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Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg
 

What Are CPAs Doing Online?

They’re making contacts and making money. Find out what CPAs like you are doing on the Internet. Join the survey; get the answers.

February 23, 2009
by Rick Telberg/At Large

FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn present a dizzying new world to many people, not just CPAs. But a few hardy and adventuresome tax, accounting and finance professionals are making their way into the new online world of social media, some with truly astounding results.

Take CPA Scot Justice, for example. A few years ago Justice was working for a printing company in Nashville and hoping, someday, to open his own CPA firm. He started blogging as an introductory Web presence and marketing tool. A year or so later the company was sold and he was out of a job — and he couldn’t have been happier.

WHAT ARE CPAs DOING ONLINE?

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Today, Scot says, “Fifty-percent of the prospects who contact me mention this blog and how the topics I’ve written about directly relate the financial management and accounting help their business needs.” Read Scot’s blog at http://virtualcfo.typepad.com/

Or how about Lisa Khayyat? The Charlotte, N.C., CPA calls her firm “America’s Virtual Accounting Solution.” She offers controller services, taxes and QuickBooks support — all without actually leaving the office. She blogs at http://www.virtualcpablog.com/

And then there’s Michelle Long. Another QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Michelle has written the book on successful QuickBooks consulting, aptly titled “Successful QuickBooks Consulting.” She teaches at the local university and works with clients from all over from her Kansas City office. Find her at http://www.mlongconsulting.com/.

And that’s just a sampling of the CPAs you can find online. There are also a slew of bookkeepers, attorneys and tax advisors. In fact, if you’re not familiar with social-media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, then you should ask yourself why.

Why? Why should CPAs care? Because, says Bill Sheridan, e-communications manager at the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA), “their customers are using it. Their competition is using it. Their vendors and partners are using it. Do you see a pattern there? If the people who are closest to you are communicating that way, shouldn't you be communicating with them that way as well?”

Sheridan’s boss, Tom Hood, chief executive of the MACPA and a pioneer in online outreach, says, “CPAs are in the relationship business and these tools help manage relationships. CPAs are in the information and knowledge-management business and these tools help manage information and get answers. CPAs are in the communication business and these tools help to communicate.”

Hood is quick to add, “Did I say that most of these tools are free?”

I agree with Hood when he says he thinks “we are on the brink of another major technological disruption due to the evolution of these tools.” They are being adopted at record-breaking levels and quickly gaining respect in the mainstream business arena.

“Take President Obama, for example,” Hood says. “Many have attributed his margin of victory to his use of social media to connect and mobilize his supporters. His campaign was on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, the Web and more. He continues to use these tools from the Oval Office.”

Facebook recently celebrated its fifth birthday claiming 150 million active users. “That would make it one half the size of the United States and the eighth largest country in the world,” Hood says.

“I wouldn't call that a fad,” Hood says.

And neither would I.

FIND OUT: What CPAs like you are doing on the Internet. Join the survey; get the answers.

CONTACT ME DIRECTLY: Rants, raves, questions, comments? E-mail me at rickt@cpatrendlines.com.

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Copyright © 2009 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.