There’s nothing quite as humiliating as a public fall from grace, especially when you’ve spent your entire net worth on infomercials and bad stripey highlights. For the tax crusader formerly known as The Tax Lady, going quietly into that dark night just wasn’t going to do.
As you can clearly see by her Twitter account, which we have screenshotted for eternal preservation just in case the State of California requires her to take it down, Roni Deutch made a last ditch effort on May 13th to spread word of her press conference last week to just about anyone who would listen. We don’t qualify an “@” as actually listening, but maybe it made her feel better to spam everyone from Consumerist (twice!) to a random “Redneck Zionist” with a link to her video.
Yes, Roni, we saw your video. And we laughed at it. Hard.
In a related note, this is not an endorsement but it appears that @IRSHelpOk is doing it right. Check out the many not-quite-specific-but-pretty-easy-to-figure-out digs at those who don’t obey the rules of their state bar association.
Continuing our series on those in the industry who attempt to use Twitter but fail miserably in one way or another, today’s case study has to do with a tweeter all too frequent among the accounting set: the abandoned account.
You’ve probably come across more than one of these if you’ve attempted to look up certain state societies of CPAs or organizations that appear in Twitter search results but, sadly, feature no picture and maybe one or two tweets from two years ago. It’s obvious, upon checking out the empty bio and single tweet that these accounts belong to tweeters who really wanted to get into the whole Twitter thing but either gave up or got confused and let that drive them away.
I won’t name any names (but one starts with Idaho and ends with Society of CPAs) but one has to wonder what would inspire a media department to go through the trouble of getting their account validated and deciding on that first tweet only to be spooked by the lack of interest or the pure unadulterated excitement of tweeting. What is it? And why bother opening an account in the first place?
We’ve given you guys this lovely piece of advice before (see our interview with New Jersey Society of CPAs’ Don Meyer) but it’s important to remember that you won’t become Ashton Kutcher with 1,000,000 followers overnight and possibly never if you’re tweeting mostly about accounting and all related awesomeness. The niche is small and interest is limited to the couple thousand folks out there who are actively using social media to connect with other like-minded accounting enthusiasts and sources of accounting information. Reactions can be slow to come, if at all, and if you’re trying to break into social media you shouldn’t let the oftentimes frigid audience keep you from trudging ever-onward to meet your social media goals.
You may never get a reaction. You may not get many followers. You may not feel like your message is getting through. But keep doing it and please, don’t end up one of these phantom accounts abandoned in the Twitter junkyard with all the dirty Britney videos and busted dot coms.
Without naming names (I’ll give you a hint, it starts with I and ends in S), sometimes agencies get a little too excited when it comes to social media and make the mistake of jumping in head first without analyzing their target audience’s needs. In the case of the IRS, they’re forgetting that tax dodgers know they use Twitter and Facebook to track down tax evaders (hey, if you’re dumb enough to tweet about your five years of unfiled returns, you totally have it coming) and therefore also forgetting that this might turn a few potential followers off from their feeds.
Despite that, the IRS is happy to announce several new Twitter feeds, including one specifically for Spanish-speaking taxpayers. Hola!
The IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The focus of the IRS Twitter messages will be on easy-to-use information, including tax tips, tax law changes and important IRS programs such as e-file, the earned income tax credit and “Where’s My Refund.” Anyone with a Twitter account can follow @IRSnews by going to http://twitter.com/IRSnews.
Another important IRS Twitter feed, @IRStaxpros, is designed for the tax professional community. Follow @IRStaxpros by going to http://twitter.com/IRStaxpros. The IRS also tweets tax news and information in Spanish at @IRSenEspanol. Follow this Twitter feed by going to http://twitter.com/IRSenEspanol.
The IRS Twitter feeds will work in conjunction with IRS.gov and the IRS YouTube channels to bring IRS information direct to taxpayers. Since August of 2009, there have been more than 1 million views of videos on the IRSvideos (http://www.youtube.com/irsvideos), IRS multilingual (http://www.youtube.com/user/IRSvideosmultilingua) and IRS American Sign Language (ASL) (http://www.youtube.com/IRSvideosASL) channels.
What’s doing it wrong about this? Maybe the fact that the IRS keeps pumping out Twitter feeds a la PwC (who, last time I checked, had a good 30 – 50 Twitter accounts, each with a varying specialty) but still hasn’t learned how to engage, which is an important component to social media as any of us with half a social media brain already know. Twitter users don’t want to be shouted at, they generally want to interact! If I want tax news, I’m far more likely to follow Don’t Mess With Taxes and get it from her instead of wasting my time plugging into a spammy news feed run by our almighty Treasury Department.
Following our previous Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Studies, today we present you with a pretty common tweeter who can be found across any industry, not only our own precious accounting set: the chronic over-sharer.
The chronic over-sharer doesn’t understand that when Twitter asks “what are you doing?” it actually means “what are you doing or interested in that you think might be appropriate to share with the Internet community at large?” This means the over-sharer can mistake Twitter for a translator plugged directly into their own streaming consciousness as well as a diet journal, a livejournal, a teenage journal and a best friend who actually cares to hear what the over-sharer had for breakfast that morning.
The over-sharer doesn’t realize that most people – especially those in our somewhat small accounting niche – don’t care what they ate nor what they think if the thoughts are translated all hours of the day and come out mostly as angry gibberish and inflammatory nonsense. To the over-sharer, losing followers by the handful after each obnoxious tweet doesn’t mean anything, Twitter simply exists as an avenue for their consciousness. Like the audacity of sending out extensive Christmas letters each year to family members you haven’t spoken to in years, it takes a lot of guts to blitz Twitter with personal details while ignoring proper traditions of behavior. Remember, this is the accounting industry we’re talking about. While the over-sharer can be found in any niche, their behavior is especially noticeable in ours as we’re known for being a conservative lot.
No one is suggesting people can’t use Twitter to communicate or flaunt their personalities but there is a line and in our profession it’s important to follow that. You won’t have much luck snagging clients or getting hired if you’re using Twitter to blast coworkers or talk about your personal digestive issues.
Some tweeters get the balance just right, like Francine McKenna and Shane Eloe. See? You can be chatty – even snarky – but please refrain from telling the entire Internet about the consistency of your cat’s puke or about your super obnoxious senior whose head you’d like to chop off. It isn’t cute and you’re forgetting the Internet is forever. That means you might be able to delete the offending tweets once you realize you’ve been acting like an ass on Twitter but the damage to your reputation (or brand) can carry on long after the tweets have been zapped.
Just don’t do it. Keep it professional, people. Lively, conversational and a little personal but professional. Pretend like your boss, colleagues, and all former and future employers have your tweets streaming to their desktops at all hours of the day and remember: no one cares what you ate for lunch unless it’s food porn (SFW) and you happened to eat it with an accounting industry rockstar.
Following our previous Doing It Wrong case studies featuring the over-hashtagging accounting firm, the excited newbie and the hyperconnected crack tweeter, we humbly present you a criticism of one of our least favorite Twitter users: the self-absorbed narcissist.
You can spot the narcissist from a mile away by looking for keywords such as “I”, “me” and “myself.” The narcissist doesn’t really try to make it appear as though they are interested in others nor do they tend to share useful information, only their own personal triumphs, opinions, activities and musings. To the self-absorbed narcissist, this is really all that matters.
The self-absorbed narcissist is pretty easy to seduce into doing your bidding by expressing even the smallest amount of interest in their indulgent self-congratulations. This can be accomplished by retweeting their latest announcement (retweeting an announcement with lots of “me” and “my” statements will earn you bonus points in the eyes of the narcissist) and doing so might even get you a retweet yourself.
The narcissist may collect followers like nerds collect World of Warcraft gold and, if excessively narcissistic, will likely follow only 1 or 2 people to prove just how awesome and appreciated they are. To the narcissist, this is a sign of their importance and status in the Twitter community, as who needs communication when you have awesome credentials and incredible talent?
How can you avoid becoming the narcissist? Interact! Congratulate others, encourage your cohorts and share useful links that aren’t just things you’ve written or appearances you’ve made in the media.
Chances are you know the Hyper-Connected Crack Tweeter and worse, you could possibly be him or her. Tell-tale signs of hyper-connected crack tweeting include constant RTing, endless strings of @s (sometimes to no one in particular) and a nuclear follow cost. If you are unsure of your follow cost, feel free to check here and if you come up nuclear, it may be time to talk about your Twitter habits.
Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder. While it may seem reasonable to the hyper-connected crack tweeter to send out a constant stream of “Thanks for the RT!” notes and 75 #FollowFriday recommendations beginning on Thursday night, if many in your stream are following 100 people or less, you’re basically just cluttering up other folks’ streams and adding very little value while doing so. Because we’re specifically speaking about accounting here, it’s important to point out that many in the profession are new (or newer) to Twitter and therefore likely to be following just a small handful of people. Point being, if you aren’t adding value you’re pretty much just being obnoxious.
Our recommendation is always to look at what others in the profession are doing to get an idea of what is appropriate use of Twitter. We’ve already recommended checking out those on Michelle Golden’s Accounting Awesomeness list for starters but would also point out specific tweeters like MACPA’s Tom Hood, next gen CPA rockstar Jason Blumer and exuberant Scott Heintzelman. What do these people have in common? They all know the importance of interaction without overkill, sharing just enough of their personal views and goings on mixed in with updates on the profession that keep followers informed and engaged. Now that is doing it right.
The hyper-connected crack tweeter makes the mistake of thinking more is better so even more must be even better. Twitter is not a popularity contest and having the most followers does you little good unless you can somehow convert multi-level marketers and pornbots into clients. Since that’s unlikely, the best thing the hyper-connected crack tweeter can do is take a look at why they are tweeting so much and what value they are offering to the Twitter community as a whole.
True value comes from both the connections and the service provided between those connections. For some, hearing what you had for breakfast is an endearing way to feel closer to strangers thousands of miles away who share the same interests and so a bit of that is allowed (keeps people from thinking you’re a tax-obsessed robot without a soul, right?) but sending out 25 #FollowFriday tweets in rapid succession is really just a cry for help and a sign that you need a primer in how to pack the most punch into your tweets without cluttering others’ streams with your nonsense.
Remember people, moderation. I know it’s exciting and it’s tempting to overdo it but let’s all remember that we have a tradition to uphold for the sake of the whole industry and that’s one of calm, collected and not at all easily excited cool.
Continuing with our series on how not to behave in social media that looks at what certain accounts do wrong without actually naming names, we thought we’d take a quick look at a Twitter user that should be all too familiar to most of you. Heck, you may even be this Twitter user, go ahead and stop me if you feel like you’re looking in a mirror.
The over-excited newbie thinks hashtags are great. So great, in fact, that he or she feels compelled to put them in every tweet. This is normal since we’ve seen this sort of behavior in accounting firms as well and they allegedly have media teams to run social media for them. We’re here to tell you for the last time to settle down and reserve hashtags for pre-determined conversations (like a chat that is easily tracked using a hashtag) or selective topics of conversation but not the entire conversation for the love of sweet baby Google.
The over-excited newbie also makes the mistake of jumping in head first without watching how others handle themselves in the arena. With hundreds – if not thousands – of well-established, accounting-related Twitter feeds already in the wild, it doesn’t make sense not to look to them to learn a thing or two about how the natives operate.
Lists like Michelle Golden’s “Accounting Awesomeness” can give you a direct line to some of accounting’s best, try following them for hints on how to behave before attempting to go out into the scary world of Twitter all by yourself. No one is implying that you should get all cookie-cutter on us but there is something to be said for sticking to the script, especially if you have absolutely no idea what you are doing.
The over-excited newbie tends to have trouble differentiating between streaming consciousness and appropriately answering the question “What’s happening?”, often dropping the most mundane details about what the yardboy wore while raking leaves and mistakenly letting threats towards co-workers seep out.
Signs you may be an over-excited newbie? Comments like “I am going to slit my senior’s throat if he doesn’t start doing some of this work” or “My boss is a fucking moron for giving me a raise after all these months of me showing up late every day” are dead giveaways.
Remember: everyone can see what you are doing on Twitter, even if your stream is “private.” That means vindictive colleagues, obnoxious clients and seniors who don’t appreciate being called raging douchenozzles in front of the entire Internet during an engagement.
So if you are the over-excited newbie, don’t worry, there’s hope for you yet. Try refraining from doing much more tweeting until you understand how Twitter works. For starters, stick to being a casual observer. No one is saying you can’t be opinionated or use the tools, however, you might choose. We have to remember our industry and keep in mind that as protectors of the public we have an obligation to conduct ourselves in a certain way.
Think of Twitter self-censoring like a privacy screen, it’ll keep all your nastiness to yourself. Exactly where it belongs.
Because I’ve learned the error of my ways and will never call anyone out publicly again on social media les faux pas (I pledge, instead, to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, mass e-mail and/or BBM to constantly pester the offender into correcting the violation), I figured it would be better instead to just sort of call them out in a manner obvious to everyone but the offender themselves. No need to say specifically who I am talking about, you can probably figure it out.
Auto Direct Messages – One of the most annoying things about constantly using Twitter is being assaulted by auto DMs. What’s extra annoying about this is knowing that people I respect (who – once again – won’t be named) use them to this day. I think the consensus has been that they are impersonal if not disrespectful as you’re not really showing me a commitment to start a relationship by sending me some robot tweet that only clutters my inbox. Knock it off. We’re all very busy. Say something to me if you have to but there’s no need to spam my inbox with your “personalized” welcome message via DM. This is especially bad if you have misspelled something in your really obnoxious auto DM. Stop it. Seriously.
Hashtag Overkill – Somewhat higher on the annoyance scale, constantly hashtagging everything you write in a completely unpredictable, manic pattern. I’m not sure why #compliance is something people are actually searching for on Twitter often enough to require hashtagging it with every mention but to each his own. I’m talking about constantly and excessively hashtagging everything. We know you’re all about diversity and Accounting’s Top Whatever awards but by hashtagging every other word you are merely showing us that you really don’t know how to use Twitter. We expect better out of global accounting firms. I shouldn’t have to name names, you know who you are and you can stop now. Conservatism states that you will knock it the hell off and pick one or two per tweet moving forward.
One Handle Too Many – Is it necessary to create 40 sub-accounts that cover each of your divisions, specialties, scams and locales? I get that firms are global and that’s the whole point of the Internet but once again you’re taking it way too far and getting too excited about this stuff. One smaller accounting firm tweeting consistently, correctly and with a joke here and there is far more effective in my view than 67 sub-accounts randomly over-hashtagging for different global firm specialties. I’ll name names this time, @mgocpa is a great example of doing it right without an entire staff of media people running the show. Come on Big 87654, you guys can afford to put a few more bucks in Internet marketing if you are going to do it. Read one of those “How to Tweet” e-books maybe.
We sincerely hope our suggestions are appreciated here. If they aren’t implemented, we may be forced to start calling people out again.