The role of accountants in social media, by Ross Drapalski

My generation takes for granted the ability to retain the ephemeral moments of clarity, through technology and applied science. Such social media as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all feature some loss of productivity in our goal to achieve this end (BBC 2009). For example, many of my acquaintances and I enjoy the simplicity of notifying each other what we are currently doing at the moment, what we will do, and what we have done. This sort of interaction in the social media arena builds a connection with those we trust to be our "social media" friends. Applying this same concept toward accounting is easily done in the instance of an audit engagement. One may be stationed miles from home, on duty of vouching receivables, or offering other services. The simple fact is that, while one may be geographically a long way from friends, coworkers, and family, logging into a computer puts them right next to us. However, this added simplicity of communication is not without its pitfalls. For in allocating our most valuable resource, time and effort, we implicitly perceive an added benefit. This benefit can take the form of clearing an accounting-related issue or scheduling our week. But for all those advantages, our time soon becomes lost in the void of hardware malfunctions, Internet connectivity, and pop-ups galore.

Productivity and social media present a paradox. Initially entering the social media arena seems foolish; the start-up and learning curve costs are high. Setting up a user account can take a substantial amount of time for those unfamiliar with the process. Questions must be answered, e-mails confirmed, pictures and information uploaded. Moreover, in the long run, one's account must be updated to reflect his or her current lifestyle. When all is said and done, it can seem as if logging our activities and communicating through the social media is a bad idea. If, however, we compare the potential gains of continued communication, and features of sites such as Twitter, where only one post is needed to satisfy all your followers' information needs, then communication can serve one's benefit (Twitter 2010). Qualifying the benefits of investing in a social media site is best done through looking at the brief life cycles and user base. It can be difficult to convince the majority to congregate at one location when there are many Nash equilibria in the social media marketplace.

I perceive the relative complexity of social media websites to diminish in the coming years. As our lives become increasingly prone to technological exposure, it only makes sense for there to emerge one dominant meeting ground for professional and personal lives. However, as one generation grows content and another new generation seeks change, I predict a social media to reflect each; a medium that promises interconnectivity between both would be where an accountant should allocate his or her time.

About the author:

Ross A. Drapalski of Coppell, Texas, attending the University of North Texas. Drapalski grew up in New York, but moved to Texas at a young age. As a sophomore worked as a Trek Guide in the Adirondacks, NY, spending the summer leading week-long canoeing or backpacking excursions. His employment allowed him to exchange perspectives on life with financial bankers, stockbrokers, and medical doctors. After that summer, he chose taxation as a major. Drapalski interned in the finance and controlling department of DB Schenker in Mainz, Germany and hopes to return to Europe and work in international taxation.

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