- 83% of UK accountants surveyed now use social media sites (almost 8% up on 2013)
- 100% of under 30s engage in social media – and 55% of over 60s
- The popularity of mobile devices continues to rise: only 18% of respondents say they never use a mobile phone to access social media sites
- The majority of accountants surveyed say they are listeners (76%), not contributors (24%)
The latest annual survey by Wolters Kluwer shows that the use of social media by UK accountants has seen a surge, up by almost 8% in the space of a year.
The Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey, which sampled the views of 1300 accountants during October and November 2014, found that 83% of respondents are now using social media sites for professional and/or personal use. When the research was first conducted three years ago, the reported figure was just 69%.
Although social media was well established for personal use in 2011 it was a minority interest among accountancy firms. Now most large commercial companies and many accountancy firms have their own Twitter account.
“As a result, instead of asking ‘do I need to bother with social media?’ an increasing number of accountancy practices are asking about the best way to use social media,” say the report’s authors. “It is against this background that the Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey has been conducted.”
To reflect the growing importance of mobile access, respondents were asked not just whether they accessed social media via PCs, phones and tablets but to state their preferences. Only 18% of those answering this question say they never access social media using a phone and less than a third (29%) say they never use a tablet.
Never Sometimes Usually
Desktop or laptop 3% 46% 51%
Tablet 29% 44% 27%
Mobile phone 18% 36% 46%
Age, frequency and gender
Overall more than eight in 10 survey respondents use some form of social media in either their professional or personal lives and the growing trend in usage is seen across all age groups:
- Under 30: 100%
- Under 40: 94%
- Over 40: 79%
- Over 60: 55%
Accountants are also visiting social media sites more often. This year a third (33%) say they visit several times a day (19% in 2011) and another third visit at least once a day.
As seen in previous Wolters Kluwer social media surveys, usage is higher among women. This year 89% of women report using it in either their personal or professional lives, as against 80% of men.
Listening and contributing
The vast majority of respondents characterise themselves as ‘listeners’ rather than ‘contributors’ to the social media world. In the previous three years the survey has been conducted the split has remained mostly static at 80:20 in favour of listeners. In the 2014 report the ratio has shifted slightly to 76:24. This suggests more accountants are using social media as a promotional platform rather than simply a way gathering intelligence and information from others.
Among those that do not use social media at all, the largest group (58%) simply say they are not interested. The next largest group (33%) fail to see any benefit. When the survey was first conducted in 2011, 18% of respondents excused themselves on the grounds that they did not know how social media worked; the figure in 2014 has fallen to 11%.
In their additional comments a few respondents cite concerns over privacy, a reluctance to share information with others, and the dislike of being contacted by people they would not want to do business with.
Social media influence
• LinkedIn: Ever since the first Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey in 2011, LinkedIn has consistently been rated the most important website for professional use, with networking the clear winner for usage. However, only 27% of respondents say they use LinkedIn for building their commercial operations.
• Twitter: Usage has risen slightly among accountants in 2014, with 50% of respondents using it in their social or business lives and over a quarter (26%) for business alone. The most popular use is following individuals, groups and companies, followed by sharing knowledge and letting people know what they are doing. The influence of accountants in social media is also growing, with 53% saying they have more than 100 followers. Over a quarter (28%) have more than 400 followers.
• Facebook: The use of this virtually all-consuming site for personal communication and networking still remains low for business purposes. Although 80% of the Wolters Kluwer UK survey respondents use Facebook, just 18% of them do so for professional reasons and only 3% maintain an account solely for business purposes. Of those that do, generating business was the most popular use, just behind letting people know what they are doing.
• Blogs: Although they have the longest history of any types of social media, weblogs have consistently been one of the least used. Although usage figures are up slightly in 2014, over three-quarters (78%) do not use blogs at all.
• Google+: Almost three-quarters of respondents do not use Google+ at all, three years after its launch. The proportion using it for professional purposes remains unchanged from 2013 at 14%.
“The simple truth is that the online conversation people are having about their accounting and tax needs will happen whether or not you take part in them,” the report’s authors conclude. “Social media sites play a valuable role in helping tax and accounting professionals share and acquire knowledge, establish their credentials, and extend and maintain their professional network.”
Wolters Kluwer UK Social Media Survey 2014: How accountants are using social media for marketing and promotion. Published December 2014. The survey can be downloaded from www.cch.co.uk/content/wolters-kluwer-social-media-survey-2014