As Jeff Drew recently reported in the Journal of Accountancy: “Cloud, mobile, social media, and Big Data are the emerging technologies having the most impact on the accounting profession, according to a survey of more than 400 U.S. accountants released by software provider CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business.”
The report continued: “Eight-seven percent of the accountants surveyed said that their firms could be doing more to leverage technology, but fewer than 15% said they were very confident in the ability of their firms to understand and manage emerging technologies.
The survey found that most firms do not have a written plan for emerging technologies. Only 4% of small firms (fewer than 10 employees) have such plans, compared with 35% of midsize firms (10–49 employees) and 46% of large firms (50 or more employees).”
Few accountants are blogging
The study also reported that 23% of large firms (composed of 50 or more employees), 10% of mid-size firms (10–49 employees), and 12% of small firms (fewer than 10 employees) are currently blogging .
The importance of social media for accountants
Social Media Influence (SMI) recently underscored the rapid acceleration of new business generated by engagement on social media, citing a “study conducted by Austin-based PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit, which indicates companies that fully embrace social media are seeing ‘four times greater business impact’ than their less socially engaged peers.”
And a Kevin McKeown, President of LexBlog, a Seattle-based company providing blogging services to over 6,000 lawyers and legal sector professionals noted recently: “Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. and managing partner of Hinge Marketing has published research based on 500 professional services firms which “…demonstrates that firms with a higher proportion of online new business leads grow faster and are more profitable.”
Why is blogging of particular importance?
“According to the American Bar Association’s 2012 Legal Technology Survey…50 percent of responding small law firms (2-9 attorneys) and 53.3 percent of surveyed solo practitioners that are blogging reported retaining clients directly or via referral as a result of their legal-topic blogging, based on the recently released survey”, as reported by Samantha Miller in LexisNexis. Importantly, as the study indicates: “That’s not just attracting website visitors or fielding phone calls for free consultations, but landing actual new business.”
Seventy-six percent of [corporate general counsels] say they attribute some level of importance to a lawyer’s blog when deciding which law firms to retain, as Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc., reported recently. As LexBlog outlines: “Functioning as a practice development tool, a blog amplifies and extends your networking with clients, prospective clients and referral sources. Typical brochure-style…websites are quickly outdated, static, neutral and passive. Blogs are timely, dynamic, personal and interactive – an agile practice development tool that focuses directly on your target audience.”
Clearly, senior executives in ideal potential client companies and organizations for professional services providers including accountants – are increasingly turning to blogs for news and information of importance to them – and basing favorable hiring decisions on whose blogs they are reading.
Target client base: a highly diffuse Middle-Market
The US middle market has the most potential for new client development for most US accounting professionals – given the needs of these companies and the services US accountants provide. Accountants throughout the world can and should also focus on their respective middle markets – as they will almost invariably constitute the bulk of the potential clients you are likely seeking to serve as well.
According to the Middle Market Center at Ohio State University, in a study entitled The Market that Moves America, “the middle market economy is one of the most important drivers of America’s economy, compromising companies with annual revenue in excess of $10 Million Dollars and less than $1 Billion dollars. If the Middle Market were a country, its GDP would rank it as the fourth-largest economy in the world — just behind Japan but ahead of Germany. They employ 41 million workers, representing a full 34% of total U.S. private employment.”
The middle market is under-served by accountants
The middle market is, however, geographically highly diffuse. As most accountants secure new business from referral sources, their access to new clients among middle market corporate management teams is limited by the scope of those referral sources reach. Therefore, middle market corporate management teams in areas under-served by legal and financial services professionals – a market already under-banked and under-served wherever you are in America — can more effectively be reached by those accountants who take the initiative to blog – putting you a mouse-click away from many more corporate managers than you would gain exposure to otherwise.
Which accountants are already blogging?
Brian O’Connell, President of CPA Site Solutions, compiled in 2010 a very interesting list of accounting blogs. This list is well worth reviewing for any accountant considering blogging.
Relevant social media platforms will amplify your message
As author Jeff Haden recently outlined in Business Insider: “A friend of mine landed his last six clients as a direct result of his participation in LinkedIn Groups.” To that end, one example of a highly influential legal blog with a large LinkedIn Group of the same name is China Law Blog, authored by Dan Harris of Harris & Moure pllc, a Seattle-based law firm.
China Law Blog LinkedIn Group, at the time of this writing, currently has 6,663 members – all interested in discussing topics related to Harris & Moure’s legal practice: China law and business. Accountants would do well to follow the same model about issues of importance to middle market corporate management teams – by creating a LinkedIn Group around your blogs theme.
Prepare now for the future
By engaging in blogging as the centerpiece of a social media effort, accountants will markedly increase their message among potential new clients and referral sources, as well as the journalists who cover business subjects of importance to your clients.
Given the increasing and permanent importance of social media for professional services firms, accountants should now be focused on how to effectively begin an active blogging effort.