APL Accounting News April 2016
APL Accountants will be offering a FREE online advisory forum – is this crazy?
Ok, don’t fall off your chair or have a heart attack, there is always a method in our madness and ultimately you will be the winner in this endeavour!
The use of online communities has been a much raved about ‘big deal’ for a few years now, but its application to veterinary clinics has yet to be tested to find a useful model that does not consume too much time. Generally we have found advice in this area to be pretty generic and results difficult to measure.
A few weeks ago, we made the effort to travel to a non-veterinary conference in Los Angeles to investigate this phenomenon a bit further and attended some courses on ‘creating online communities’ run by a consultant called Robbie Baxter (https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiekellmanbaxter). Here we believe we have found enough enlightenment to at least go for an exciting ‘experiment’ – which of course we will involve all of you, our wonderful clients and colleagues.
After all, if we intend to advise you on, for example, how to increase active clients, before we say the dirty ‘social media’ words, we should at least find a step by step process that WORKS.
So there you go, our intention is to create an online community within one quarter (3 months) and see how far we can go with it. We will carefully document the process and then hopefully be able to create a working model for veterinary practices, or at least offer some advice from a hands-on experience.
Robbie Baxter also has a book which we purchased and read on the way home, so for those of you wanting to have a bit of a read about online communities, this is a good entry level book – The Membership Economy by Robbie Baxter.
A few things that we have learned thus far:
- Possibly one of the mistakes made by many businesses is that they do not give the creation of an online community enough planning and thought. It takes a lot more than just creating a Facebook page and then delegating the administration of it to someone in the building who knows how to showcase their personal life on Facebook but knows nothing about how the back end of the system works – sound familiar? In our opinion this is a recipe for failure and is the current model we see applied in the industry
- Acceptance that there needs to be some work and planning into creating an online community, particularly in the areas of how are you going to get it to propagate virally and how are you going to get users engaged AND keep them engaged. This seems to be one of the most important aspects of any online community.
- Consider that you will have to tie in your social media with a more versatile software platform, so really it’s not just about a Facebook page, but also having some back end software which will be the core of the community. With this, you must realise that there needs to be some financial investment into the endeavour.
- Become involved in some relevant online communities YOURSELF, see how they work and get some ideas! Yes, we are offering you that opportunity right now by joining our crazy experiment.
So now armed with enthusiasm and some general APL craziness, our team will embark on the creation of this online community. Our quarterly theme (for those of you who remember this from our workshops) will be ‘Communities and Groups’. So, of course we now invite you to be guests and join us on our journey / experiment where we will boldly go where no accounting firm has gone before. To join us is simple, just go to:
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7048288/profile then click on the ‘Ask to join’ button.
Or if you are a technophobe, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do it all for you!
From there you will get further instructions on how to access a fantastic information resource!
How and why you should create a LinkedIn profile (and think about Facebook even if you hate it)
Zack is a dog who is a couch potato and has an unusual life experience. His owners who were once exciting vets have now become boring accountants. They used to bring him into the exciting vet practice every day, now they bring him into a boring accounting office every day. This gives him a unique dog’s eye view on both professions.
Pictured above: It’s possible to powernap in public too!
Personally, when it comes to Social Media, I prefer LinkedIn to Facebook. As the CEO of an accounting firm AKA a professional just like all of you, it just suits my image so much better. Now I’m not saying that there is no place for Facebook, but you need to understand the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn to understand their uses! This general rule seems to apply:
Facebook: Great for exhibiting your PERSONAL life, if that’s what makes your tail wag. It is useful to keep in touch with close friends and family, especially if they live far away. Do not underestimate the power of Facebook in the millennial generation! Mom and Dad have young relatives in the USA – they respond within 2 minutes to Facebook posts, they NEVER respond to emails (they read their emails once a week). This aspect has to be considered very carefully because it is likely that in the not too distant future (millenials are now getting to the age of serious pet ownership), Facebook is going to become a way to keep in touch with people. Many experts are saying that Facebook is the goto for promoting services to the PUBLIC (and that’s what most veterinary clinics do).
LinkedIn: Originally created to store online resumes, LinkedIn has evolved as a platform to promote business. Where Facebook gives you exposure to the public, LinkedIn gives you exposure to other businesses – essentially it is a BUSINESS TO BUSINESS showcase when it comes to marketing.
As a professional, LinkedIn helps you keep in touch with other professionals and allows you to form ‘groups’ of like minded people. I also find that the newsletters and articles produced by LinkedIn are very good and relevant to professional people and business owners. As a somewhat reserved canine that wants to stay out of the limelight but still run a business, LinkedIn is a more comfortable space for me.
Please Note: Many of the comments in this publication are general in nature and anyone intending to apply the information to practical circumstances should seek professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances. In particular, please note that ‘Zack’ is a dog and does not have opposable thumbs so has to type with his nose.