Richmond Chapter Social Media Handouts


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Handouts and background material for the presentation given to the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accounts on the power of using social media.

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Richmond Chapter Social Media Handouts

  1. 1. 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 RELATIONSHIPS. 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. Listen • Immerse yourself in conversations • Visit social sites to observe • Ask your coworkers, kids who… Participate • Remember it’s a dialogue not a monologue • Set up a profile – LinkedIn: / Facebook: / 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 etiquette • Obey or set company guidelines for participation Connect with the VSCPA! • Web: • Blog: • LinkedIn: and search for “Virginia Society of CPAs” • Facebook: and search for “Virginia Society of CPAs” • Flickr: • Twitter: (@VSCPANews), (@FinancialFit)
  2. 2. 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, July 28, 2009
  3. 3. 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 your firm. 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. Participate. 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 development tool. Brian Swanson is a partner with Flashpoint Marketing- His firm specializes in providing business development strategies and practical marketing solutions for CPA firms. He can be reached at Source: WebCPA, July 28, 2009
  4. 4. VSCPA Twitter Training Through its website,, 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. Twitter Terms Following 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. Tweet 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.” @username 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
  5. 5. 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 them. 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 connect. Trending Topics 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.) Hashtag (#) 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 messages. 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). Tweetup 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.
  6. 6. Shortened URLs 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. Tips • 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 correctly. • 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. Ideas • 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 giveaway. • 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 outsiders!
  7. 7. Practical 101s: Getting Started With Twitter By Dave Fleet, 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 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
  8. 8. 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:
  9. 9. 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 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, 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. Twhirl 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, 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. Tweetdeck I’m a big fan of Tweetdeck. Like Twhirl, Tweetdeck is an Adobe AIR application that runs on your desktop. 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.
  10. 10. 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 username. Twitterific 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 Touch. 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 how-to) 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.