Chapter 12 of Groundswell changes up the perspective, and moves away from the external groundswell and focuses instead on the groundswell inside your own company. I haven’t (yet) worked for an accounting-focused firm, but I have been involved in organizations that have attempted to use this internal groundswell idea. They have set up internal intranet sites for us to visit every morning and check up on what has happened since we were last in the office, and there is a section for every department to post information about their inner workings and projects they are focusing on currently. As well there is a general social listings area where anyone in the organization can post that they are selling bookcases, looking for a good recreation league to join, running a fund-raising campaign for their child’s school field trip or extra-curricular activities. It is a great start for that organization, but it doesn’t really allow for employees to share their own individual views, as all content has to be forwarded to the Communications department and then edited for clarity and focus.
Energizing a business’ customers is tough. Finding customers that are energized or self-energized can be likened to a Christmas miracle. Finding balanced accountants who are energized about being accountants regardless of their specific designation, and who are honest about their profession’s benefits and downfalls is a little more of a possibility. A problem that I have found as a potential customer of the accounting profession (*puts on her Critic hat again*) is that those members who are honest and truthful about the profession, are not listened to by the profession; the people they “feature” are those who are only say the positive things about the profession (and in some cases to the right ears).
Check out the ICAA‘s CApitalize information magazine. Of the articles I have been able to read through, all of the members only speak to the positive of being a CA, of how great the ICAA is, what types of benefits a person will attain by being a CA, etc. I am not saying that these are not good things, and I am sure that there was some pre-publishing editing that was done, but a little more transparency and honesty are needed in my opinion.
Public Relations is something that does not come to mind when one thinks of accountants and the accounting governing bodies. When people think of PR they believe it is something for the general public, not a particular target market; however, it can be for both.
When the designation merger talks started up recently, it was because of a need for the entire accounting profession to clarify itself and become more marketable. The people behind the merger push listened to the complaints and criticisms of the current systems, from that discovered a need, and started talking and interacting with those who were for the merger, against the merger and unaware of the merger. They got out there and made themselves known to their market.
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.
I feel like I should be prefacing all of my blog entries with a reference back to my Social Technographics Profile of accountants as Critics because it is true; we can be critical, and I find that in most of my blogs entries and thoughts so far I have been, and it seems at times, I need to be. Or maybe I should rename my blog: “Critical Accounting Student: You Have Been Warned”.
In this post, I am going to focus on the procedures featured in Chapter 5 and apply them to a non-online groundswell; rather I will focus on the process of listening, and on the general aspects of the groundswell: people, technology and economics. Chapter 5 of Groundswell is all about listening to the groundswell, and essentially tells us that we may have an idea of what our brand is or means to us, but it is the opinion and perception of our brand by the people that tells the truth.
Chapter 4 of Groundswell covers an interesting method for tapping into the groundswell, the POST method: People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology. As this is an accounting focused blog, I thought we’d try this method out on one of the accounting designation governing bodies, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta (ICAA). As a little backstory for those who do not follow accounting news (*gasp*), the ICAA are the only governing body of CAs in Canada that has removed themselves from the accounting designation merger (CPA) talks. Continue reading
In Chapter 3 of Groundswell: Winning in a World of Transformed by Social Technologies, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff mention their use of the Social Technographics Profile, a tool developed to distinguish the groups of users/consumers who are involved in the groundswell (p. 43); unfortunately they provide an outdated link to the tool on page 59 and readers are led to a 404 page. Within that profile there are seven defined groups that consumers can be a part of: