accountingcpd.net author, Anna Faherty, looks at the benefits of social media for accountants, and how a little time each week can pay a dividends.

By Anna Faherty

Less than one in ten accountants use social media as a core route to attract clients, according to a survey by CCH and YouGov. So does this mean there’s no benefit to using social media? Far from it. It could be the tool that just gives you the edge...

The Chartered Institute for Management Accountants (CIMA) have just announced that the few management accountants who systematically use social media "report improvements in their effectiveness”. And they recommend that accountants "consider and think innovatively about how to embrace social networking tools” in order to benefit from improved communications with others in the industry.

In the Adopting Enterprise 2.0 report CIMA also say:

"The use of formal and social networking tools is likely to enhance collaboration with internal and external customers of accounting information and provide an appealing approach to improving customer accounting practices. We suggest the use of these tools is likely to promote greater levels of customer engagement, hence a new way of understanding and serving customers’ interests rather than focusing purely on business interests."

CIMA's research and development manager, Naomi Smith adds:

"Accountants need to take advantage of the opportunities that social networking tools present as they offer new ways of improving communication with others in the business, particularly with those at a distance. By utilising these tools we are giving more power to employees to create their own way of organising knowledge, workplaces, and business processes."

CIMA aren’t the only people pointing out the advantages up for grabs if you embrace social media. In the cover story of the July/August edition of International Accountant, Kelso Consulting report that many accounting firms are yet to wake up to the potential benefits of using social network LinkedIn:

"It is well established that the best source of new business for professionals is their personal network of past colleagues, clients and former clients. LinkedIn is a hugely powerful tool for staying in touch with these people and maintaining your referral network… accountants need to wake up to the value of this tool for bringing in referrals and recommendations."

Of course, signing up to networks like LinkedIn isn’t enough on its own. An article published late last year in Accountancy Age described the world’s largest professional network as "a hugely powerful business development and recruitment tool", emphasising the value of investing time and effort to maintain and develop your contacts on the site. But the investment required is relatively low. They recommend that "thirty minutes a week should easily see you start to reap benefits".

Read more about the CIMA findings at CIMA's website.