My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and a partner with a National Accounting Firm in Toronto. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are written solely in my personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which I am affiliated. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humor/sarcasm. You've been warned.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Baby Boomer’s view of Social Media


My blog's mission statement is to discuss income tax and money issues and to blog about anything else that crosses my mind. It was suggested to me by some, that I stick to the tax and money issues; because that is the reason they were coming to my blog. I have thus kept my rants, off-topic blogs and restaurant reviews to a minimum. However, today I will inflict upon you an off-topic blog on my views of social media.

As a baby boomer, I think it is fair to say I have embraced social media to a large extent compared to many of my generation. I have this blog, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account and I even hired a social media expert to help my firm Cunningham LLP.

Despite embracing social media, I am a partner in an accounting firm and I am often asked by my partners "how is this social media stuff translating into practical results in terms of clients and opportunities". (Hey, you cannot take the numbers out of an accountant). Anyways, since I am now a reformed bean counter, I explain that one must be cognizant that social media can also provide less measurable and intangible benefits, such as firm branding and/or personal recognition. I am not sure they buy it, but it sounds good so they leave me alone; although I must say, in some cases, such as Twitter, I still don’t get the point. I discuss my views on some of the key social media mediums below.

Blogs


This topic is near and dear to my heart. I probably broke every blog rule when I started this blog. For all intents and purposes, I started the blog because I put my hand up at a partner retreat. At our retreat last summer, our marketing consultant told us we were sorely lacking in social media and I volunteered to do a blog, since I like to write. Thus, I had no clear objective other than getting our firm started on the social media road. Mostly through luck and a little self-marketing, I got some early recognition from other kind bloggers and the Globe and Mail, which has translated into a nice steady following. The blog has evolved into a more practical tax and money blog, than the originally envisioned, “What’s on Mark’s mind blog.” However, that is fine and I will still have the occasional rant and personalize the blog when the mood strikes.

Although some of my partners want to look at whether the blog results in potential clients, I write because I enjoy writing and educating and the blog does bring some recognition to the firm and me personally, which is the intangible benefit. Hopefully, to get my partners off my back, at some point the blog will result in a few corporate clients coming on board with Cunningham LLP. In fact, I had one lead from a reader for which I thank them.

LinkedIn



My blog routine is to publish my blog, Tweet about the blog posting and then my Twitter account automatically updates my LinkedIn status. LinkedIn is a true business site. Some people swear by LinkedIn while others have not seen much benefit.

I like LinkedIn because if I need to utilize someone’s services I can go to their LinkedIn account to see if I know any of their connections. If we have a common connection I can vet the proposed service provider through these contacts. On the flip side, when I get a lead on a client or customer, if they are on LinkedIn I can see if any of their connections are people I know, and if so, I may be able to use a common connection to provide a warm referral to the prospective client/customer. Recently, I received a referral from LinkedIn when a banker I had lost touch with, found me on LinkedIn and referred a client.

It is also possible one of your connections has a contact you would like to meet and you can use them to arrange a meeting. LinkedIn allows you to see (details depends upon your LinkedIn status) who is viewing your profile, which is useful information.

The downside to LinkedIn is being bothered by people you do not want as connections and some people have concerns their customers/clients will be poached, so they turn off their connections. All in all, I find LinkedIn as a very useful social media site.

Facebook


I do not use Facebook personally, although our firm has a page. I do not consider Facebook a business site. I know many people love it as a personal social site. The only redeeming feature of Facebook for me is I get to see the crazy pictures my kids take in University while drunk. Actually, I would see them if they granted me access, but I have my sources :).

Twitter


As I noted, I Tweet my blogs and that is about it. I may use Twitter in the future to announce Federal and Provincial budget information, but I do not understand Twitter. When I go to Twitter, which is very infrequently, I see multiple Tweets by people I follow, most of which seem to be Tweets for Tweets sake. I just don’t see how anyone has the time to follow Twitter and I don’t see how 99% of the Tweets are useful, but maybe I am showing my age here.

In conclusion, I think social media can be very effective even for us baby boomers, if you are selective and strategic with its use.

The blogs posted on The Blunt Bean Counter provide information of a general nature. These posts should not be considered specific advice; as each reader's personal financial situation is unique and fact specific. Please contact a professional advisor prior to implementing or acting upon any of the information contained in one of the blogs.

4 comments:

  1. I think a lot of people make the mistake in believing that by simply setting up a social media account they will automatically develop a new following.

    The term social media should actually be called social networking. Nobody just shows up at a networking event, drops off their business card, and immediately gains hundreds of new clients. It's about building relationships.

    I would suggest to concentrate on one or two social networking sites where you can build a significant presence and forget the other ones. It sounds like LinkedIn works for you, and I wouldn't ignore Facebook. Take a look at what Rob Carrick has going on with his Facebook page.

    Twitter is more of a conversation tool, you can jump into anyone's conversation and add value (follow other tax professionals, CFP's, etc) and then maybe once you build a bit of a relationship you can move that over to LinkedIn for more of a business discussion.

    I would also suggest to follow Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), he has a great blog and is an authority on social media, specifically Twitter.

    Look at what you've done with your blog by jumping in with both feet, you've built quite an authority here in this niche. It's hard to measure success, but any initiative takes time to develop a presence and I think you're off to a great start.

    PS - look for my post tomorrow about the power of Twitter.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Echo, thanks for your kind words and great thoughts. I doubt you have much spare time, but you should hire yourself out as a social media consultant. Excellent point about Rob Carrick's facebook page, I think that is an awesome page.

    I look forward to reading your post on the power of Twitter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've found this blog to be quite interesting and educational.

    When you wrote, "I am a partner in an accounting firm and I am often asked by my partners "how is this social media stuff translating into practical results in terms of clients and opportunities," I had to wonder. After all, there are firms out there that spend lavishing on getting their logo and name in front of prospects. Yet I wonder if one could support the claim that spending $500,000 to be a golf sponsor results in $Y new dollars of business. Questioning the return on social media is perfectly fair, but one should also question other forms of promotion and marketing.

    As an accounting firm, I think blogging is an especially powerful and worthwhile way to promote yourself. After all, clients are coming to the firm to seek your expertise and blogging is excellent way to show that expertise. It is also a great way to show your breadth (e.g. estate issues, investment accounts etc) of expertise.

    On a side note, I quite enjoyed the tax season posts. It almost makes me want to get started on my 2012 taxes now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tom, thanks for the nice comments. I also always wondered about golf sponsorhip etc. However, I now realize the decision is probably made by a CEO who loves golfing and wants to play in the pro-am with Tiger Woods and a marketing committee who wants to show off to their friends and have access to the parties and beer tents :)

    ReplyDelete