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Accounting Influenzas: A New Pandemic?

The world of accounting isn’t just about crunching numbers and adhering to regulations; it’s also about influence, sharing knowledge, and shaping the industry’s future. This is a more prominent part of the job now with the number of social media channels and noise being generated.

So, how do you stand out from the crowd and be heard and seen? Do you need to and what benefit does it bring?

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the concept of influencers within the accounting realm, exploring their impact, significance, and the balancing act between being an accountant and an influencer.

What is an Influencer?

An influencer, in any field, is someone who has the power to affect others’ decision-making due to their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience. In accounting, this translates to professionals who are not just adept at their job but also excel in communicating, guiding, and inspiring others in the industry.

To put it simply, those great at marketing themselves. In the world of accountancy, something that does not come naturally – we don’t like blowing our own trumpets 🎺 so if you can nail this you stand a good chance of building an audience.

But why?

Benefits of Being an Influencer for Accountants

For the Individual

Knowledge Sharing: Influencers often possess deep insights and share these, contributing to the collective wisdom of the profession. You have the power to make a difference.

Personal Branding: Being an influencer helps in building a strong personal brand, helping you stand out in a competitive field.

(The concept of personal branding, and even the term itself, doesn’t quite resonate with me. It seems we’ve entered an era where labelling and naming have become essential for packaging concepts and selling them as services. At its core, personal branding is simply about being authentic or striving to be the best version of you. The rest is a matter of semantics.)

Influencer marketing: Software brands (especially software vendors) recognise the reach and engagement of influencers engaging with their target market. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate and promote products and services.

(Just check out the #Ads hidden at the bottom of those glowing reviews in your LinkedIn feed from your friendly helpful fellow accountant. Are you buying it?)

Authentically not AI: Where AI is rapidly making it difficult to know what is real and authentic you can showcase your human qualities, identity, and authenticity. You can build a loyal and engaged audience.

Monetisation Opportunities: There is a diversity of opportunities for influencers to monetise their content.

  1. Brand partnerships
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Ads promotions
  4. Product reviews
  5. Content creation
  6. Digital products

(Do you see your role as an influencer to contribute positively to the community, profession, team, and clients, or is it more about seeking alternatives to traditional accountancy work? If accountancy isn’t where your passion lies, it’s worth considering the impact of guiding others away from the profession, especially when it involves encouraging them to focus on content creation and influencing instead. The essence of improving standards in any field lies in genuine enthusiasm and dedication. Therefore, it’s beneficial for everyone if individuals pursue careers that align with their true interests and passions.)

Personal Growth: As you become an influencer it’s an opportunity for personal growth and development. You’ll need to develop a range of skills and knowledge that can benefit you in all areas of your life and career.

For the Team

Enhanced Credibility: An influencer in a team elevates the team’s reputation, attracting better talent and clients.

Learning and Development: Teams benefit from the continuous learning environment fostered by an influencer’s presence.

For the Wider Industry

Shaping Industry Trends: Influencers often play a pivotal role in driving and shaping new trends and best practices in accounting.

Advocacy and Representation: They can represent the industry in broader forums, influencing policy and regulation.

The Dual Role: Accountant and Influencer

Balancing the technicalities of accounting with the public-facing role of an influencer is a unique challenge. It involves maintaining professional integrity while being engaging and influential.

This is not something we can all achieve and most take an immense amount of effort. For most of us just keeping on top of client work, software changes, managing our teams, implementing regulation and tax changes, winning new business etc is more than enough to keep us busy. The danger of balancing the two disciplines is that the more influential you are the less likely you will be to keep on top of the industry changes. Does an influencer become more about the marketing than the actual substance. Does first mover advantage therefore play a huge part in who is seen as an influencer in your industry?

Leading Influencers in Accounting

How Influence is Measured

The metrics used to gauge social media influence, such as follower count, engagement rates, and content quality on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, are among the key indicators of your online presence. For a deeper dive into the complexities behind these numbers, consider exploring the insights in “The Illusion of LinkedIn Influence.”

The frequency and impact of your publications, keynote speeches, and participation in panel discussions also play a significant role. However, it’s important to recognise that these opportunities are often facilitated by software vendors with substantial marketing budgets, prompting a reflection on the value of genuine influence versus association-based influence.

When it comes to awards, endorsements, and recognitions from professional organisations, their significance can be questionable unless they are directly voted on by clients or employees. The most meaningful accolades are those you haven’t actively sought out for yourself, emphasising that real validation from the people you serve holds far greater value than any vendor-bestowed honour.

Prominent Figures

Identifying key influencers can be subjective, but some criteria include their impact on industry discussions, innovation in accounting practices, and their contribution to professional development.

I genuinely believe we have no idea who the most influential people are in accountancy because they are out there working on clients’ businesses.

The Drive Behind Accountants Becoming Influencers

Is it a disenchantment with the day-to-day of accounting, or a genuine passion for sharing and marketing? While motivations can vary, it’s crucial to recognise that becoming an influencer can also stem from a desire to contribute more significantly to the field.

To create an impact in any field, accounting or not, you do need an audience, willing participants who believe in a common cause. Only then can you start to enact change. If you have the greatest of intentions or ideas but you are an army of one you will not get very far.

So, if we choose to rally behind a person or champion a cause the question, we must ask ourselves is simply who is benefiting from this? My belief is a simple one, if the only person benefiting is the person exerting influence, then it’s not something I can back. If you just want to earn ad revenue and not contribute positively to the wider community, it’s not for me. If we are going to see a wider positive impact, then fantastic.

Risks to Professional Reputation

Balancing Act

Credibility vs. Celebrity: There’s a fine line between being a respected voice and being perceived as seeking fame.

Conflict of Interest: Influencers need to navigate potential conflicts between their personal brand and professional obligations.

Influence or Manipulation?

This is a provocative question. While influence can be seen as a form of power, it doesn’t necessarily equate to manipulation. Ethical influencers aim to inform and inspire rather than manipulate.

The Role of Ego in Aspiring to be an Influencer

In any profession, including accounting, the quest to become an influencer can indeed be intertwined with ego. Let’s unpick this complex relationship to understand why ego might play a significant role and what it means for the individual and the industry.

The Ego Factor: A Driving Force?

The desire for recognition and validation is a fundamental human trait. Becoming an influencer in the accounting world often leads to heightened visibility and acknowledgment from peers, which can be a substantial ego boost.

Holding a position of influence naturally elevates your status within the community. This elevation can feed into your self-esteem and sense of importance.

Ego’s Double-Edged Sword

A healthy ego can be a motivator, driving individuals to share knowledge and contribute positively. However, when unchecked, it can turn into hubris, leading to a more self-serving approach.

With great influence comes great responsibility. An ego-driven approach might prioritise personal gain over the welfare of the audience or community, potentially leading to misguided advice or unethical practices.

Balancing Ego and Altruism

It’s crucial for influencers to be aware of their motivations. Are they seeking to genuinely add value, or is the primary goal self-promotion?

Regular feedback from peers and audiences can help keep ego’s in check, ensuring that the pursuit of influence remains grounded in contributing positively to the field.

The Industry Perspective

Not all influencers are driven by ego. Many are motivated by a desire to educate, mentor, and drive progress in accounting.

The accounting industry benefits from influencers who are genuine and truly committed to the profession’s advancement, rather than just their personal brand.

Conclusion

Influencers in accounting are more than just number crunchers with a social media account. They are educators, trendsetters, and leaders who contribute significantly to the field. While the path of an influencer accountant is fraught with challenges, it also offers immense opportunities for personal growth and industry advancement.

While ego can be a significant factor in the desire to become an influencer, it’s not the sole motivator. The key is finding the right balance, ensuring that influence is wielded responsibly and constructively. For the accounting industry, having influencers who are both knowledgeable and driven by altruistic motives is essential for fostering a healthy, forward-thinking community.

Transitioning into an influencer role can indeed be a pathway for accountants to overcome imposter syndrome. It allows them to affirm their expertise, gain validation, and build confidence. However, it’s crucial to navigate this journey with self-awareness and authenticity, ensuring that the persona they build, and project aligns with their true professional self.