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. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

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.