Social media for accountants why bother - mark lee


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Cloud Accounting for the 21st Century, 22nd September 2011 at Mimecast, organized by The seminar was intended to cut through the jargon to dispel and debunk some of the myths that distort decisions on the benefits of the Cloud. It coveedr advantages, perceived disadvantages, benefits, practicalities and last but in no way least, costs and commitments. Speakers included well known blogger/analysts Dennis Howlett and Phil Wainewright, tax specialist Mark Lee, cloud specialist David Terrar and blogging accountants Richard Messik and Philip Woodgate. Here are the various presentations.

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  • I feel a little like the start of an episode of Monty Python – And NOW for something completely different. A bit light relief maybe. And I’m going to start by offering a controversial observation. Social Media – as it stands, is more popular than cloud accounting, it’s more fun too. It’s also more popular than any other form of online activity – even shopping, gambling, gambling and porn. And more fun than any of them. Most of them. To be fair, I’m not sure whether social media is more popular with accountants than cloud accounting. Hands up – advocates of cloud computing? Advocates of social media?
  • You’re probably fed up with all the so-called marketing gurus telling you that you MUST get onto social media. That it’s inevitable that An objective view. Might seems strange therefore to start by quickly showing you how active I am online – in what they call social media. Online media. Important to stress I’m simply sharing my personal view. I’m not selling anything. I don’t offer marketing or social media training or any form of consultancy services.
  • So why am I speaking to you about all this today. I’m probably one of the oldest, most active and enthusiastic members of our profession involved in online social networks. I’ve also been writing, speaking and blogging on the subject of social media marketing and networking for a few years now. - As I say I’m probably a bit more involved online than most accountants in practice or in business. A lot of it is now strategic and planned. And some of it is simply an experiment. I’m exploring. It works for me to a degree. And it’s fun. Under the heading social media you will see that I include: the more obvious social networks, online business networks, online flora, for a, forums and blogs. There are dozens of other types of sites you could include, but I’m focusing on those that are most relevant or most talked about by accountants in the UK.
  • On Accountingweb – I found an accountant who says he has got lots of biz from twitter. I believe him. This is what he said: So some key points. He’s had his own practice for just over 2 years. He’s into cloud computing ;-) He has a niche and his website is compelling for a certain demographic. I had a look. He offers limited co accounts from £59 pm and s/t accounts from £39pm (also a £69pm package – which includes VAT returns) £59pm = £708 pa £39 = £468pa and £69pm = £828
  • This is an important point. When you hear claims that social media works for other businesses or even for other accountants, do not take the assertions at face value.
  • You need to consider how similar or different you are and whether the same factors will work for you. They may. They may not.
  • A couple of examples I see plenty of small businesses claiming to get some new business through twitter. I think it can be great for certain types of B2C offerings. Much less so B2B or for those who have full time jobs outside of a marketing role. As with websites – you need to consider who is your audience? I do see an increasing number of smaller practitioners exploring and claiming to secure some benefit. The majority however are newish into practice and are only really winning new business startups – the profitability and longevity of which remain to be seen. I see even more larger practices appear online – often the initiative of someone in the marketing dept who often doesn’t understand social networking. They think it’s all about broadcasting and promoting their firms. But social media is not a broadcast media. You will only ever secure the business potential of online social networks when you ‘get’ that key point. I’ll return to it in a moment. [click….]
  • It might help if we think of social, simply as the converse of [click] ANTI-social And here’s the first critical lesson, if that’s the right word, to keep in mind if you are to have any success in seeking to realise the business potential of online social networks. You need to avoid being seen as ANTI-social
  • Many online social networks are like local communities. If you want to gain any business value from your involvement you need to engage fellow ‘villagers’ in conversation. This is very different to any other form of marketing activity which generally consists of broadcasting your views, ideas and marketing messages. So – a big tip if you intend to experiment and explore social media – is avoid [click] shouting and broadcasting. If that’s all you’re inclined to do, save yourself time, effort and disappointment – don’t bother. [click] It will be completely counter-productive. At best you’ll be ignored. At worse you’ll ruin your reputation long term.
  • Though it might be helpful..
  • That figure of 10m plus looks impressive. You too can get a very high figure. Simply connect with someone who is connected to a very widely connected person. Hence the reason that the REAL figure so far as I’m concerned is the 385,000 people I’m just two degrees from. [click] [click] In my case I suspect my number is partly a function of just 13 people in my network who are themselves directly connected to someone who themselves has millions of direct connections - which is why my 3rd level connections is such a high figure
  • Mystery man…
  • Who is going to do it all for you?
  • Media, staff, resources Build an online following and community
  • Who is going to do this? You? Your firm? Someone in marketing? Outsource to a third party? Well, it might be a little premature to start off by hiring someone. Incidentally – who refers work to a firm? People buy people. People refer people. People want to be referred to a person, not a firm. Anyway let’s imagine you decide it’s worth the bother and you ask Harry to take on the role of managing the firm’s social media projects; In order for Harry to devote any time to this new project he’s going to have to give up doing something else. As we’re accountants….
  • Thought you might like an equation. This is Harry and his time is finite. His priorities can be expressed in formulaic terms. He should stop doing X, to do Y in order to accomplish Z which is more important than Q Not totally true. I often tweet when I’m out and about, waiting for trains, taxis, lifts, web pages to load and so on. But that’s twitter, not LinkedIn. Many is the day I realise I have omitted to do very much on LinkedIn.
  • Start with X – what is going to give? Your newsletter? Your direct mail campaign? Harry’s smoking break? Is he currently wasting his time? Or does the practice or business benefit from what Harry does at the moment?
  • You can’t just say: Harry I need you to do our social media. You need to agree a reasonable amount of time each day or week. And a word of warning. Once Harry starts it can be quite hard to stop. It may start at just 2 or 3 hours a week. It can easily end up as 2 -3 hours a day. Likely to require at least 5 hours a week IF you plan to use social media as a serious marketing tool.
  • Now Z – the strategic and financial impact you hope to achieve from having Harry (or yourself) involved with social media activity? If you hop on the bandwagon without a clear idea of what you hope to achieve, how can you determine that it’s more important than anything else you’re doing? Ie X
  • If you’re considering getting engaged in social media at your firm or company, don’t you think it would be a good idea to consider what else Harry could be doing with the time you are going to free up and the impact that might have on your business? It’s basic due diligence I think. It’s the same if you are considering recruiting someone to run your social media campaign – or outsourcing this to a marketing organisation.
  • For a start, there are plenty of other marketing related activities that Harry or you or a marketing consultant could be engaged in. A review of your marketing mix? Your marketing messages? Arranging seminars? Attending face to face networking groups? Visiting EXISTING clients rather than hoping to engage and secure work from STRANGERS – which is what new contacts and followers are.
  • Social media is NOT the only game in town – but it does look more exciting and can be lots of fun. And, as I mentioned earlier there are more elements of social media than we’ve time to talk about today. And of course there’s then the risk of falling behind. What are the risks of choosing to wait? There’s lots to consider. Back to twitter. I do love it.
  • This is the big fear I think. I’m not a marketing guru. I’m a pragmatist. And an optimistic and enthusiastic one at that. I am experimenting with social media. I have been for over 4 years. I check out what the gurus say. I check out what the marketing people say. I test and experiment. And I am constantly disappointed by the results and the outcome given the effort I put in. I think most people are – they just don’t admit it. So why do I continue? I enjoy it! Or maybe I’m stupid. If so I’ll stick with this definition…
  • Think of twitter as being like your satellite tv. Anyone have one? They’re full of shopping channels and pop music yup? Is that true? So you just watch the shopping channels and pop music channels? No? No. Of course not. You choose what you watch. It’s the same with twitter. You need only follow people you find of interest. If someone you are following posts stuff you think is 'rubbish' or uninteresting then change channels. Stop following them. You need never see any of their rubbish or mealtime menus ever again. [click] Let me just highlight one further misconception. And again it’s one that the media tend to perpetuate.
  • Twitter is best thought of as a fast flowing river that you dip into every now and then. You won’t see all the messages that are posted by the people you follow and those who follow you won’t see all of your messages. Who has the time to simply watch the river passing by all day? So what can you use twitter for? To see what people you find interesting are recommending. Articles, news items, ideas, podcasts, pictures – the list goes on. Initially you’ll choose to follow some people who you know or know of. You may check out the lists on which they are listed or that they follow. In time people will start to follow you. I currently have over 2800 ‘followers’. But around 40% of them are in the US and probably never see what I post. The remainder are a mix of business associates, accountants, tax people, journalists, consultants and strangers. My twitter posts have led to attendees at my seminars, registrations for the Tax Advice Network’s weekly practical tax newsletter for accountants, new tax adviser members of the Network, even booked to speak at today’s conference!. Some of the people who follow me, ReTweet some of my messages which means that their followers get to see my tweets too. Well some of them do – those who happen to dip in at the right time.
  • I’m a great fan of twitter. I enjoy it and it’s fun – for me. But I’m not in practice. I remain as skeptical as I was in 2008 when I wrote my first article on the subject. I am NOT advocating that you explore twitter – although you may choose to do so. In which case do please check out these articles on my personal blog. They will help you get to grips with twitter much faster than if you just dip into that river without a life jacket! You can also find my posts on other related topics if you follow that link at the foot of the slide.
  • Social networking is not a new form of quick marketing – not really. If you try to use it that way you will surely be disappointed – whatever self titled marketing and social media “experts” tell you. There are exceptions – there always are. But they tend to be people selling personal services to consumers who are prepared to commit for the long term to online networking. So my final tip is to….
  • Be clear and realistic about what it is you want to achieve And have fun. I do!
  • 3 great sessions. Some great tips and advice How to present this session – which is alternative view, an objective view if you will
  • Social media for accountants why bother - mark lee

    1. 1. Social (and other online) Media for Accountants Why Bother? Mark Lee FCA CTA (Fellow) MMC Chairman of the TaxAdviceNetwork 07769 692890 0845 003 8780
    2. 2. <ul><li>It’s not about ME, it’s about YOU </li></ul>
    3. 3. Group leader (5) incl: Accountants – UK
    4. 4. I've got lots of business from Twitter.  Initially I did have to put in a lot of work (if chatting b0ll0x counts as work) with little financial reward, but now businesses fairly regularly get pointed my way on Twitter, due partly to my niche of being an accountant who specialises in FreeAgent clients.  it's probably >6 months since I tweeted a link to my site, or tried to sell. An accountant
    5. 5. When others say it works…. <ul><li>Success </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What does it look like for them? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clarity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Of their service proposition and target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New high fee paying clients or something else? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Profile </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How impressive/distinct is it? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Engaging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Business vs personal vs interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does their website have effective calls to action? </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. When others say it works…. <ul><li>S uccess </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What does it look like for them? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C larity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Of their service proposition and target audience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>O bjectives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New high fee paying clients or something else? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>P rofile </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How impressive/distinct is it? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E ngaging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Business vs personal vs interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Does their website have effective calls to action? </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Newish into practice New small businesses B2C suppliers Consumers
    8. 8. Social Vs Anti- social
    9. 9. At best - ignored
    10. 10. Profiles Professional 1 –Personal 2 - Business Personal OR business Personal AND business ‘ Status’ updates As you choose Copied to ‘friends’ 140 character limit Combination Quick ROI Possible Unlikely Almost impossible Unlikely Typical activity Varies Daily Twice daily Varies Key focus Business to business Friendship and fun Your choice Small biz and solopreneurs Groups Sectors, recruiters (max 50) Fans/friends n/a As many as you like Q&A Sophisticated Across friends’ walls Only through updates In groups and blogs Blogging Imports 3 rd party apps Imports 3 rd party apps 140 character limit Yes Business benefits YES Maybe Could be Sometimes
    11. 11. LinkedIn – choose your settings Mark Lee Add Connections - Settings
    12. 14. If passive Can be found Can be contacted Waste of time Google SEO benefit only Community spirit Rare Wall, Fan pages, apps If active and many followers If active in blogs/groups People…. Use Linkedin Play on facebook Tweet on twitter Belong to ecademy Online/offline Online Online Online Both Typical contributions Marketing. CVs and groups Chatting Commentary and questions Helping, supporting Interaction Q&A, Direct messages Walls, Direct messages Replies, ReTweets (RTs) Blogs, groups, meetings, direct messages Potential reach W/wide with US emphasis Worldwide W/wide with US emphasis W/wide with UK emphasis Possible focus FIND biz contacts/staff MANAGE friends CHAT BUILD business Level of interest Professional Everywhere Widespread with media hype Less than it should be
    13. 15. Realistic objectives <ul><li>Build profile, reputation, contacts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You as a person/expert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your business brand (but I’m doubtful) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>LOCAL awareness only if LOCAL focus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As distinct from unfocused activity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most prospects are LOCAL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Regardless of your ability to work anywhere) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Increase traffic to your website </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You need to be clear what you want them to do there </li></ul></ul><ul><li>New sources of information and advice </li></ul>
    14. 16. OR
    15. 17. x = What he could stop doing y = What he could do with SM z = The impact of SM activity q = The impact of other activity Social media is NOT free ( -x) + y = z > q
    16. 18. X What can he STOP doing? ( -x) + y = z > q
    17. 19. Y What will he starting doing? Blogging ( -x) + y = z > q
    18. 20. Z The impact of the SM activity ( -x) + y = z > q
    19. 21. q The impact of other activity ( -x) + y = z > q
    20. 24. You have been found guilty of wasting time on social media
    21. 26. Dip in and out of the river
    22. 27. <ul><li>Twitter is not for accountants </li></ul><ul><li>A twitter case study and intro for professional advisers </li></ul><ul><li>The biggest misconception about twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Getting started on twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>for accountant type twitter virgins </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Twenty top tips for using twitter </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Key Do’s and Don’ts especially for accountants </li></ul></ul><ul><li> – online networking </li></ul>
    23. 28. Social Networking is NOT a quick form of Marketing
    24. 29. Set your strategy….. …. and have fun
    25. 30. Social (and other online) Media for Accountants Why Bother? Mark Lee FCA CTA (Fellow) MMC Chairman of the TaxAdviceNetwork 07769 692890 0845 003 8780
    26. 31. Contact details <ul><li>Mark Lee FCA, CTA (Fellow) </li></ul><ul><li>M: 07769 692890 </li></ul><ul><li>T: 0845 003 8780 </li></ul><ul><li>E: M [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Further info re Mark’s talks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Media – without the hype! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mark’s blog for ambitious professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Connecting you with independent specialist tax advisers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Register for complimentary copies of weekly tax tips written specifically for accountants in general practice </li></ul></ul>