When I ask them I find the answer is 'not yet'. It's a very slow process.


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By ackenting
29th Aug 2015 17:29

Twitter/Social Media

Hi Guys,

Great article. Been searching for articles on social media marketing and i bumped into this article. I am quite late to the article here. 

Anyone running accounting firm has experience using twitter to engage with their clients or potential clients to share?

We are running our accounting firm in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, our website at for more info about us.



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