Column: Tricks & Tips
From the October 2010 Issue
In my August 2010 column, I offered some tips for improving email management (www.CPATA.com/go/2894), with the most overriding bit of advice being that, with the ever-increasing amount of email modern professionals receive, it’s more important than ever to be proactive at controlling that influx of communication. This isn’t just for tax and accounting pros, of course, but for all information professionals.
We are also increasingly bombarded with fairly new methods of communication. Although email has only been in widespread business adoption for about 15 years, newer technologies and phenomena such as social networking and text messaging are quickly finding their way into our professional lives, as well. And just as maintaining an effective workflow is important to client service, the same is true regarding how we manage these new communication methods.
To date, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become the most pervasive and widely adopted social media. I wasn’t one of the early bandwagon proponents of these sites for business networking and marketing, but I’ve come to greatly appreciate the potentials they have, when they are used effectively. By now, even most curmudgeonly non-techies have had at least some interaction with one or all of these social media sites. And upon first glance and experience, it is easy to see them as time-wasting endeavors or even potentially negative influences to firm productivity. There are professionals, however, who have essentially spearheaded the development of best practices, mostly by trial and error. These social-savvy tax and accounting professionals have found real ROI in their use of all three of these websites, with trackable new client wins that have added tens of thousands to their firm revenues.
One of these firms is Bordeaux & Bordeaux (www.yourcpapartners.com), a Wylie, South Carolina CPA practice run by husband and wife team Chad and Donna Bordeaux, both of whom are CPAs. Chad’s early adoption and strategic use of Twitter (where he’s @CLT_CPA) enabled the practice to gain more than $30,000 in definitive new client wins over the first few months that he used social media to promote their firm.
How did he do it? By determining what news and information might be of value to small business owners who were also on Twitter. So during the course of the workday, if he ran across an article about a new potential tax or credit for small businesses, he’d post a link to the article and briefly note some insight about how people might be affected. This not only positioned him as an expert on those matters, but also prompted some readers, including existing clients, to contact him for more information about the subject.
One of the keys to his success with Twitter is that Chad and other professionals like Chicago CPA Jody Padar (www.newvisioncpagroup.com; Twitter: @JodyPadarCPA) differentiate between the public relations and marketing aspects, approaching them with a strategy. By creating groups and lists of followers and those followed, users can target messaging more appropriately, such as to Twitter followers in their local area or Chamber of Commerce, as well as fellow professionals or potential clients who are more distant.
Likewise, many firms have turned to Facebook to provide clients, potential clients and general online visitors with a reference point for their firm, in addition to their practice website. This provides an additional channel of communication to those who might find value in their firms’ services, and also adds a human/social element to the firm marketing equation.
So how can other professionals replicate the successes that some firms have had with social networking? It mostly comes down to treating the phenomenon (whether Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other) as a form of marketing for the 21st Century. Not using it will not make it go away, but could instead cause your firm to miss out on potential clients and make the practice appear stodgy or non-technologically adept.