Get Social Now — Unlock the Power of Social Media
What is “social media” anyway?
Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social
interaction and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. But most importantly, the key to
unlocking the power of social media is realizing it’s NOT about TECHNOLOGY, it’s about PEOPLE and
Why should you care?
Everybody’s doing it:
• More than 75% of all Americans have joined a social networking site.
• 99% of 18 to 24-year-olds are on a social networking site.
• 150 million people worldwide actively use Facebook, and almost half use it every day.
• If Facebook were its own country, it would be the 8th most populated in the world — ahead of
Japan and Russia.
• LinkedIn averages a new member every second.
• Twitter’s growth rate in 2008 was 752%.
• There are now more than 200 million blogs.
• 77% of active Internet users read blogs.
Getting started is easy.
• Immerse yourself in conversations
• Visit social sites to observe
• Ask your coworkers, kids who…
• Remember it’s a dialogue not a monologue
• Set up a profile – LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com / Facebook: www.facebook.com / Twitter:
• Friend 25 people you know
• Begin to converse
Follow traffic signs
• Edit privacy settings to customize what the public and your 'Friend' lists can see about you
(professional v. personal). Create friend groups.
• Once you’re riding the social media highway, remember to obey common communications
• Obey or set company guidelines for participation
Connect with the VSCPA!
• Web: www.vscpa.com
• Blog: www.CPACafe.com
• LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com and search for “Virginia Society of CPAs”
• Facebook: www.facebook.com and search for “Virginia Society of CPAs”
• Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/vscpa
• Twitter: www.twitter.com/VSCPANews (@VSCPANews), www.twitter.com/FinancialFit
Getting Started in the World of Social Media
By Brian Swanson
As a new or young accountant there are a number of responsibilities and challenges on your plate. Much
of your time is dedicated to training on regulations (such as GAAP, tax codes, etc), internal firm
processes, the studying for the CPA exam, CPE courses if you are credentialed, not to mention the day-
to-day tasks associated with client service and delivery.
And you still need to consider how you will develop your professional network.
As you know, services like accounting, auditing and tax work are relationship driven. The stronger the
relationship the more likely they are to turn to you when an issue or opportunity arises. As a result, the
challenge as you progress through your career is to meet and build strong relationships with clients,
prospects and referral partners.
It’s a straightforward strategy that seems easy enough, but is it? How are you going to manage all the
responsibilities of your position while finding additional time to spend on network development? In the
past, network development focused on being active in community organizations, associations and other
groups. This required time outside of the office meeting people, establishing and nurturing relationships
and building trust. Only once trust was established would the contact share the details about professional
issues, challenges and opportunities. This was a very time intensive process that has to be repeated over
and over again with every contact. The task of building and maintaining a professional network to a lot of
energy and required a high level of hands on care.
The emergence of social media has transformed all that.
While you will always have to spend time going out and meeting new people at events and other
programs, there has been a change in the way relationships are developed. Social media programs have
created a process where interactions occur in real time and the entire process of relationship
development can be quickly increased. These changes are good news for young accountants as these
tools will allow them to develop relationships and create connections in ways their predecessor could not
have imagined just 10 years ago.
Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are wonderful tools to drive network and relationship
development efforts. There are a number of ways to meet new people, learn about their interests, share
relevant information and ultimately develop a meaningful relationship. They are also applications which
can be used to make the process more efficient and effective.
The challenge is understanding the most effective way to use these social media tools for relationship
and network development. With so many social media tools to pick from it is difficult to know where to
invest your time and what activities will yield the highest return. It can be a time-consuming task figuring
out the best way to use these sites. As a result, outlined below are four steps to get you started in the
world of social media:
Develop an information-rich profile.
No matter what tools you decide to use, do this. Simply providing basic information about your firm,
position and where you went to school is too basic. All too often there are professionals using these
services that spend a minimal amount of time on profile development. They offer basic information about
themselves but don’t personalize it. This puts them at a disadvantage because there is not enough
information for others to decide if they would be appropriate in or add value to their network. As a result,
they are often not given careful consideration and potential opportunities are missed. To avoid this add as
much information as possible about yourself. If you have have written articles, developed presentations or
are involved in professional activities or events let people know. The trick is to keep it professional. Avoid
including very personal details about your life or what you did last weekend. This is not an appropriate
Source: WebCPA, www.webcpa.com/acto_news/51153-1.html
July 28, 2009
forum for that information. Focus on professional interests that others might be able to relate to. If you are
an auditor who is interested in IFRS, GAAP changes, the most recent FASB pronouncement or other
issues make sure you add that information to your profile. The more people can learn about you the
greater the chances you will have something in common. The commonality will drive interest in you and
Build your network.
Once your profile is complete it can be discouraging if at first you have a few connections. When
launching your network focus on ”real life” professional relationships you already have. Whether this is
just the professionals in your office or existing client relationships, seek them out and add them as a
connection. This will not only allow you to build your online network, but also provide access to what
groups and activities your peers and clients are involved in. To maintain inertia whenever you meet
someone new find if they have a Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. If so, obtain permission to add them as a
connection. This will help to build your network, allow you to learn more about them, and provide another
avenue of communication for relationship development. There is a large amount of information available
that you might not have otherwise discovered from the brief meeting you initially had with the contact.
Join online groups.
There are a number of interest groups in both LinkedIn and Facebook where professionals with common
interests come together. The options include professional development, networking and charity/special
interest groups. A few examples of professional development groups include the Employee Benefit Plan,
Audit Quality Control Center group, Governmental Audit Quality Center, Young CPA Network, and CPA
Exam Candidates. There are also a number of young professionals groups including Detroit Young
Professionals, Denver Young Professionals and Chicago Young Professionals. You can also join industry
focused groups such as the Texas and Chicago Construction Groups. In addition to joining the groups
that most appeal to you, determine which of the groups your network members belong that are
appropriate for you to join as well. This will allow you not only to stay current on the topics and issues
important to you, but also open the door to the issues and topics relevant to your network members.
Like most things in life what you put into this is what you will get out of it. If you don’t spend much time
with Facebook or LinkedIn it is unlikely you will realize a meaningful return. There are a number of
accounting professionals who use these tools and don’t participate beyond a few comments or discussion
topics. They are likely getting very little out of social media and are missing crucial growth opportunities.
This may seem like just another demand on your time but it is a worthwhile task. Every post, piece of
information or conversation you join the more exposure and credibility you are building with members of
online groups and your network. To make it easier, schedule some time every day or every other day to
interact with your network. This does not have to be a time consuming task but it does make sense to
spend 90 minutes a week diving into content, and interacting with members of your network. The more
you interact the more others will interact with you. This is the key to the entire process interaction,
engagement and discussion.
The value of all of these activities is that it will strategically position you with colleagues, prospects, clients
and potential referral partners. It will keep you in front of them and aware of their interests, challenges
and ongoing concerns. As a result, you will have access to critical information that can help develop the
relationship while positioning you and your firm as a potential solution provider.
While the task of network development and relationship building still requires you to leave the office and
spend time at events, social media can help you accelerate the time it takes to develop these
relationships. The opportunity it provides to learn about your network, develop a repertoire and position
yourself as possible solution provider is unmatched. As you progress through your career in accounting
invest time in social media. It will not only help build your network but it will serve as a critical relationship
Brian Swanson is a partner with Flashpoint Marketing- http://www.flashpointmarketing.biz His firm
specializes in providing business development strategies and practical marketing solutions for CPA firms.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: WebCPA, www.webcpa.com/acto_news/51153-1.html
July 28, 2009
VSCPA Twitter Training
Through its website, www.vscpa.com, the VSCPA strives to become Virginia’s premier destination for
accounting and business news, information resources and services. Another important function of the site
is to connect members.
As part of this vision, the VSCPA uses various media through the website to deliver news and information
to VSCPA membership and the public at large while connecting members across the Commonwealth.
To receive messages on Twitter, you follow other people and companies you’re interested in—which
means you get their messages as they post (put another way, their messages show up in your incoming
timeline on your Twitter home page). Conversely, people get your messages by following you.
Users refer to an individual message as a tweet, as in, “Check out this tweet about our CEO dancing on
the sidelines of the Phoenix Suns game.” People sometimes use it as a verb, too, as in, “I tweeted about
the stimulus package this morning.” If “tweet” is hard for you to use with a straight face in a business
context, try “twittering” as a verb instead. Alternatives include “post,” “message” and “update.”
For companies, one of the most useful things about Twitter is that it lets you exchange public messages
with individual users. Simply start a message with @username of the person you want to reach, like this:
“@Ev Glad you liked our vegan cookies. Thanks for twittering about ‘em!”
If Ev is following your account, your message will appear directly on his Twitter home page. (If he’s not
following your account, your message will appear in his folder of @username mentions.) People who are
following both you and Ev will also see the message on their Twitter home page. Finally, the message will
appear in search results, and people who come to your Twitter home page will see it among the
messages in your outgoing timeline.
Tip: On Twitter, @username automatically becomes a link to that person’s account—helping people
discover each other on the system. Put another way: when you see an @username, you can always click
through to that person’s Twitter page and learn whether you want to follow them.
To find the public messages that are directed to you (i.e., those that start with your @BusinessName) or
that mention you (i.e., those that include your @BusinessName elsewhere in the tweet), head to your
Twitter home page, and then on the right side of the screen, click the tab labeled your @BusinessName.
For businesses, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on incoming @mentions, because they’re often sent
by customers or potential customers expecting a reply.
Tip: To reply easily from the Twitter website, mouse over a message, and then look on the right end for
the “Reply arrow”. Click the arrow to start a new message addressed to the original user.
DM, or direct message
Direct messages — or DMs — are Twitter’s private messaging channel. These tweets appear on your
home page under the Direct Messages tab, and if you’ve got email notifications turned on, you’ll also get
an email message when somebody DMs you. DMs don’t appear in either person’s public timeline or in
search results. No one but you can see your DMs.
The one tricky concept with DMs is that you can send them only to people who are following you.
Conversely, you can receive them only from people you’re following.
You can easily send DMs from the Direct Messages tab by using the pull-down menu to choose a
recipient and then typing in your note. To send a DM from your home page, start your message with “d
username,” like this:
“d Ev Sorry those cookies gave you food poisoning! Would you prefer a refund or a new batch?”
Tip: If you’re communicating with a customer about something potentially sensitive — including personal
information, account numbers, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, street addresses, etc. — be sure to
encourage them to DM or e-mail you. As we mentioned earlier, @mentions are public, so anyone can see
RT, or retweet
To help share cool ideas via Twitter and to give a shout-out to people you respect, you can repost their
messages and give them credit. People call that retweeting (or RT), and it usually looks something like
this: “RT @Username: Original message, often with a link.” Retweeting is common, and it’s a form of
conversation on Twitter. It’s also a powerful way to spread messages and ideas across Twitter quickly. So
when you do it, you’re engaging in a way people recognize and usually like—making it a good way to
On the right side of your screen and on the Twitter search page, you’ll see ten Trending Topics, which are
the most-mentioned terms on Twitter at that moment. The topics update continually, reflecting the real-
time nature of Twitter and true shifts in what people are paying attention to. A key feature of Twitter,
Trending Topics aggregate many tweets at once and often break news ahead of the mainstream media.
(Note that the trends often include hashtags, described below.)
Twitter messages don’t have a field where you can categorize them. So people have created the hashtag
— which is just the # symbol followed by a term describing or naming the topic — that you add to a post
as a way of saying, “This message is about the same thing as other messages from other people who
include the same hashtag.” Then, when somebody searches for that hashtag, they’ll get all of the related
For instance, let’s say you post, “Voted sixty times in tonight’s showdown. #AmericanIdol.” Your message
would then be part of Twitter search results for “#AmericanIdol,” and if enough people use the same
hashtag at once, the term will appear in Twitter’s Trending Topics.
Companies often use hashtags as part of a product launch (like #FordFiesta), and conferences and
events frequently have hashtags associated with them (like #TED).
A tweetup is simply an in-person gathering organized via Twitter, often spontaneous. Companies use
them for things like hosting launch parties, connecting with customers and introducing like-minded
followers to each other.
With just 140 characters at your disposal, Twitter doesn’t give you much room to include URL links —
some of which are longer than 140 characters themselves. If you post a link on Twitter via the website,
sometimes we automatically shorten the URL for you. There are also a number of services — URL
shorteners — that take regular links and shrink them down to a manageable length for tweets, and some
even let you track clicks.
• Use a casual, friendly tone in your messages. You can use a headline style or short sentences,
but make sure your sentences are grammatically correct and all of the words are spelled
• If we’ve designated a hashtag for an event, be sure to use it!
• You may need to abbreviate to fit your entire message in. Just make sure everyone knows what
you’re talking about.
• Twitter is real-time, so make sure your message is well planned and edited before submitting it.
Spell check is your friend!
• While you shouldn’t feel compelled to follow everyone who follows you, do respond to some
questions or comments addressed to you.
• If you like a particular message, retweet it.
• Post links to articles and sites you think folks would find interesting — even if they’re not your
sites or about your company.
• Make sure your tweets provide some real value.
o Offer Twitter exclusive coupons or deals
o Take people behind the scenes of your company
o Post pictures from your offices, stores, warehouses, etc.
o Share sneak peeks of projects or events in development
• Don’t spam people. Twitter’s following model means that you have to respect the interests and
desires of other people here or they’ll unfollow you. The most common way to run afoul of that
understanding — and to thus look like a spammer — is to send unsolicited @messages or DMs,
particularly when you include a promotional link.
• Provide little nuggets. If a speaker says something interest or particularly profound, tweet it! If
someone presents a new or provocative idea, tweet it. Just make sure you give that speaker
credit. Hashtag their name, whether or not they’re on Twitter.
• Provide photos. Outsiders want the inside scoop! Oftentimes, those following your event are
interested in what’s going on, even though they couldn’t attend. Help them feel like they are a part
of what’s going on. It might also encourage them to come along next time.
• Ask those who are following from the outside if they have any questions for the speaker.
• Organize an impromptu tweetup. Perhaps organize those who are interested in discussing a topic
further to meet up at a certain location during breaks. Or create some buzz with a tweetup
• Whenever possible, provide links for more information. Ask speakers if they have a website
where you can direct members. Or if a speaker mentions a great resource, pass it along to
Practical 101s: Getting Started With
By Dave Fleet, DaveFleet.com
If you’re into social media, you’ve probably heard of Twitter. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing social
media tools around right now; in fact the Wall Street Journal just declared that “Twitter Goes Mainstream.”
As the WSJ article says in its lead paragraph, “One of the hottest technologies in Silicon Valley is also
one of the simplest.” This 101 will walk you through a couple of simple steps to getting set-up on Twitter
and suggest a few guidelines that will help put you on the path to getting the most out of it.
There’s a lot to take in, so I’m dividing this topic into two posts. In this post I’ll walk you through the basics
and five “how-to” steps to get started on Twitter. In the next post we’ll take a look at some guidelines for
getting the most out of this tool (or, at least, my take on them).
Honey, I shrunk the blog
Twitter’s concept is very simple – it lets you communicate short (140-character) bursts of information to
the people that subscribe to your updates. These updates are known as “tweets.” It’s like blogging, only
smaller – hence Twitter, and services like it, are known as “micro-blogging” services.
You can also subscribe, or “follow,” other Twitter users yourself. The tweets from people that you follow
are aggregated into a stream of updates.
Part of what makes Twitter so accessible is the plethora of ways you can access the service. There are
many, many websites and desktop applications you can use, and you can even post to Twitter using
instant messaging services or SMS messages. In fact, the options available are so convenient that most
users rarely use the main Twitter website.
How do I get started?
Getting started on Twitter is really easy. There are five main steps:
1. Set up an account
2. Enter your profile information so people know who you are
3. Find your friends
4. Select a way to post messages
5. Get posting!
Step 1: Set up an account
This part’s easy.
• Go to http://twitter.com and click the big green “Get Started – Join!” button.
• On the resulting screen, enter the username you want, your desired password, your email
address and complete the spam checker
Step 2: Enter your profile information
Twitter is, to a large extent, a social network. If you want people to want to connect to you, you’ll need to
tell them a little bit about you. Nothing scary; nothing that will compromise yourself; just a little bit so
people know who you are.
Log into Twitter, and click on the ‘Settings’ link at the top of your Twitter homepage.
Your profile on Twitter follows the same principles as the updates you post – short, sharp and to the point.
The ‘Account’ tab of the ‘Settings’ section includes a text box that lets you input a 160-character blurb
about yourself, along with a link to your website and the city where you live. Again, it doesn’t have to be
anything horribly revealing. Here’s my information:
You also have the option of ‘protecting’ your updates if you like. Protecting your updates lets you choose
the people who can see what you post – every time someone tries to subscribe to your tweets, you
receive a notification that you can approve or decline. There are pros and cons to this:
• Protecting your updates can feel safer if you’re nervous about other people seeing what you post
or if you’ve had problems with online privacy in the past
• However, it will also limit the number of people who will try to follow you, which can limit the
conversations you have – thus reducing Twitter’s potential to an extent.
Note: You can protect or unprotect your tweets at any point, so you can always change your mind later.
The ‘Picture’ tab lets you – you guessed it – upload a picture to your profile. Again, not everyone is
comfortable with this and it is optional, but it will again make you more approachable and open up the
potential of Twitter a little more if you do upload one.
The last tab to worry about right now is the ‘Devices’ tab. If you want to use your cellphone to post and
receive messages, you can set that up here.
Step 3: Find your friends
There are a few simple ways to find people to follow on Twitter:
1. Search for people you know who are already using Twitter Click the ‘Find People’ link at the
top of the screen. You’ll see three tabs:
The first of these tabs lets you enter your email address(es) and searches your address book to
see if anyone has associated any of those addresses with a Twitter account.
2. Invite your friends to join The second tab lets you enter your friends’ email addresses to invite
them to join Twitter.
3. Search for new people to follow Unfortunately the ’search’ tab is currently disabled. However,
you can mimic this function to an extent by using http://search.twitter.com. Search for the city
where you live to find other users who live close to you. Enter your career area to find business
peers. Enter your hobbies to find people with shared interests. The list of potential things to
search for goes on and on.
Step 4: Select a way to post messages
As I mentioned earlier, one of the great things about Twitter is the variety of ways you can interact with it.
You can use the website, you can use another website (I just tried itweet.net, for example), you can use
mobile or desktop applications, or you can use SMS.
What to choose?
There are way too many choices for me to outline in this post. Check out Brian Solis’ list of Twitter tools
for a comprehensive resource. I’ll just quickly outline three of my favourites here – Twhirl and Tweetdeck.
One of the most popular ways of using Twitter is through an application called Twhirl. Twhirl is a desktop
application that runs on the Adobe AIR platform, and provides a simple graphical interface that
automatically updates with your friends’ latest tweets. If you also have accounts for services like
laconi.ca, Friendfeed or seesmic, you can keep tabs on them using Twhirl, too.
The benefit of running a desktop application is that it can sit, minimized, in your system tray and just notify
you when someone sends you a message. You can do everything that the website lets you do, all in a re-
sizeable, convenient application that notifies you when you receive a message directed to you.
Installing Twhirl is very easy – from the homepage just click the ‘Install Now’ button on the right-hand side
of the Twhirl homepage (you will also need to install Adobe AIR if you haven’t done so already). Once the
install process is done, just give it your Twitter login credentials and you’re good to go.
I’m a big fan of Tweetdeck. Like Twhirl, Tweetdeck is an Adobe AIR application that runs on your
Tweetdeck’s unique selling point is that it lets you group the people you follow by creating different
columns which display each group’s updates. If you interact with a large community on Twitter, this can
be very useful.
You can also set up persistent Twitter searches to run within Tweetdeck, which is extremely useful. For
example, I have a search set up for every client for whom I work and another one for PodCamp Toronto,
which I co-organise.
Installing Tweetdeck is, again, very easy. Just scroll down the Tweetdeck homepage and click the black
installation button. Once it’s installed, getting started is as simple as logging-in using your Twitter
Twitterific works only on Macs, not Windows-based PCs. However, despite not having a Mac, I do use
Twitterific on my iPod Touch. Twitterific is the best way I’ve found so far of interacting with Twitter on the
There are two versions – a free ad-supported version and a paid ad-free version.
You can download Twitterific from iTunes.
5. Get posting!
You’re all set! There are just a few more things to know before you can get tweeting.
First – how to interact with others.
(The second part of this post will go over some suggested guidelines for doing this – this is simply the
1. To post a regular message to all of your subscribers (aka. followers), just type it into the
website/application and hit ‘post’/’send.’
2. To send a message to someone publically, type “@” followed by their username, then the
message. So, if I wanted to say hi to me (I’m lonely), I’d type “@davefleet hi there!” These are
known as “replies.”
3. To send a private message to someone (aka. a direct message), type “d” then a space and then
their username. So, to send me a direct message you would type “d davefleet That’s a really long
blog post on Twitter!” Note: you can only send direct messages to people who you follow, and
who follow you. That means you won’t get them out-of-the-blue.
Note: Tweetdeck and Twhirl both have this functionality built-in to them. If you mouse-over someone’s
profile picture (next to each tweet) in these applications, you’ll see either two or four icons:
• Re-tweet (re-post the message that person posted)
• Reply to that person (publicly)
• Add this message to your favourites
• Direct-message that person
Clicking the reply or direct-message buttons won’t send a message immediately; they’ll just populate the
input box with the necessary text to send that message, saving you a few seconds.
That’s all for now
There you have it – you’re now ready to start using Twitter.
If you’re nervous about getting started in social media, Twitter is a great place to look. It’s quick to start,
easy and flexible to use, helps you get to know other people and doesn’t require the concentrated
investment of time that blogging can require. It’s still emerging and still developing, but use it well and you
can get a lot of value from it.