As Twitter, once shrouded in mystery for professionals and corporations that assumed it served no purpose beyond celebrity and civilian overshares, emerges as a necessary business and promotional strategy, the accounting profession has clamored to establish a presence in the Twitterverse.
Like what you see? Click here to sign up for Accounting Today's daily newsletter to get the latest news and behind the scenes commentary you won't find anywhere else.
Now that many of the big names in accounting have done so, another gap has emerged, between those who use the social networking service to spit out impersonal RSS feeds of headlines, and those who truly engage -- with both those big stories and their followers. The best tweeters no longer just tell us the news; they have to comment on it, sharing how it affects them, their industry and their readers (with the occasional light joke, pop-culture reference or lunch recap thrown in for a little levity). Or at least they should, if they want to earn those precious RTs (that's retweets) and mentions. Below, we throw out the popular Follow Friday (#FF) trend, giving you the 10 tweeters we think you should #FollowRightNow.
As president and CEO of the Institute of Internal Auditors and a 30-year veteran of the profession, Chambers has the authority to make declarative statements, which he does often via Twitter. Accompanying his links to the latest economic surveys and reportage on the biggest audit conferences are sage words that can stir up his numerically minded following. Luckily for them, he's attentive enough to follow up and clarify in the very next tweet, turning each of his updates into a new opportunity for enlightened conversation.
Kelly Phillips Erb
The prolific nature of Twitter can make anyone seem busy (or, conversely, incredibly mundane). But you get the sense that Kelly Phillips Erb really, really is. The JD and LL.M in Tax-holding "Tax Girl" balances motherhood with her popular Forbes blog, freelance writing gigs, several forthcoming books and novels, a love of running, and support for her local Phillies. It's no wonder her consumption of coffee comes up as often as her astute answers to followers' questions about deductibles.
With the number of conference or event-related hashtags that populate Hood's Twitter stream, you'd think he owned a #transporter. Instead, the CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs possesses a wealth of knowledge and ideas that only grow with each panel discussion, and thankfully he shares the bulk of it with his followers. He communicates it with the kind of Twitter literacy -- mentioning, RTing, snapping pictures and linking to his FourSquare check-ins -- that echoes his real-life networking efforts that first established many of these very events.
The accountant-comedian hyphenate might seem oxymoronic -- or just plain moronic -- to people who have not met Greg Kyte. Or visited his Twitter page, which boasts a consistently hilarious stream of his punchlines to linked accounting news stories. The 140-character-limited medium might seem ideal for the rapid-fire jokes of a standup comic -- but that's only if the jokes are good. And to prompt reader guffaws at tax policy, auditor rotation and his stubborn allegiance to the out-of-vogue Blackberry, you know they have to be. And the crowd goes RT wild!
Small CPA firm owner Gabrielle Luoma tweets advice and inspirational quotes from her practitioner perspective -- and often her seat at some of the more progressive accounting conferences of the year. She continues communication with those fellow event-goers far outside the banquet hall walls, so that you can follow their exchanges to glean some insight into the movers and shakers of the profession -- and what exactly they are moving and shaking. In addition to Twitter, her activity on Facebook and Google Plus is also an excellent model for how small firms can promote through social media.
Freelance writer and CPA Francine McKenna has shared her consulting and Big Four experience in so many publications and blogs that her Twitter account serves as a necessary hub to track all of her audit advice and commentary on the latest tax news. Even better, here she can be incredibly interactive with her legion of followers, posing the tough questions and answering the tougher ones, as what one follower recently anointed her, "the accounting truth-teller."
Jennifer Warawa, Sage North America's vice president of partner programs and channel sales and leader of the Sage Accountants Network, puts her tweets where her titles are, frequently linking to informative articles on leadership from all over the Web. Her digital curation speaks to small-business owners, entrepreneurs and the smartphone-attached Millennials, who often respond to her meditations on business, as well as her excitement for trying the local cuisine wherever she's typing out her latest comprehensive conference coverage.
When the #wine hashtag appears more than once in a single Twitter feed, you'd expect a generally light tone from the rest of that account's tweets ... and you'd get it from accounting consultant and self-professed nerd Geni Whitehouse, who mixes serious leadership and technology guidance with a hint of geek humor and recommendations for the perfect pinot.
Who doesn't love a good fraud story (when it's not happening to you)? Clearly, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' thousands of followers do, and they're treated to a staggering number of Ponzi scheme and whistleblower stories, in addition to useful tips to help them avoid becoming the ACFE's latest fascinating tweet.
Too many to mention them all, but some of our favorites incude: @IRSnews; @IRStaxpros; Taxpayer Advocate @YourVoiceAtIRS; Dianne Besunder @DianneIRS; William Brunson @BillB_IRS; Michael Devine @MichaelD_IRS; Jennifer Jenkins @JennyIRS
The IRS has an incredibly active stable of tweeters, led in numbers and name by the official @IRSnews, but supported by the @IRStaxpros and @YourVoiceAtIRS sub-accounts (the latter for the National Taxpayer Advocate), and individuals like Northeast IRS media relations specialist Dianne Besunder and IRS spokespeople Jennifer Jenkins and William Brunson. But beware: Following any one or all of these handles immediately eliminates that feeble excuse you were preparing for future blown deadlines.