Getting the most out of your OSCPA LinkedIn groups

January 7, 2013

OSCPA’s presence on social media has steadily grown over the past four to five years, but none as much as our communities on LinkedIn. What originally started out as one main group for OSCPA members has since turned into a total of 19 groups consisting of the main group, one young CPAs group and 17 special interest section groups.

To most members, making the switch over to LinkedIn groups for our special interest section discussions presented some learning curves as many were signing up for and using the professional networking site for the first time. Now several months later, most of the bumps have been worked out, but members still have questions on the best way to use the many features offered in this community.

For your reference, we’ve created several short video tutorials showing you how to create a discussion, add comments, links and polls, and how to change your groups settings and make sure you have a secure connection.

Access the tutorials below, or for your convenience we’ve also created an OSCPA LinkedIn Groups playlist on our YouTube channel.

Find these helpful or think that we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Note: OSCPA’s special interest sections are a member-only benefit. To learn more about joining one of our 17 sections, please visit our website.

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Does technology improve our lives, or just complicate it?

September 8, 2010

technology Just recently it hit me that my daughter, who will be one year in October, won’t know a world without smartphones, a trusty GPS, Bluetooth, Blu-ray, iPads, DVR, e-readers, social media, and so much more. Technology is taking over our lives and I’m not complaining, but as a parent of a “Generation Z’er”, I have to wonder just how differently her childhood and her life will be shaped from mine.

I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in high school, à la Zack Morris’ phone in Saved by the Bell (and before that I carried around a pager and had to call home within 15 minutes of being paged). My daughter received her first cell phone at two months old, à la Fisher Price.

Until I started thinking in terms of how younger generations’ lives are affected by technology, it never hit me just how much the average person depends on technology and how it shapes us. So it begs the question, does technology improve our lives, or just complicate them?

After I received my Droid Incredible two months ago, I caved to the curiosity and pressure of Foursquare. Since then, friends and family will probably attest (complete with eye rolls) that technology just complicates our lives after I whip out my phone at each venue to “check-in” to my location. What can I say? I’m always eager to see what my next badge will be, and just maybe I’ll become a Mayor someday.

E-readers are at the top of the latest trends list and at the forefront of minds from students to business travelers. I can see how having such devices can lighten the load and be beneficial to most. But as an avid reader, I much prefer to hold the real deal in my hands and then line them up on my bookshelves. And I shudder to think that there could be any real danger to print media.

Wait a minute, what’s happening here? Technology is supposed to make our lives better, richer and more convenient, but lately I’m finding myself slow on the uptake to these new technologies (not all, but some). It’s not lost on me that this makes me sound like I’m getting old.

How about mobile banking via an app on our smartphone? Again, this falls into the “complicate” category for me, even though I have yet to try it and it’s supposed to be more convenient. There’s just something about it that I don’t trust. I’m sure this will be common place for the upcoming generations, and visiting a bank teller will be no more.

When I threw the question out on Twitter asking if anyone had tried mobile banking I did receive a few replies, one stating that banking with Bank of America on the Droid is bad, and the user claims that one star is too high of a rating, and the other saying that while they haven’t tried mobile banking, they have heard of many people happily using QuickBooks mobile.

A recent article on How Technology Has Changed Business Communications talks about how individuals are growing less socially adept because of the minimal amount of experience they’ve accumulated in face to face interaction:

“The relational aspect of business communications has been changed definitively by the evolution of technology. With email, text messaging, social networking sites, and cell phones becoming more and more popular, face to face communication is become far less frequent. A side effect of this change has been a decreased emphasis on personal relationships with business contacts and clients by some companies.”

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and am now more aware of the fact, but I don’t recall technology advancing quite this fast two to three decades ago. So I’m curious, what do you think about how technology has changed our lives? Does it complicate it? Does it make it infinitely better? Or is a mix of the two? What is your e-reader, mobile banking or other technology experiences?


Can social media revive customer service?

August 9, 2010

customer_service “The last eighteen months have witnessed a huge shift in the way that customers seek help for their customer service queries, problems and complaints,” writes Guy Stephens on the Econsultancy blog.

OSCPA prides itself on having customer service representatives available for members. When someone calls the OSCPA office during business hours they talk with a live person on the other end of the phone. Our Member Services Center, CPAnswers, is dedicated to helping our members, and those who wish to learn more about our organization and the CPA profession. But as anybody who has interacted with OSCPA knows, the organization’s entire staff is connecting with members and other business professionals. OSCPA uses Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging to reach out and join the conversation. Stephens highlights the importance of utilizing social media to redefine customer service:

“Social media by its very nature is highlighting the need for businesses to break down their departmental silos. Stakeholders from sales, marketing, customer services, brand, PR, compliance, business operations are having to come together to redefine, not their social media policies, . . . but the way they fundamentally look at their customers. Social media gives the notion of customer-centricity a chance.”

Poor customer service at many locations has only been deteriorating. Jumping through endless menus with no hope of reaching an actual person unless you choose zero, and even then the “customer service” representatives you reach are most likely outsourced, often speak minimal English and can actually do very little to really help you, is the last thing that I want to deal with when I call customer service to resolve an issue or answer a question.

When I encounter a scenario like this, it usually just ends up with me becoming more frustrated. And what happens when people become frustrated? We complain. And people these days don’t just pick up the phone and complain to their best friend. I, like most people involved in social media, take my complaints online. And I don’t complain to the companies directly. I complain to my Facebook friends and my Twitter followers.

Passive? Yes. Effective? Consider these examples and then decide for yourself.

When Jane Lee, OSCPA manager of Education & Training experienced less than stellar service when Enterprise failed to pick her up at the promised time, she sounded off on the situation on Twitter while she waited:

JaneOSCPA: Apparently when Enterprise says they’ll pick you up that means to add at least 40 minutes to your pick up time.

And as any good company who is listening to their customers, Enterprise contacted Jane to remedy the situation. And because of their quick action and good customer service response, Jane made sure that her followers knew:

JaneOSCPA: Enterprise customer service contacted me in response to my post re: late pickup & made amends! Thx @enterprisecares.

Another example occurred just recently when I attended a webinar on social media. When I registered for the (free) webinar, I expected one hour filled with information on how to “increase your social media marketing ROI for businesses and executives.” The first 20 or so minutes were very informative and I even commented on Twitter that I was attending a webinar from this company:

kvitartas: Sitting in on a webinar on social media with @smmagic.

However, it quickly turned into a hard sell for hiring them to become our social media consultants. I can understand how their services might benefit some, and I should have realized that the webinar was more of a sales pitch had I done more research, but this webinar was quickly becoming a waste of time. Here was my follow-up Twitter comment:

kvitartas: Didn’t realize this webinar from @smmagic was going to turn into an infomercial.

I’m still waiting on a response from the company.

The bottom line if you’re on social networks is to be listening, to find the conversation and join in, and above all else, respond to your customers when they reach out to you! What do you do if you’re not involved in these social networks? Join them. Lurk around and see what people are saying about your company or services, and then become involved.

An article on Social CRM versus Real Customer Service sums up the social media/customer service relationship best:

“We all know that social media and customer engagement are extremely important, but they can only be effective when working hand-in-hand with the right customer support processes. The most important thing for any customer, beyond being able to follow you on Twitter, is to be able to get answers and solutions whenever needed.”

In today’s online environment, customer service and responding to situations quickly is more important than ever. Every company, from the largest corporation to the smallest CPA firm, needs to anticipate that a customer can take a complaint online through social media. This means that when they complain, their complaint can be simultaneously heard by tens, hundreds or thousands of people in their – and their friends’ – online network. It’s a new world, and that means new tools, new challenges and new opportunities abound. Are you using social media when you complain? Are you following others who take their complaints online? Are you prepared for the challenge?


Be part of the conversation

April 9, 2009

Remember the first time you heard the phrase “think outside of the box?” It was probably by someone at your office who was trying to impress you – as if they were the first person to have this breakthrough idea. Too many times, a catchphrase becomes overused and about as valuable as the hundreds of buzzwords that are floating out there now in the mass media.

But the catchphrase “be part of the conversation” hasn’t caught on yet. It hasn’t been overused and that’s because too many people are not part of the conversation. What conversation you ask? The conversation is the dialogue and exchange of information that is going on 24-7 in cyberspace via social media all around you – at home, at work, even at the supermarket.

What’s more interesting is it’s not just your kids. At first glance, social media is primarily used by tweens, teenagers and college students. Not at all! Yes, that audience is definitely making use of social media. But take a look at a few stats about Facebook users:

  • Reports nearly 45.3 million active U.S. users in the last 30 days
  • Growing in every age/gender demographic, with the fastest growing segment being women over 55 (up 175.3% in the last 120 days)
  • Women comprise 56.2% of Facebook’s audience
  • 45% of Facebook’s U.S. audience is now 26+ years old

Sure, you might find your kids on Facebook, but you might just as easily find your mom on Facebook.

Also growing in popularity – especially from a news angle – is Twitter. Simply put, Twitter is texting. In 140 characters or less, you can send a message on what you’re doing, what you’re thinking or what nugget you have found on the Web that you want to share. Twitter is the third largest social network – following Facebook and MySpace.

Who uses Twitter? The better question might be who doesn’t use Twitter. Twitter is becoming the medium of choice for just staying up-to-speed on all issues of interest – whether you are following FASB and their recent fair value guidance, the SEC and the charges pending against Madoff’s auditor or where did Denver trade Jay Cutler.

Social media provides a new type of network for a new type of business world. Being part of the conversation doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to be posting daily. Sometimes being part of the conversation means just being present. Do you want to be part of the conversation or do you want to be left behind?

If you haven’t ventured into “social space” yet, then let OSCPA be your friend out in “social media space.” Find OSCPA on:


Social Technologies within Associations

February 9, 2009

I’m typing this while attending a conference session about how associations need to be more active in entering the world of social networking. It’s an interesting session with a good speaker, but what’s striking to me is the apparent resistance among an audience of association staff professionals. The discussion has shifted to all the downsides of blogs, in particular, rather than seeing the upside and opportunities that come from entering the world of social networking.

Why is that? Why do association executives, who are usually aggressive and focused on the opportunities they see, seem to lose their courage when it comes to being part of the social networking revolution?

I think the answer probably lies in a fundamental lack of awareness. Too many of us aren’t investing the time needed to appreciate the power that social networks represent. We’re all aware of what’s going on, but too many seem to be content to just read articles about blogs, Twitter, etc., rather than actually invest the time to understand and be part of this dimension of the online world.

Just as we all invested time in learning how to master Windows when Microsoft introduced it, it’s time for us to do the same with all the social networking tools. We need to understand how these fit into being part of the “community” we try to create in our associations and how we can leverage them as basic tools in our efforts to “tell the story” about our organizations. They represent great tools to create buzz, and in the future it’s just possible that “community” will be built around these social networking tools as the backbone of our associations. Do you want to be left behind as this happens? I don’t think so.

So what’s an association executive to do? First, spend some time immersing yourself in the social networking tools. Sign up on Twitter and find some people to follow. Then make some observations of your own. For many it will become addictive.

Among the association community, we need to expand the dialogue about how social networking fits into association’s communications strategies. Too few of us – including me – are spending enough time on the strategic side of how social networking is revolutionizing our organizations. The number of association execs who are really focused on social networking must grow – or we’re going to be left in the dust. And nobody wants to have their association be relegated to being irrelevant.


Social media is the newest networking tool for you and OSCPA

January 27, 2009

Social networking has quickly become one of the primary tools of communication in modern society. Students spend hours a week on Facebook, family and friends create blogs to keep in touch with each other and new acquaintances meet through MySpace.

The professional world is no exception to this trend as sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are becoming more widely used by job seekers and employers to help build connections and screen candidates for potential job placement.

OSCPA is no stranger to social media, and while you may not have realized it, the Society has its own arsenal of online tools that can be used to your advantage in a number of different areas including networking, reconnecting with colleagues, discovering new job opportunities and discussing current issues affecting your career.

The list of sites that OSCPA has dipped its virtual hand in is still growing, but you can participate in any of the current online involvements listed below:

Twitter.com

OSCPA has its own Twitter account: @OSCPA. If you haven’t already done so, creating a free account on the fast-growing social networking site where you can post updates about yourself or your career in 140 characters or less can help keep you up-to-date with news, job opportunities and friends.

Once you’ve chosen a screen name and a password and composed a one-line bio, you’re ready to tweet (as posting on this site is called). Simply search the site for OSCPA and you will be directly connected to the Society’s profile where you can access recent updates about membership and advocacy news, as well as a complete listing of other OSCPA media. Skim through posts to find topics you are interested in, and click on links that will take you directly to the information you need.

LinkedIn.com

Using LinkedIn is an easy way to make professional connections and essentially post an online resume at no cost. Creating a bio on LinkedIn is quick and easy and showcases your past and present jobs and accomplishments. OSCPA’s LinkedIn page houses a discussion forum that is open to the public where you can post questions or conversation topics to other members.

Facebook.com

Facebook isn’t just used as an online corkboard for embarrassing party photos anymore. OSCPA’s Facebook page is home to a peer-to-peer discussion board where you can post questions for CPAs or discuss relevant career issues with colleagues. Find advice on what to do as a young CPA just starting out in the profession, or increase traffic to your blog by posting notes to other group members. The page will also provide you with links to other topics of interest in a free, user-friendly environment.

Blogs

The Ohio Society maintains two blogs for its followers.

The OSCPA blog addresses all things “CPA” – from education to news to issues impacting the profession. From this page, read and comment on the blogs that are about you and your business.

Techie Bytes” offers information on all things “Web site-related.” If you really want to boost your social media knowledge, this is the blog for you. OSCPA staff members keep this page up-to-date on the newest ways to organize your life electronically and offer pieces of easy-to-digest technical information for those of us who may not be quite so “techie.”


Why network online?

January 9, 2009

An alien in the world of online networking, I have been exploring social media sites lately trying to better understand the culture. I recently saw a definition of a late adopter to social media as someone who finds a blog accidentally while Googling – that describes my most frequent encounter today.

I’ll admit that this currently makes me a lurker, in the Web 1.0 vernacular, but I think I’m almost ready to turn the page and join in. What is social media? In addition to tools that allow people to engage with a community, it includes news that you interact with, or news that’s contributed by the members of the community.

Exploring social media as a source for personal networking, I’m finding that most of the people in my “first life” communities don’t yet have a presence online. When I search for existing friends I might like to chat with, I find their name on school PTO minutes or in summaries of township trustee meetings. I know that they have e-mail and high-speed Internet, because they’re able to forward jokes and Internet folklore after the kids go to bed, but the real-time interactivity that seems to occur in today’s online networking is missing in my personal circles.

In my professional circles, most of the people who want to “link up” with me are recruiters or salespeople, and thankfully, I’m not seeking that type of networking at the moment. What I had hoped to find were thought leaders, and my initial reaction was that self-absorbed talkers were severely outnumbering the interesting thinkers.

Initially exploring as an observer, what I’m learning is that rather than individual thought leadership, what much of online social networking is about is thought patterns and trend monitoring. As you follow links and connections and see patterns, you gain an understanding of not just what one person is thinking, but what hundreds or thousands or even millions of people are thinking. Social media is a great listening and intelligence tool, and several methods exist to help you filter what you’re looking for. The preference for the tool is personal, as we all learn and interact differently.

The first tool to really intrigue me is Twitter, which I began following when the cyclone disaster occurred in Myanmar in 2008. News reports were discussing the difficulty that disaster relief agencies faced gaining access to the country. I support a first-response disaster relief charity which typically beats the response time of more established aid agencies to a disaster site by hours or sometimes days, and I was curious if they had been able to overcome Myanmar’s barriers to entry. I had just received a news release that this organization was on Twitter, and I subscribed to their feed. I was hooked on their up-to-the-minute reports on how they finally got a plane into the country from Amsterdam, and have been hooked since.

Since then, I was able to view real-time news from witnesses on-site during the Mumbai shootings (and also find out who on my staff was bored during a meeting…) Twitter has lately suffered from some security issues, but it has an ease of use that works for me. What does this have to do with thought leadership? I found a great blog that captures very closely my thoughts on why to follow other online posters.

But once listening, why start talking? Borrowing from a response to the above blog entry, a commenter paraphrases a quotation that it’s important to keep up-to-date with your industry, but not as important as contributing to that industry.

Ernie Almonte, AICPA Chair, stated at the Fall AICPA Council meeting that it’s important for the members of our profession to be up in the balcony looking at the dancers below, so that we understand the patterns of the dance going on in today’s world. But it’s also important to mingle among the dancers, so that we are contributing to and influencing the outcomes of that dance.

Social media is where the dancing is happening today. It’s time to join in.


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