Social media for the modern accountant

By David Schneider

How can you package all that knowledge you have about tax, pensions and pricing in ways that will cut through the online noise?

19 May 2016

Using social media to support growth

Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are not just great drivers of news, engines of change and creativity, and sharers of pictures of dogs that look like Samuel L. Jackson (Google it, you won’t be disappointed); they can also be powerful tools for modern accountants to leverage themselves within the wider industry and society at large.

Make a strategy

I’ve checked Wikipedia under ‘stereotypes’ and it tells me accountants love ‘to do’ lists, so here's one for Twitter: what are your goals for your Twitter account; who is in charge of it; how much time can you invest; and do you need to change your current technique or content?

First impressions

The stats say that you’ve only got 3 or 4 seconds to convince someone who checks out your homepage that you’re worth following. This starts with your Twitter username (or ‘handle’), your biography, and your avatar and banner pictures, which should have impact and reflect who you are - if you’re creating a corporate account, your company logo might do nicely. Don’t forget that you can also ‘pin’ tweets to the top of the page to entice those potential followers or highlight an upcoming event or campaign.

Keep it snappy

Although you only have 140 characters to play with, I try to aim for 100. Being short and being human is the key. You don’t want to sound like the butler on Downton Abbey, shuffling in to deliver your tweet. For most accounts, aim for a less formal tone of voice, as if emailing a friend. And yes, that includes company accounts. Starting with a quote or an arresting fact can also be a great way to grab your audience’s attention.

Take up space

As a Twitter addict, I try and limit myself to one tweet an hour, but the more normal amongst you should still aim for at least 3 tweets a day to make sure you’re a regular presence in your followers’ home feeds.

Moreover, a simple technique like the use of returns can help make you stand out on someone’s feed – by which I mean paragraph returns, not tax returns. #AccountancyJoke.

Which reminds me – hashtags are a good way to join in the conversations that others are having, so make sure that you use them if appropriate. Remember, however, that if there’s more blue than black in your tweet (hashtags, links, @names), you may have overdone it.

Be topical

Stay tuned in to the recent trends, whether or not they’re related to accountancy, and weigh in whenever you can - even Kanye West’s most recent Twitter war with [insert famous person] could be of use, especially if that person is an accountant.

Tell a story

Your followers want to know that they’re talking to a human being, so make sure to inject personality by sharing things that may be of interest from your life ‘behind the scenes’. Has somebody made a cake in the shape of a calculator at work? Tweet about it. People like cake.

Make it visual

Images, videos, Gifs - these are all visual elements that will attract attention, allow you to convey information more effectively, and hopefully get you more shares and love. If you can, put the extra effort into creating your own designs, but Twitter also has a whole repertoire of readily available gifs whose use will magnify the impact of your tweets, especially coming from a company/business account.

Stay engaged

The whole point of social media is to be social after all. It’s not just about tweeting; it’s also about taking at least 10 minutes out of your schedule to catch up with what's trending and who's mentioned you/replied to you. Respond to them and to others, retweet people when appropriate (or if you have nothing to say yourself), and try to hunt down and engage with influencers in your industry and the social space at large.

Be courageous!

There are a lot of tweets out there, so don’t be afraid to try different things to see if you can stand out. Play with ways to display ideas and create conversations through your own hashtags or polls. It can be scary to do something different, but the rewards can be huge, so why not try something new this week. Good luck, and happy tweeting!

Follow David on Twitter @davidschneider

About David

Best known for his work with the likes of Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan on shows such as "I'm Alan Partridge" and "The Day Today", writer/comedian David Schneider is a Twitter obsessive (240,000 followers and counting) who recently set up his own company, That Lot, with the UK's foremost professional tweeter David Levin, the brains behind high-profile accounts such as @BBCTheVoiceUK, @BBCApprentice and @The_Dolphin_Pub. Together they provide videos, images, tweets and Facebook posts for brands such as Virgin, Nandos and HTC, as well as broadcasters such as Channel 4 and the BBC.

At the cutting edge of new creativity on social media, David has been helping brands and businesses develop new strategies to set them apart from the rest of the herd.