Accountants on Twitter

CPA Exam Candidate Bloggers, They’re Everywhere

Back in the day, there was really only one CPA exam blogger and it was Jeff at Another71 who chronicled his adventures (read: failures) while amassing a large audience of loyal followers who shared in his triumphs and defeats. Over time, Jeff transformed his humble little website from just a soap box for him to complain to an actual career, blowing off the idea of a day job for the somewhat lucrative but always entertaining world of blogging. By all appearances this has worked out for him and it may be no small coincidence that a storm of CPA exam bloggers have followed in his footsteps, including his own team of CPA exam bloggers writing for him at Another71.

The only other longstanding CPA exam blog we can think of is the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ Exam Cram, which has featured a revolving cast of characters over the years, all of whom share their individual CPA exam stories with NJSCPA members and the Internet at large. Who says blogs are dead?


One CPA exam blogger we haven’t seen in quite some time:
The Cooking Accountant
has been at this for awhile now and appears to have allowed a BEC failure to keep her from her blog since June of 2010. Once active in documenting her journey, her last entry reads “It hurts twice as much to learn you have to re-take two parts because you failed one. This is reminiscent of when a little girl riding her bicycle hits a raised chunk of sidewalk and goes flying off her bike, landing on the hard cement. But this time, not only does she scrape and bruise her knee and elbow so bad she can barely get up, but the doll she had in the bike basket is now sitting in the gutter.”

But many other CPA exam bloggers are alive and well and blogging every dirty detail of their lives as CPA exam candidates, at least when it comes to disappointments and annoying coughing girls at Prometric.

My CPA Exam Journey
3 Letters, 1 Day at a Time
Sleep on CPA
No More 74
Mission: Pass CPA Exam
CPA Adventures

The list goes on and on and if I missed any good ones, do let me know.

Here’s my concern: while it’s certainly healthy to form a community of miserable bastards who can share in the joy and misery of the CPA exam experience together, at what point does blogging become a distraction? If you notice, each one of these blogging candidates commit well thought-out, carefully written, decent length posts, something a lot of “other” bloggers don’t always do. So is there an element of procrastination that blogging about the exam allows?

If that’s the case, it’s probably a healthy sort of procrastination. Candidates might be taking a break from the MCQ but they are still focused on their goal of licensure by writing about, thinking about and reading about the CPA exam.

As long as they don’t start using that #twudygroup to talk about movies and their relationship problems, I don’t see the harm.

Why Are Milwaukee Accounting Professionals So Afraid of Social Media?

Having grown up in Milwaukee I can’t imagine 2/3rds of Milwaukeeans are jumping into social media, let alone 2/3rds of the financial and accounting population. If they are, it appears as though they’re not really listening to our advice and should be taking this “transparency” in new media thing a notch or two up.

The Milwaukee Business Journal says that two-thirds of Milwaukee area accounting professionals use LinkedIn and Facebook but not necessarily for business. Trying to balance their professional personas with their real lives as protectors of the public interest, they’re understandably sketchy when it comes to diving head first into the Twitter.


There are really no excuses at this point. Plenty of brands have figured out how to gently skirt the line, stand way back behind a wall of professionalism, interact with just about everyone, make it entertaining with self-deprecating stabs at the “boring accountant” stereotype and completely push the envelope until it falls off the cliff. It’s fine, everyone’s doing it and so far no one’s getting sued.

That statement isn’t entirely true, some companies have taken to suing complainers which is always a great way to drum up business and make people want to give you their money. For those of you afraid of social media, that translates into behavior not to engage in. Being a “sue first, ask questions later” sort of company is always a bad idea so don’t do it.

And if you’re going to put someone in charge of handling social media, make sure it isn’t someone overworked and angry at your company who might tweet that they want to stab the client. Other than that, I’m not sure where this fear of social media comes from but it appears that many Milwaukee accounting professionals don’t understand that your brand is only what you present it to be. As long as no one is threatening to physically harm anyone in your stream, you’re pretty safe as far as whatever else you decide to do. Share links, talk to other professionals, really grow a pair and send a photo of your awesome cube arrangements. Whatever, just get involved and stop acting like it’s a larger, more frightening deal than it actually is. It’s just another way to get business done.

Accounting professionals who lack the non-mandated-by-the-AICPA cojones to jump into the new media game are sort of underestimating their own professional ability to judge what is appropriate and what isn’t. That’s an individual choice for brands, firms and representatives of companies as they interact online but it’s disrespectful to the profession to imply that we as a whole don’t act right on the Internets. Please. The niche is large enough that one may bring whatever they want to the table and mostly not get rejected nor the shit sued out of them for tweeting client Social Security numbers. Don’t we know how to behave?

I’d hope so.

So stop being afraid, Milwaukee accounting professionals, it isn’t going to bite (you in the ass later) because you know what’s right and what’s wrong. You’re a fucking professional, dammit. Let me know when you’re on Twitter, I might follow you.

How Not to Get Unfollowed on Twitter

The last time I attempted a “How Not to Be a Total Asshat on the Internet” public service message in this arena, I was torn apart for being too harsh so I’ll leave out the specifics and stick to the suggestions. You know who you are.

Keep in mind that what works for some doesn’t work for others and vice versa; we’re specifically talking about how to fit in with the accounting crew, not alienating clients, not come off as too spammy and/or maintain a reasonable professional profile using your Twitter account as a point of contact to your brand. All of you are more than welcome to do whatever you want with your Twitter accounts, the following is meant for professionals or brands.


Actually interact – No one is suggesting you follow every person who follows you or go on some mass following spree to artificially inflate your Internet popularity for appearance’s sake but a good balance of @s with following shows some level of interaction. A lot of firms miss this one and organizations can make the mistake of focusing strictly on their own message and ignoring what others are saying. Don’t do that, jump in and say something.

If the thought ever crosses my mind that you might be a robot, you’re probably not doing it right – You know the one; they have the same not-quite-normal headshot as their avatar and profile shot for every hot social media service available and not a single candid pic of this person “in action.” We don’t suggest drunken Facebook shots to remedy this but it would be nice to confirm that the person behind the account is, in fact, a person with a tweet that doesn’t seem prefabricated or a picture that deviates from the Headshot Series 1. When it’s a little too perfect, it appears suspect. People are less likely to enjoy your message if they are too busy wondering whether or not you’re a machine when reading it.

There is a such thing as TMII’m guilty of this one and it’s because I’m really not trying to masquerade as a total professional. Nor am I representing my company when I’m out there tweeting about the crackheads hitting on me at the gas station or meter maids terrorizing me with parking tickets. For some, interacting goes too far and gets way too personal. If you are attempting to represent or have at all associated yourself with your company, be aware that there is still a such thing as privacy. Even if you are only followed by a handful of people, your tweets reach the entire Internet.

RTs and FFs – And please for the love of Bob Herz don’t thank everyone for every RT, nor be the “all day #FF” guy. If you’re spending half your Friday #FFing everyone, you’re A) making unnecessary noise and B) diluting the value you add by suggesting helpful people to follow. Stick to a handful if you’re going to do it all instead of spewing out half your following list.

Oh and auto DMs? They were never really cool and to me they say that you’re too busy to actually say anything to me and inconsiderate of how cluttered my inbox can get. Sorry if this offends anyone who is in love with their own “brilliant” auto DM but I see them as obnoxious. Add to the conversation, not the noise.

How To Get “Monitoring The Conversation” Right

Being an incendiary, I’m used to getting unfollowed, ignored and even blocked (yes @mark_to_market blocked me, Lord knows who else, I stopped caring at 2000) and I’m definitely used to seeing the rats scatter across my stats every time I mention [insert firm or company name here] so it’s obvious to me from my various online interactions that some communications departments are keeping an eye on the conversation.

Since we’re all interested in the accounting side of things, I have to say that I notice more “official-looking” Twitter activity from firms based outside of the US (generally Big 4 coming from the UK or Canada) that leads me to believe most of them are at least keeping an eye on the Google alerts. PwC had the large pair to follow me once, very early on, and probably unfollowed when I started ripping on them for bumbling Satyam. Anyway, someone has to watch what’s being said and a company (or organization) can only choose to engage or not engage.

Engaging, of course, comes in several forms but to vaguely pin down what “engage” means, I’d define it as any activity that alerts others they are listening and/or give a shit.


For Comcast, they swarm Twitter responding to complaints about their crappy service, extortion boxes, and complicated remotes. Not all companies choose to take that route, nor should they be expected to. Protecting or guarding your brand means figuring out how much “engaging” is appropriate as any more or less than is appropriate for your particular organization’s needs will come off as fake, lame or just forced. And no one wants to interact with that.

For Dave and Buster’s, I give them credit for totally engaging me by following me. I’ve been publicly ripping on them for at least a week but I’m not doing it just to be mean, I’d really really like to know what went down with E&Y (welcome to your new gig, KPMG). I’ve never actually been in a D&B and any inquisitive tweets on my part were not returned but so far they haven’t sued me so I guess I’m doing well on that front.

Some agencies choose to completely ignore some of the more “questionable” interaction that isn’t exactly a pissed off customer. They’re already trained to handle that (any social media idiot can teach you how to talk to customers who talk about you in a list of 3 items or more) but they aren’t likely prepared for a fake accounting firm to ask them if newly-single D&B would want to try them out as auditors.

I don’t expect Dave & Buster’s to answer or acknowledge that but following me shows that they are at least aware I’m trying to egg them on and aren’t afraid of my bitch ass. Unlike the fake accounting firm, I’m a voice out there spreading whatever I know about [insert company] to a huge audience. They can’t send me 10,000 free tickets to shut my trap and I’m not exactly making a complaint they can resolve so what can they do? Keep an eye on me?

I admire that tactic. And may leave them alone… I’m more likely to do so if I get a tweet about what happened with E&Y but won’t be holding my breath for that particular @.

I’m Not Impressed With FASB’s New Twitter Account

When @FAFNorwalk launched on August 4, 2010, it was supposed to be an awesome attempt at connecting government accounting to the 439 people interested in it (don’t trip, FAFN, y’all will get your massive following).

The day after signing up, they mustered up the courage to send out their first tweet:

Welcome to FAF/FASB/GASB! Stay Tuned For Updates.


First of all, we’re not sure if FAF, FASB and GASB know this but Twitter accounts are free so you are totally allowed to get your own. As far as I know, you are even allowed to get several as long as you can come up with an email address for it so there’s no need to share, although that can get messy. What if one of you is trying to tweet about the latest comment period (Disclosures of Certain Loss Contingencies – I’m sure that will garner quite a bit of interesting commentary) while the other wants to talk about new lease rules?

Secondly, is this the best they can do? I’d really like to see some more thoughtful commentary from Norwalk that truly opens the conversation. They can think of this as a comment letter in 140 characters.

Thirdly, what’s up with the one and only person FAFNorwalk is following? We don’t know who the hell @Badwissen is but maybe they are just really into FASBs and @FAFN could totally vibe that when they started their little Twitter co-op.

Lastly, let’s try to work a little better on the turnaround, eh @FAFN? Compliance Week already had an entire story up about new lease rules by the time @FAFN got around to tweeting about it… fine, @FAFN tweeted it around 2 and the CW story went up after 5 but still, with @FAFN’s access to insider information, I want to see @FAFN tweets about lease rules a full two hours (or a day!) before anyone, come on.

If you are looking for a truly dull Twitter follow with zero interaction, @FAFNorwalk is totally for you. Personally I like my accounting feeds with slightly more bite, even if that means a simple @ every now and then.

How’s that for a fucking comment letter?

Earlier:
Wonky Accounting Insight in 140 Characters or Less: The FASB Is Now on Twitter

Five Ways Not to Lose Your Job Playing Around on the Internet

Accountants are more prevalent in the social mediasphere than you might think; they’ve taken over Twitter, blog regularly and can even be found figuring out how to make Foursquare relevant to business. But since tapping the potential of social media for business is relatively new, not all organizations know exactly how to use the tools, nor do the understand the importance of a good social media policy within their organization. So here are some tips for making the most out of social media without losing your job. We’re sorry we have to even share these but we’ve seen some of you guys out there in the social mediasphere and it appears you need a reminder.


Choose Your 140 Characters Carefully – If you’re on Twitter and are complaining about your job, understand that the entire world can see you. Even if your stream is private, the great Google sees everything. A few months back, Twitter’s internal search allowed private tweets to appear in searches. I’m not sure if this little hole has been patched but if it hasn’t, you don’t want to be a victim of your own public stream of consciousness. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in an e-mail to your boss.

Ask About Your Firm’s Social Media Policy – Though it’s sort of implied in the firm’s overall policy on communications outside of the company, social media is an entirely different avenue and the rules may not be as cut and dry as the GAAP you’re used to. Not all companies will specifically bar you from blogging on your free time and many turn a blind eye to the activity… until you say something they don’t like. Don’t assume that you’re safe if you don’t share your name or location: it’s fairly easy to reveal your identity if you’re sharing details of your life like where you live and what you do. It gets easier if you’re using a blog to rant about work or out obnoxious coworkers. This applies to positive blogs as well; even if you’re doing the industry a service by discussing current events in accounting, some firms would rather you not say anything at all. Be careful with your details and when in doubt, ask about your firm’s social media policy.

Facebook Friends – You’re not friends with him in real life so don’t be friends with your boss on Facebook. Facebook can be a great networking tool if you aren’t sharing photos of your drunken weekend adventures but if you are, better leave your boss or even coworkers off your friends list. Remember also that Facebook privacy settings can be complicated to say the least; even if you have most of your profile set to private, if you haven’t gone in and changed certain settings, mobile uploads and other photo albums can still appear in search results. That means any nosy coworker out to make you look bad could easily stumble upon your page and access things you’ve posted thinking they are invisible to anyone but your friends. I’m all for being cozy with colleagues but be careful when adding people you work with if you, like 99% of us, use your Facebook to rant, brag and occasionally spout off inappropriate things.

Careful when commenting on blogs! – Listen, we love you guys for contributing but sometimes we have to wonder if you’re playing with a full deck. If you’re commenting from and about work, keep the details to a minimum and use the anonymity of the Internet to your advantage! I have Jr Deputy Accountant readers who work for the banks, the Fed or government agencies but that secret stays between them and me – some choose to create a nickname that wouldn’t reveal who they really are and others stick with “anonymous”. However you do it, remember that if your name is George Stein and you work at KPMG, using GSKPMG2010 isn’t fooling anyone. Talking about salaries or griping about the conditions are totally allowed – if not encouraged – but be smart about it and never use your real name unless you work in communications or don’t mind your boss or colleagues seeing your comments. Once again, remember the great Google sees ALL.

Whatever you do, never forget the Internet is forever – You can delete your Myspace account but since the Internet tends to aggregate information, just because you’ve deleted something doesn’t mean it is gone forever. Case in point: when I write a blog post on JDA, it’s picked up and republished by two news aggregators instantly, which means I’m stuck with whatever typo I missed or stupid comment I made, even if I change or delete it on my own site. It is the same with Twitter as many bizarre websites aggregate tweets about a particular subject, some permanently. So you might be able to zap an obvious faux pas the morning after but it could come back to haunt you if it ends up somewhere else.

Talking Social Media With the New Jersey Society of CPAs

From the very first day we swapped our totally unprofessional Twitter account for one with less F-words and started finding accountants to follow, we have been constantly impressed with the concentration of accounting folks in social media. But in the constantly-evolving world of Internet communication, there are always a few bright spots that stand out as ahead of the curve, and the New Jersey Society of CPAs’ communications strategy sets itself apart as one such bright spot.

We were able to get a few moments with NJSCPA’s Don Meyer to discuss their strategy, successes and the drive behind their major social media push of the last three years. Operating with three goals in mind – driving member retention through a greater level of engagement for current meorking and learning opportunities for current members; supporting existing membership acquisition programs – the NJSCPA has learned to use the power of blogs and social networking to reach potential, new and long-time Society members as well as CPA exam candidates across the country. Turns out that we got way more insight into the NJSCPA social media brain than we can share here and were terribly impressed by their varying campaigns, daring strategy and dedication to delivering information.


AG: First things first: let’s talk about your social media campaigns. What sort of things are you heavily involved in and why?

DM: We launched our first blog, NJSCPA Exam Cram, about three years ago to help guide student members and exam candidates through the exam process. We’ve been on Facebook for almost two years and have attracted more than 1,800 fans. We developed our page to maintain contact with student members who sometimes change mailing addresses and emails following graduation, but we now find that the page is a valuable source of professional and Society information for members in all age groups. Our LinkedIn group, launched almost two years ago, serves much the same purpose, providing information for our members and a place for them to connect. We jumped into Twitter about a year ago. We currently have more than 700 people following us. Our Twitter page is linked to our news blog, CPA Observation Post. We use those tools to provide daily professional and Society updates, but we also use Twitter and the blog to help NJ accounting firms promote themselves.

AG: Is there anything you’ve tried that hasn’t worked out as well as you’d hoped?

DM: We tried a financial literacy blog, but we couldn’t generate much interest. I think there may be too much competition out there and we couldn’t find the right niche. Our financial literacy Facebook and Twitter pages have not taken off as quickly as we had hoped.

AG: Anything that really surprised you when it comes to social media?

DM: I was not a believer in Twitter before we started using it extensively last year. Now I think it’s my favorite social media site. I think it’s a great tool for disseminating news and information quickly and easily. I’m also surprised how successful our Facebook advertising has been. I was skeptical that anyone on Facebook would click on ads promoting our page, but it’s played a key role in helping us promote our presence.

AG: The NJSCPA Exam Cram blog has been around for awhile (we noticed it quite some time ago) and seems to get a great response. Can you tell us more about how this came about and how you select exam candidates to participate? Do you follow them after they’ve successfully completed the exam?

DM: Many of us involved in the Society’s student outreach programs have never taken the exam, so we felt we needed to get the perspective from aspiring CPAs who had experienced the ups and downs. This way if a student or candidate asked us a non-technical exam question (e.g. in what order should I take each section, how should I study, how do you feel when you fail one part of the exam, etc.) we could refer them to the blog. We started out with one blogger but soon discovered that work and personal commitments would preclude any blogger from posting as often as we would like. So we gradually added more bloggers. At the moment, we have five CPA Exam candidate bloggers and one staff person blogger, Janice Amatucci. We don’t have a set procedure for how we pick our bloggers. We ask student members who have been involved with the Society through one of our various student programs or simply ask for volunteers via email or at events. The first five bloggers all passed the CPA Exam and continue to contribute to the NJSCPA by writing articles, serving as team leaders at student events or attending other Society events. To date, we’ve attracted more than 72,000 pageviews.

You can find the NJSCPA all over the place online here.