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Social media ‘still a minority interest’ for UK accountants

BRITISH ACCOUNTANTS are increasingly engaging in social media, but the vast majority remain passive observers, a new survey reveals.

The latest annual survey by global information services company Wolters Kluwer, shows that 83% of UK accountants now use social media sites, up almost 8% on the previous year.

Women are far keener to embrace the medium (89%) than their male counterparts (80%), while 100% of the under-30s were fully signed up to its charms, almost double the amount of the over-60s (55%).

Now in its third year, the survey – which sampled the views of 1,300 accountants during October and November 2014 – shows that while social media was well established for personal use in 2011, it is still a minority interest among accountancy firms.

Over half (51%) access social media via PCs, closely followed by 46% on mobile phones, while just over a quarter (27%) opt for a tablet.

Frequency of visit is on the up with a third (33%) saying they visit several times a day – up from 19% in 2011 and a further third visiting at least once a day.

The vast majority of respondents characterise themselves as ‘listeners’ rather than ‘contributors’ to the social media world. Over the previous three years of the survey, the split has remained fairly constant at 80:20 in favour of ‘listeners’. In the 2014 report the ratio has shifted slightly to 76:24.

The report authors say this suggests more accountants are using social media as a promotional platform rather than simply a way of gathering intelligence and information from others.

Among those that never engage in social media, the largest group (58%) say they are simply not interested, while the next biggest tranche (33%) fail to see any benefit.

A few respondents cited 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, as reasons for staying offline.

A Wolters Kluwer spokesman said: “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.

“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.”

LinkedIn was most popular for professional use, but only 27% of respondents say they use it for building their commercial operations. Twitter fared better with 50% of those surveyed using it in their social or business lives and over a quarter (26%) for business alone.

Deloitte has been found to have the most Twitter authority, according to a survey by Coldlime earlier this year.

Only 18% used Facebook for professional reasons and just 14% spent any time on Google+.

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