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Mitchell Freedman
 

Can Social Media and the CPA Profession Mix?

Why you should be involved.

February 28, 2011
by Mitchell Freedman, CPA, PFS

TechBytes

I’m a CPA, a professional in an esteemed profession. I’m also a “social animal.” The word “social” can be an adjective or a noun. This article answers the question: Can social media and the CPA profession mix?

Merriam-webster.com has a number of definitions for the word, “social:”

  1. Involving allies or confederates;
  2. Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates;
  3. Of, relating to or designed for sociability;
  4. Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group or the welfare of human beings as members of society;
  5. Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others;
  6. Living and breeding in more or less organized communities; and
  7. Tending to grow in groups or masses so as to form a pure stand. By these definitions there is no reason why there cannot be a blending of our profession and social media.

I have been involved with social media (SM) for about three years and some would say that if this dinosaur can do it any CPA can. But, why should you become involved with it? You should, because it’s good for business and, it can also be fun. At present I participate in four social networking sites, I have found of limited use for Plaxo. I primarily use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for my SM activities. I tend to use more personal context with Facebook, although I do use it for business contacts as well. LinkedIn and Twitter are used almost exclusively for business. How do I utilize social media for business? I try to engage my followers, friends and contacts with useful information, including web links that my followers will hopefully find of value. Call it marketing, branding, whatever. All I know is that I have gained clients, prospects, contacts and friends from my social media participation. I have also re-connected with business people with whom I lost track of over the years. I even connected with many of the buddies I grew up with, some of whom I hadn’t been in contact with for more than 45 years. That’s real value.

With LinkedIn you can build a database of professionals who can be resources for you and they can also be prospects and referral sources as well. One of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn is its groups function. With it you can find groups with whom you have common aspects and with others you can find prospects in your areas of specialization or concentration.

With Twitter you can actually hone your writing skills by “micro-blogging” up to 140 characters. You’d be surprised how much you can say with so few characters. The landscape is changing as a very new application (deck.ly) permits you to write more than 140 characters by use of an automatic link to a website that captures the characters in excess of 140. Is that good or is it “cheating?” Time will tell. I tend to be a purest, trying to limit my writing to the 140 characters.

There are a number of applications that permit you to make one post that simultaneously makes entries on all of your SM sites. I have found TweetDeck to be useful for this, although there are a number of web apps that provide similar service.

Bill Spaniel, director of Public Relations at the California Society of CPAs once told me, “Mitch when you were young success depended upon who you knew, but today success depends on who knows you.” That phrase resonated with me. I also recognized that young people — professionals and prospects — are glued to their smart phones texting and also being involved with SM. I understood and decided to participate in that space.

Last Words

How much time do I devote to social media? Anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour a day. I try not to make more than four or five business posts per day and sometimes a few days can go by without any business posts. You can make it work for you no matter how much time you devote to it.

A great resource for learning the ropes is, Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms, by Michelle Golden. It is a terrific primer and an easy read with illustrative case studies.

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Mitchell Freedman, CPA, PFS, AIF, is the founder and president of Mitchell Freedman Accountancy Corporation, specializing in Business Management and Financial Counseling for performing and creative artists and individuals with complex and unique financial needs. He is also the founder and President of MFAC Financial Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisory Firm. He is a founding member of The All-Star Financial Group, LLC, Association of CPA Financial Planners and the Oversight Group, LLC. In 2007, the Personal Financial Planning Section of the AICPA presented him with the 2006 Distinguished Service award.