Why accountants don’t NEED to bother with twitter

A friend suggested I should write a piece about Twitter for accountants as I’m increasingly active on Twitter. Surely then I’m well placed to explain what Twitter is and how accountants can benefit from it.

Instead let me explain why I think that Accountants really don’t need to bother with Twitter.  This is much the same approach as I adopted recently when I wrote about Blogging myths for accountants.

Let’s be clear I am NOT against any of these new communication techniques. Far from it. I love blogging (this is one of three that I write regularly – see links in right hand column of this page). I’m enjoying Twitter and have benefited in a number of intangible ways as a result thereof. I’ve explained how I use it on a separate page of this blog.  I know dozens of people who tweet regularly and I have over 300 followers on Twitter (at the time of writing). [Edit May 2017: Now over 7,000]

But I also understand the accountancy profession.

Accountants

Whilst other commentators may seek to encourage accountants to try new technology, to experiment and to explore new forms of communication I adopt a different approach. I accept that the vast majority of accountants do not aspire to try out these new ideas. They don’t think many (any?) of their clients or target clients are using such tools. They don’t have the time to experiment and to test new ways of doing things.  They don’t perceive the need to do these things.

And actually – I think they’re right. There is no pressing need for them to do so.

Yes, there are ways that accountants COULD use and benefit from Twitter .  Yes, they MAY find ways to use Twitter to help them build their practice and Yes, to do so would put them ahead of the field.

But, will being on Twitter help them avoid client losses? No.

Will it help them to provide pro-active advice to clients? Unlikely

Will it help them to secure more profitable clients of the type they seek?  No faster than any other marketing activity and it’s even less area specific than blogging.

Will it help them to make more money or to increase their profits? No.

Will it help them solve their succession issues? No

The bottom line is that Twitter will not do any of the things that accountants are most concerned about at the moment. As such I cannot advocate the idea that they should explore Twitter as a business tool.

What is Twitter?

I should explain that Twitter is a free online social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as ‘tweets’). Each post or ‘tweet’ is limited to 140 characters in length.

Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them by ‘following’ people in who they are interested.  Users can also send and receive tweets through third party web based applications, iphones and Blackberry devices.  Many tweets contain links to web pages and blog posts.

Anyone with access to Twitter (and one of the third party applications that make it easier to use and understand) can follow the flow of messages and comments, contribute, reply or simply keep up to date.

Regular readers will recall that i recently posted an item: If you’re not on Facebook you need to be on LinkedIn. It’s worth noting that, unlike the Facebook status updates, tweets can be directed at specific twitter users, people tweet much more often than they update their Facebook status, and it is much more acceptable to follow people you have never met on Twitter than it is on Facebook.

I have a number of ideas as to who does and can gain most benefit from Twitter but none of them are remotely connected with accountants in a business capacity so I won’t post them here.

If you are an accountant and you’re experimenting with Twitter do please get in touch, equally if (despite the tenor of this piece) if you decide to try it out. And of course if you disagree with my perspective please add your views as comments to this piece.

[Edit May 2012: For my more uptodate views on twitter please check out the twitter page of this site],

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Mark Lee

Mark is a speaker, mentor, facilitator, author, blogger and debunker. Mark Lee helps professionals who want to STAND OUT and be remembered, referred and recommended using his 7 fundamental principles to create a more powerful professional impact, online and face to face.
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12 replies
  1. Ed Hart
    Ed Hart says:

    Great article! I use Twitter to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there.

    I dip in and out every day or so, and it is no substitute for email or the www.

    It is a type of network, and as such an invaluable (and free) way of getting to know, and be known by, others.

    It is not the answer to life, the universe and eevrthing. But it doesn’t pretend to be. I believe I will get as much out of it as I put in.

    Reply
  2. Ray Stewart
    Ray Stewart says:

    I too have been experimenting on Twitter and using tweetdeck to help me, but I still don’t really “get” it.

    I participate in a UK business forum, I blog regularly and update the business website regularly. If I really went into twitter and linked in and facebook and ecademy and other forums in any more depth, I wouldn’t have enough time left to do any work.

    All these things are useful but not essential.

    My blog is a constant source of interesting searches that people make to find me, and mainly focussing on that in the last year or so has helped the business no end.

    Give people what they are telling you they want – that’s my motto.

    In a year or two other things like twitter will have matured or evapourated into the ether. But if clients demonstrate they want you constantly on there instead of blogging, or forum posting, then we will all have to change and adapt.

    Until then, I am leaving tweetdeck off more and more!

    Reply
  3. Paul Simister
    Paul Simister says:

    Excellent and very interesting blog Mark.

    When I talk to small businesses about Twitter, I get greeted with a “so what?” It is certainly true that at the moment it is more for Internet marketing with a gradual shift into mainline marketing to peers.

    Reply
  4. Phil Richards
    Phil Richards says:

    Thanks Mark, great article and I agree with you that using Twitter wont help the operational side.

    We blog and use twitter, its early days we have a few followers, and its growing. But we can track stats on the blog and the articles are read regularly and new sign ups on the website are comming through steadily.

    We are active on forums too.

    It takes time and commitment, but we are happy with the results too.

    Phil

    Reply
  5. Lindy Asimus
    Lindy Asimus says:

    At one level I agree with your comments and not only for Accountants, but bricks and mortar business owners generally perhaps.

    While there is not necessarily a direct upside to getting involved in online networking, and the road to ‘success’ (whatever that is) can be slow and expensive in terms of time expended, nevertheless I think there is something to be said for looking ‘outside the Bunker’, and especially so for those who advise other business owners.

    One never knows who one may meet on Twitter, that will change the way we view life or busines…

    Reply
  6. bookmarklee
    bookmarklee says:

    Since writing the above I have become aware of more UK accountants and tax advisers who are also experimenting with twitter. So much so that I started a league/listing for UK accountants and tax people. It’s on the Tax Advice Network site.

    At the time of writing it has about 50 people listed.

    Reply
  7. Narayan
    Narayan says:

    The accountants are behind the curtain of an institute. Accountants are backbone of an organization, but most neglected group. Therefore most of the accountants are hesitate to come out of the curtain!!!!!

    Reply

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  1. […] Contrary to Mark Lee’s opinion, should you now consider making use of Twitter? […]

  2. […] Contrary to Mark Lee’s opinion, should you now consider making use of Twitter? […]

  3. […] Mark Lee and I disagree on whether Twitter is useful to accountants. I say yes, he says no. When you see how they’re currently using it in the US then you have to ask about the hidden utility of these services. // About This Post Posted by Dennis Howlett on May 29th, 2009 and filed under Innovation, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response via following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site […]

  4. […] In this connection I refer back to a blog post I wrote last December in which I explained why ‘Twitter is not for accountants’. My views are unchanged despite knowing a handful of accountants who are now active on twitter […]

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