accountants use of social mediaAs we have frequently observed in this blog, and as has been confirmed by our market research, most of the legal field is still operating in the Middle Ages when it comes to social media, whereas other industries have already entered into a full-blown Renaissance. Direct communication with customers thanks to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, SlideShare and other social networks is a total game changer that has become commonplace in most consumer facing industries and in many B to B markets as well, although it remains a relative rarity for lawyers. It rewards instantaneous feedback, personality and those who share valuable and relevant information.

We’d like to share some of our thoughts about the findings of a 2014 survey titled “How Accounting Firms Use Social Media Today,” conducted by Barry MacQuarrie and Sarah Johnson Dobek of SocialCPAs. The 395 participants were all employed by accounting firms, state CPA societies, or vendors/consultants. It shows that accountants for the most part are equally slow in coming to the social media party. If anything they may be trailing behind the legal profession – at the stage of the early Middle Ages compared to lawyers who appear to be rounding the corner if not already approaching some sort of great awakening.

What the accountant survey shows is that LinkedIn was the number one social network adopted by accountants (as it is with lawyers) with 92.8 percent of participants on it. Facebook and Twitter are also widely used and the industry is focusing on integrating YouTube videos and Google+ in the next year.

The survey found that accountants are not too active on social media; only a few firms post a few times, mostly one to four times, per week. Twitter is used the most frequently. Sole proprietors and large firms posted the most, while small and mid-size firms lagged behind.

Social media is still done manually, according to almost 60 percent of the participants, rather than though software or other tools, although some do use Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Most posts are just text, without pictures or video.

About half of the firms don’t have social media policies or training for employees. Very few firms, only about 20 percent, advertise on social media. Most of the ads are on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Interestingly, posting frequency directly correlated with results. “Having a social profile isn’t enough to generate great results. What you share and how you share it matters,” the author’s wrote. Then again, only about 50 percent of firms even look at their analytics on at least a monthly basis.

Each social network was used a bit differently, postings about firm outings and office fun dominate company Facebook pages, also the ideal place to show off promotions and awards and promote original content. LinkedIn usage is much more business oriented, with posts about recruiting and hiring opportunities and tax/accounting alerts. Twitter is more of a mix, but accountants primary usage seems directed towards promoting events and conferences.

Social media successes are viewed quantitatively, in terms on return on investment and qualitatively, by looking at intangibles like goodwill and awareness. Half of the firms don’t track their leads through social media. Of those who are tracking, those who post at least daily see an average 3.1 percent increase daily. LinkedIn produces the most leads.

The authors conclude that most accountants’ use of social media is still lacking there is a lot of room for improvement. While most firms have profiles, they rarely post and when they do, they fail to vary content across the different channels. The authors recommend developing the infrastructure so that posts can be managed and tracked efficiently through tools like Hootsuite as well as putting social media policies into practice.

We hope that sounds like familiar advice because every since we launched our business we’ve been urging lawyers and law firms to do the same!  

By the way, we have just released the initial results of the 2014 Social Law Firm Index. Take a look and let us know your thoughts…

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