Milwaukee area attorneys and accountants weigh in on their social media use

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:56 am

Elm Grove-based companies, Clear Verve Marketing and McGrath Marketing Associates recently conducted a social media market research project aimed at understanding the social media habits of attorneys and accountants in the southeastern Wisconsin region.
“Prior to the survey, we were getting a lot of inquiries about how people in the financial and legal world were handling social media networks and company policies,” said Christina Steder, president of Clear Verve Marketing. “Individuals working in those realms have layers and layers of confidentiality and disclosure laws and ethical principles surrounding their communication practices that it was sometime difficult to figure out how social media could work within those restrictions. We felt that providing professional service providers with the opportunity to learn from each other would help everyone.”
More than 600 accountants and attorneys participated in the anonymous study, Steder said.
According to Maureen McGrath, founding partner of McGrath Marketing Associates, the results indicated that two thirds of accountants and attorneys use social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, 71 percent of professionals use social media for professional networking and only 40 percent of accountants and attorneys have concerns about the confidentiality of social media.
“It was really quite interesting,” McGrath said. “We found that smaller companies, particularly single proprietors or those with fewer than ten employees were using it for everything. Their responses were a long the lines of its inexpensive, its fast and they have a large breadth of communication capabilities.”
The disadvantages they saw involved the same breadth of communication and the inability to pull something back if it was unintended or a mistake, McGrath said.
The survey also indicated that the majority of smaller firms, those that are using social media platforms the most frequently, do not have a specific social media policy, and larger firms, who aren’t using it as much usually have a strict policy about what information can be filtered through social media channels and even company wide social media platform branding initiatives, Steder said.
“Those results worry me a little bit,” Steder said. “It just means that a person may not think twice about revealing something online that maybe they shouldn’t because there isn’t a good social media policy in place. It was nice to finally put some numbers on it to show that even if you think you don’t need a formal social media policy that maybe you should have one just to educate those who feel the most comfortable with using social media so there isn’t a breach of confidentiality.”
According to McGrath, the next step is taking a closer look at how firms in the area are addressing those issues of control.
“I think there are some very good progressive firms in our area that are getting their arms around social media and saying, ‘ok it’s out there, we didn’t develop it but here’s how we can leverage it most effectively for our brand and our company and here’s how we can do it safely and effectively within the confines of our industry restrictions.'”
The results have been published in a free ebook available at www.wi-smsurvey.com.

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