I know several people that make fun of Twitter much like they make fun of a teenager that ends up in the news for sending thousands of text messages per month racking up a huge phone bill. They certainly can make a good argument. A recent study concluded that more than 40 percent of tweets are “pointless babble.” If you look at the public timeline or trending topics on the Twitter webpage, you’ll see spam, self-promotion, and mundane tweets like “I’m having a ham sandwich for lunch.”
I agree that Twitter has its problems, but I believe that it does have a business application as a powerful educational and collaborative tool. As with any technology, any benefit you derive from Twitter depends on your use of it.
If you’re looking for meaningful information on Twitter, you have to follow the right people. If you’re a CPA or work in accounting, you could start with the Journal of Accountancy, the AICPA, and your state CPA society. You can find most accounting software vendors on Twitter sharing good information. There are hundreds of other CPAs and CPA firms that offer insight in the latest news, and many of them are among the brightest in the profession (I won’t list names here, but they’re not hard to find). Hey, even the IRS is on Twitter.
I’ve learned that there are many benefits to Twitter besides using it as a news feed. I have asked questions on Twitter and received helpful responses, sometimes within a few minutes. I’ve been able to get in contact with many of the leaders in the accounting profession who I wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. By joining the conversation, a handful of people have been able to get to know me (sort of – well, at least they know that I’m a tech-savvy accountant that shares good information, and that’s a good start).
About a year ago, when I began using Twitter, I asked myself, “why would a CPA want to use Twitter?” The answer, at least for the first few weeks, was unclear while I tried to figure the whole Twitter thing out, but now I understand why.