Chapter 6 is all about talking, but more importantly, if and when to talk to the groundswell. The authors provide some advice as to when brands should use social networks to talk with their customers to gain ROI (return on investment): (a) use the Social Technographics Profile to verify your customers are in social networks, (b) move forward if people love your brand, (c) see what’s out there already, and (d) create a presence that encourages interaction.
For accounting firms big and small, and the provincial governing bodies of designations (CA, CMA, and CGA), their current market is full of Critics. These organizations must also constantly be hiring and bringing in new blood to their organizations or face stagnation, and loss of human capital due to eventual retirement or post-designation exits; this new blood is mostly made up of Joiners, as they are soon-to-be post-secondary graduates (most designations require a 4-yr bachelor degree, or at least the equivalent experience and coursework), between the ages of 21-35, and have been around technology for most if not all of their life. Because of this classification, accounting organizations would do very well engaging with their market through social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Now it is harder to determine how to act based upon whether people love the accounting industry’s brands because, no one really likes accountants (don’t lie, you were all thinking it). People find accountants a necessary evil, which is better than being an unnecessary evil.
Currently all of the Big Four firms have Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages to interact with their markets, and most also have spawned off Twitter sub-accounts such as Deloitte’s Life at Deloitte, KPMG’s Campus, MNP’s Careers and Taxation, and PwC’s Toronto Tech Group. Now there are not many (if any) accounting firm or designation fansites (or fanlistings), but there are many blogs, memes and websites dedicated to accounting such as: Going Concern, #howshouldweaccountforme, Jr. Deputy Accountant and re: The Auditors. These blogs do of course make fun of the accounting world, in only a way that those who have been there or will be there very shortly can understand. They call out Big Four firms for what they really are, call into question decisions by the firms to act certain ways, such as PwC’s idea to install treadmill desks in their Atlanta office. Based off of accounting’s general complexity (to the general public), blogs are an excellent choice to broadcast information such as this rather than by trying to tweet an article like this in 140 characters; it gives the visitor more time to invest themselves in what is being written and form their opinion.
Moving on to ROI. Firms calculate ROI all day, they likely get lower level employees like SA1s or SA2s (staff accountants) to do it, but they do complete them for their clients. So why not for their forays into the groundswell? They must assess all of the costs such as equipment (desk, chair, computer, mobile phone, internet connection, electricity), willingness to give up billable time (very important factor), how much will they lose if the employee has to take time to blog or tweet, training (how long will it take an employee to figure out how to do their task), IT support, review, etc. Then based on those costs, they have to look at the returns such as increased clientele, PR value, increased recruits, etc. Honestly, I bet most firms would be doing some NPV (net present value) analysis on top of this because they have to weigh the value of money today compared to 5 years from now.
So from this chapter we have learned how to know when it is time to talk, how to talk, and why to talk; understanding the reasoning behind these concepts and executing them correctly can only benefit organizations in the accounting industry.
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Wining in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA, USA. Harvard Business Review Press.