Accountants Are Missing the Value of Social Media
“What’s better than reaching 1.8 billion people on social media?” asked Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, told attendees at Accountex, a major accounting technology show held in Las Vegas this week. “Reaching the right 18 people.”
Kerpen, whose company makes social media marketing software, was talking about nanotargeting, one of the key capabilities of social media messaging – or advertising, if you will, although Kerpen noted that this word is a little antiquated for describing what social media can do for an accountant or practice. Social media is for storytelling, he said, and if you don’t tell the right story today, you can tell a new one the next day – or the next hour – because social media is that flexible, and costs “next to nothing” when compared to the billboards or television ads of yesteryear.
Kerpen used his keynote address at Accountexto show attendees what they might be missing by avoiding social media platforms, or not using them at all. One of the most effective demonstrations he did was simple: he pulled up Twitter and typed in the search phrase, “I need an accountant.” Replicating that demonstration now, some of the top tweets I find are: “I need to find someone that works in finance … management in finance preferred. I would like to interview you” from Twitter user @daLoved1; and “I need an accountant, intern, business manager and assistant. Any takers? #EntrepreneurLife #StruggleIsReal” from user @publyssity. Once that search is narrowed down by region or specialty (e.g., “I need an accountant” + “Denver”), accountants could find a goldmine of leads, Kerpen said.
One of the other key strategies social media offers accountants is the opportunity to listen, Kerpen said. He told the story of how he had been waiting in line for 45 minutes at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas years ago to check in. In frustration, he tweeted, “Waiting on line for 45 minutes at the Aria. Not worth it. #fail.” Aria didn’t respond. But within 60 seconds, the Rio hotel down the strip did, with, “Sorry you're having a bad experience, Dave. Hope the rest of your time in Vegas goes well.” The next time he was in Las Vegas, Kerpen stayed at the Rio. He liked their page on Facebook. He recommended the hotel to his friends. Over the six years since that tweet, he estimated the Rio earned thousands of dollars from him and his circle.
The key, Kerpen said, was that Rio’s message was not a marketing message. It was simply an “expression of empathy.” Rio used social media to listen, not to advertise, and that was more effective to him as customer than a traditional advertisement.
Kerpen began his keynote with a question: How many people in the room have never used Twitter? More than half of the attendees raised their hand. His presentation attempted to take on a type of technophobia that assumes social media is not useful, or too complicated. Not so, Kerpen said. The platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, are already built with the tools necessary to customize the messaging for an accountant or bookkeeper’s specialized practice. All a user needs is the ability to use a search function, filter messages to “nanotarget” the right people, and put in a couple of dollars to widen a message’s reach.