R.O.F. (Return On Facebook): Integrating Social Media and Accounting

    Bultynck & Co. was founded on the principle of providing the highest level of personalized customer service, and our accounting firm still operates under that premise today.

    Business, as a whole, is ever-changing. The accounting industry is no exception. As in any field, it’s crucial for our employees to remain on the cutting edge of business and technological advancements.

    A practicing accountant and partner in the firm, I attend industry seminars and strive to stay up-to-date on changing business practices, new laws and regulations. This is just one way I aim to provide our clients with high quality service and advice they can count on.

    All the while, I return to the same question -“ How can we improve on the customer experience?

    While familiar accounting terms like return on investment, fiscal year and profit or loss remain relevant, we are adding to that vocabulary. At Bultynck & Co. we are now using terms like tweet, Tiny URL, Facebook update and more. We’ve learned that to stay ahead of the game in business, we can’t overlook the online component. That’s why we’ve invested in social media. It is, simply put, another way to connect with our clients and to make our company and our expertise more accessible to the public.

    After all, it’s how you reach new clients. When you need to find a professional, you often go to Google, not the phone book. And while traditional modes of advertising may still apply, prospective clients are also active online.

    Facebook and Twitter have truly become the modern modes of communication. A recent article posted on www.brandrepublic.com (see http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/964910/Youth-flock-Twitter-Facebook-users-start-show-age/) gauges the average age of Facebook users jumping from 26 to 33, while Twitter’s average user is age 31. What’s more, Facebook is now counting 300 million users, with the fastest growing demographic at 35 years and older. Mashable.com estimates that Twitter will grow to 26 million users by 2010.

    No longer catering to teen and college crowds, social media is a growing trend with users of all ages and a useful new business tool.

    Businesses are beginning to see it is a worthy means to reaching new clients, and staying connected to existing customers. It opens a new dialogue and offers a way to monitor what is being said about your business. No longer are we restricted to office hours. Clients can follow us on Twitter and connect to our Facebook Company page to ask questions, seek information or gain insight. It provides that accessibility in a personable way. No one needs to feel intimidated to ask a question or seek out background about our business. We’re there to help, as we’ve always been.

    And we’re not alone.

    The Big Four CPA firms -“ Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers -“ are invested in social media. Even the National Society of Accountants has established a Facebook account.

    By building accounts for Bultynck & Co. on Facebook and Twitter, we are reaching out to a new audience. We are connecting to people who are searching for financial advice. We are becoming part of an ongoing conversation. By interacting online, potential clients have a chance to learn more about our company and decide whether our services fit their needs.

    We use social media to post content we consider beneficial for our online following. As we approach tax time, we have outlined tips to help people, “Make decisions today that translate into tax savings tomorrow.” We also shared those tips individually on Twitter under the hash tag “taxtipsfor2010.”

    Social media allows you to connect instantaneously -“ whether it’s with 140 characters on Twitter, or a status update on Facebook. Only those who find your information useful will continue to follow your updates, so it is important to know your audience, share useful information, and do so regularly. Social media is not a substitute for talking directly with a client, but rather a place where current and prospective clients can learn more about you and your business.

    Social media is an investment. Though the sites are fee-free, it takes time and energy to maintain them. Just as it is important to have a functional and informative Web site, it is possible to augment your reach and grow your business by using these tools. They allow your company to reach a market or audience that otherwise may not be aware of your services. Choose the social media site or sites that best suit your business and move forward with confidence.

    Christopher M. Scott, CPA/PFS, MST, is a partner with Bultynck & Co. P.L.L.C. in Clinton Township, Mich. He can be reached at [email protected].