Bob Dylan once famously advised his listeners that they better start swimming or they would sink like a stone. The times really are a-changin’, and in the CPA profession, they're changing quickly—and seismically.
CPAs are struggling to keep pace with groundbreaking shifts on four important fronts: legislation and regulation, workforce demographics, leadership and succession, and advances in technology. Individually, each of these fronts is producing head-spinning complexity within the profession. Collectively, these changes can seem overwhelming and nearly impossible to conquer.
There is hope, though. One reason is that the very technological changes that sometimes seem so frenetic also offer us an unprecedented way to learn new skills. In particular, we can increasingly learn from one another thanks to the advent of social media.
Of course, there are still plenty of skeptics about Twitter and its social media siblings, thanks in part to the presence of so many superfluous and self-indulgent posts. In 2010, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt said that five exabytes of information—as much as was created from the dawn of civilization through 2003—were being created every two days. Social media contributes to that flood of information.
Far from being the cause of information overload, though, social media actually helps solve that problem. It’s a perfect filter that lets us follow only the people who add value to our lives and ignore everything else.
So who adds value?
That, of course, depends on your definition of “value.” But I believe there are five categories of people that all CPAs should consider following on Twitter. Within each, you’ll find individuals who will help you learn, grow, and stay ahead of the relentless pace of change. Here is a look at the five categories, along with some suggestions on people to follow in those categories.
- Regulators: They influence our lives more today than ever before—and most of them are on Twitter. You’ll get important tax-filing tips and announcements from the IRS (@IRSNews and @IRSTaxPros), financial reporting updates from the SEC (@SEC_News) and the Small Business Administration (@SBAgov), standard-setting news from FASB, GASB, and the FAF (@FAFNorwalk), and the latest on public company oversight from the PCAOB (@PCAOB_News), among others.
- Your CPA societies: Your own state’s CPA society is a must follow since it will be posting news related to the profession and details on upcoming society events and CPE programs. In addition, the AICPA offers a number of Twitter accounts that CPAs will want to follow. You’ll get accounting-related news from the Journal of Accountancy (@AICPA_JofA), tax updates from The Tax Adviser (@TheTaxAdviser), a daily overview of top headlines and analyses from CPA Letter Daily (@CPALetter_Daily), and updates about the Institute from AICPA Media Relations (@AICPANews).
- Accounting / business media: In addition to the AICPA publications mentioned above, the accounting press shares invaluable information with its followers. Rick Telberg at CPA Trendlines (@CPA_Trendlines) has his hand on the pulse of the profession like no one else I know. He frequently surveys CPAs from coast to coast on issues such as workforce demographics, MAP issues, and tax season progress, then publishes the results in one of the profession’s most well-read and highly respected blogs. You’ll get daily news from Accounting Today (@AccountingToday) and in-depth analysis from AccountingWEB (@AccountingWEB). Acclaimed “Tax Girl” Kelly Phillips Erb (@TaxGirl) writes frequently for Forbes (@Forbes). Fast Company (@FastCompany) writes about innovation and leadership, CFO Magazine (@CFOpub) and CGMA Magazine (@CGMA) take the business-and-industry perspective, and TED Talks (@TEDTalks) offers cutting-edge insights on … well, almost everything.
- Thought leaders, accounting: Again, value is in the eye of the beholder, but I love to follow Tom Hood (@TomHood), my boss at the Maryland Association of CPAs, for his future-focused insight on what matters to CPAs. Others making the cut are auditor watchdog Francine McKenna (@ReTheAuditors), value pricing evangelist Ron Baker (@RonaldBaker), small-firms innovators Jody Padar (@JodyPadarCPA) and Jason Blumer (@JasonMBlumer), social media leader Michelle Golden (@MichelleGolden), and CPA comedian Greg Kyte (@GregKyte).
- Thought leaders, nonaccounting: This list is endless, but a select few are at the top of my list. Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) writes about the future of business. Tom Peters (@Tom_Peters) is an expert on business management. Rita McGrath (@RGMcGrath) focuses on change management. Brian Solis (@BrianSolis) offers brilliant takes on social business. Daniel Burrus (@DanielBurrus) helps us focus on the future. Dan Pink (@DanielPink) knows more about personal behavior than almost anyone else I know. Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) helps us all work better—and do work that matters. And Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee) is a high-energy, self-trained expert on social media and innovation.
We’ve only scratched the surface here. If you find it valuable, it’s probably on Twitter. Here are a couple of quick tips for finding good stuff on Twitter:
- Follow a few of the accounts above, then look at whom they are following. They’re probably following people you’ll want to follow as well.
- Search Google for “(your search term here) on Twitter.”
Keep tweeting … and keep learning.
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Bill Sheridan, CAE, is chief communications officer and resident Twitter cheerleader with the Maryland Association of CPAs. Follow him at @BillSheridan.