Ahh; early October, the time when leaves change color and the Oilers playoff optimism is at an all-time high. Today also represents the start of something new and exciting in the digital world; hopefully. Today is the start of my first blog ever. Having never wrote a blog before, I thought I’d start by tell you; my readers, a little about myself.
Currently I am a post-secondary student enrolled in the Bachelors Business Administration program at NAIT, with a special focus on accounting. This current semester will be my last here as I will be completing my 4th year studies. Throughout this time I have taken courses relating to strategy, information technology, countless accounting courses, but never one that specifically focused on social media. As an accounting student I am studying social media marketing, all in an effort to understand how to use these powerful tools to their maximum potential. Outside of school I am an avid sports fan (GO OILERS, ESKIMOS) and enjoy photography, playing Rugby, and travelling the world. Now enough about myself, it’s time to get down to business.
Users of the World
As part of my Social Media Marketing course, we have been asked to read ““Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein. This article gives a brief overview of social media with it being defined as “a group of internet-based applications that builds on the ideological and technical foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p. 61). When I think of these applications that the authors talk about I think of popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the various Wiki’s exist in this day and age. For myself, these sites are access points to the consumption and creation of content that aligns with my interests in my everyday life.
Switching gears from the personal to the professional business oriented viewpoint, I see these sites as opportunities for businesses to reach out and grow their customer bases. In order to do this though, businesses must understand that there are various forms of social media; aside from the examples I mentioned earlier, and that there are different challenges and opportunities with each. The article outlines several forms of social media that I’d focus on for a business perspective, with them being the following:
- Collaborative projects e.g. http://www.wikipedia.com
- Blogs e.g. this blog
- Content Communities e.g. http://www.instagram.com
- Social Networking Sites e.g. http://www.facebook.com
With each of these forms the authors of the article identified a series of challenges and opportunities that I would like to share with you.
- Challenge: Sites like Wikipedia tend to be the main source of information for consumers and consumers tend to believe that information is true. Your business must be aware of what is posted on these sites.
- Opportunity: Internal communication of ideas within your company, thus using less resources to share and generate information.
- Challenge: Consumers and Employees may use blogs as a way to voice displeasure with your company. You must be aware of any negative postings and deal with them appropriately.
- Opportunity: Create transparency between employees and consumers with your business.
- Challenge: Risk of Copyright protected material being shared.
- Opportunity: Engaging customers in creative ways through content creation using your business’ products and or services. Also your company can use content communities to stand out from the crowd.
Social Networking Sites
- Challenge: Sharing content that connects with your business’s market and creating an “online brand” on these sites.
- Opportunity: You can use these sites to directly communicate a message to your target market.
These challenges and opportunities only represent a fraction of what can affect your firm’s success in the online world and it is crucial that you align your social media presence with your firm’s goals.
Accounting and Social Media
Since I am aiming to be an accountant once I am finished with my schooling, I thought I’d share with you what form of social media I would choose for an accounting business.
We accountants are highly trained in various fields of finance, tax and various forms of management, but people don’t realize this. People instead generally think of old stodgy business people who sit at their desk and count money, prepare taxes and balance the checkbook.
In order to shed this outdated viewpoint, I’d have an accounting firm focus on using content communities such as YouTube to get across that message that there is so much more to accounting than meets the eye. With YouTube I’d have videos that embrace a modern look, are fun in nature, and are memorable, but all the while still showcasing the types of services that an accountant offers.
Take the Will It Blend series of videos from Blend Tec. These videos have transformed have transformed the very definition of what we think of a blender is. Instead of just showing their product doing what it is designed to do, they put it to the test by blending everyday objects; from iPhones, computers, toys, etc. They showcase what is usually an unremarkable product and turn it into a fun, exciting viral video that is memorable and creates excitement around their blender.
Sure an accounting firm is very different from a blender, but the concept is of their marketing approach is very much the same with the end goal of creating excitement and changing public perception around the services or products offered. With the power of social media, specifically content communities like YouTube, I’d like to change the public perception of accountants to be more modern like what Blendtec has done with their blender. An accountant could be considered the superhero of the business world, with the vast amount of skills that we offer. The following CPA Canada video really hits home with what I would like to see in a series marketing videos for social media.
Remember for your business to successfully implement social media into connecting with your consumers you must identify which form works best for you as each form can work differently depending on the business. Also each form comes with a series of challenges that must be addressed before implementing. Furthermore when implement a social media strategy, you must identify the opportunities that each has if your company is to achieve the best results with social media.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59-68.