Accounting Software Influencers

Part
01
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Part
01

Accounting Software Influencers

Based on Accounting Web's list of top influencers in the accounting industry, we have identified Kay Bell, Kim Bryant, Rick Telberg, George Papadopoulos (not to be confused with the Presidential advisor), and Brian Streig as among the top US accounting influencers, with Bryant and Papadopoulos being the founders and Presidents of their own firms.

KAY BELL

  • Kay Bell has 10,500 Twitter followers and 1,100 followers on LinkedIn, but only 37 followers on Facebook (which has not been publicly updated since 2011), making Twitter her chief influencer channel.
  • Bell is a journalist and author who focuses on the accounting industry, with a particular focus on taxes.
  • Twitter serves mostly to channel traffic to her main website, Don't Mess With Taxes, which she launched in 2005.
  • While working towards a BA in Journalism and History from Texas Tech University, Bell began her career at a "West Texas daily newspaper" in 1977.
  • However, she soon shifted careers, serving as a legislative assistant and, later, in government relations from 1982 to 1999, before returning to her journalistic roots as an editor and writer for Bankrate.
  • She launched her own company, SKB Editorial services, in 2005, which serves to "take complex financial concepts and turn them into articles that consumers can use to better manage and maximize their money."
  • Bell seems to have maintained her focus on taxes throughout her blogging career, but follows the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Association for Women in Communications on LinkedIn, suggesting that she has some interest in minority and women's rights as well.

RICK TELBERG

  • Rick Telberg has 25,200 Twitter followers and 176,124 followers on LinkedIn. While he has a Facebook page, it is set to private.
  • Telberg graduated with a BA in Journalism from New York University in 1979.
  • He soon emerged as an Executive Editor in numerous financial publications and accountant groups, including Lebhar-Friedman, Thomson Reuters (now SourceMedia), and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
  • Since 2005, he has simultaneously served as President and CEO of two companies, Bay Street Group and CPA Trendlines Research.
  • CPA Trendlines provides "actionable intelligence for the tax, accounting & finance community."
  • Telberg has received a citation from the National Society of Accountants and has "long associations" with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Accounting Today magazine.
  • In his public persona, at least, he focuses all his attention on subjects related to accounting, particularly as it relates to small businesses.

BRIAN STREIG

  • Brian Streig has 2,260 Twitter followers and 499 LinkedIn followers. He does not seem to have a Facebook page.
  • Streig graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a Master's in Professional Accounting (Tax) in 1997.
  • He has tended to stay with companies for extended periods of time: As a Tax Senior for PricewaterhouseCoopers from 1996-2002, as a Tax Manager for The Manigold Group from 2003 to 2007, and as a Tax Director for Calhoun, Thomson + Matza from 2007 on.
  • While most of his tweets focus on tax laws and policies, he occasionally sends more personal tweets about his life, ranging from commenting on what he's watching on Netflix to his interest in dance, acting, and singing.

KIM BRYANT


GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS


RESEARCH STRATEGY

Following from our initial strategy, we continued using Accounting Web's top 100 list as our starting point, as it provided a neutral perspective on the top accounting influencers based on Kred's Influence and Outreach Scores. We then vetted each candidate in order and selected those which fit the project criteria (e.g., eliminating those based in the UK or Australia, or whose areas of expertise did not include taxes and/or business bookkeeping). As Accounting Web focused entirely on the trending Twitter influencers, we pulled matching social media accounts.

Notably, none of the influencers in question seem to use Facebook for anything other than personal purposes, nor did they use YouTube as a major channel. LinkedIn was particularly helpful in identifying other associated websites and blogs and in pulling together coherent biographies of each, though we used personal and company profiles to fill in additional details.

As few of the individuals involved had public and regularly-updated Facebook pages, we have limited insight into their interests outside of accounting. In some cases we have had to make inferences based on which entities they follow on social media; in others, their own tweets provided valuable insight into their other interests.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Accounting Software Influencers: Trending Topics

Due to the sheer number of tweets sent by top accounting influencers Kay Bell, Kim Bryant, Rick Telberg, George Papadopoulos, and Brian Streig, a lack of publicly-available analysis tools, and an incredible diversity of topics covered by each, it is not possible to qualitatively prove which topics are trending among them. However, by analyzing tweets in which one influencer mentions another (as explained in our research strategy below), we have identified four topics that the influencers have discussed with each other multiple times over the last year. Note, however, that these are very broad topics; we did not find any examples of significant trends on more narrowly-focused conversations, such as on particular events in the news.

TAX ADVICE

  • The most common trending topic amongst the top accounting influencers is, unsurprisingly, tax advice.
  • Many of these threads originate in advice columns written by Kay Bell.
  • For example, she breaks down how to qualify for the $500 dependent tax credit and the circumstances in which one might not qualify for it.
  • Similarly, 401-Ks are a frequent topic of conversation among the top US influencers. Specific articles tweeted on this topic range from overviews of 401-Ks for the layman to offering reasons to file one's taxes early rather than at the last minute.
  • It is also common for the influencers to mark important tax-related dates, as when Kim Bryant reminds her audience that October 15 "is the last day to file for most people who requested an automatic six-month extension."

TAX SCAMS

  • Kay Bell often sends alerts about new tax scams, which George Papadopoulos often retweets.
  • The IRS is alerting consumers to two new types of tax scams, the "Social Security hustle" and the "fake tax agency."
  • The Social Security scam involves telling victims that their Social Security Number (SSN) has been "suspended" due to suspicious activity in order to trick the victim into giving up information or even money in order to fix the "problem."
  • In the second scam, a letter is mailed from a fake tax agency claiming bogus delinquent taxes and demanding payment to remove an alleged lien on the victim's property.

BUSINESS AND PERSONAL IMPROVEMENT


CRYPTOCURRENCY

  • One relatively-new trending topic amongst the top influencers is cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin) and how the IRS has declared them to be taxable.
  • The IRS has sent over 10,000 taxpayers letters informing them of potential violations of the US tax code in not reporting income from cryptocurrency transactions.
  • Bell suggests that crypto investors study "Shaun Hunley's tax cheat sheet for Bitcoin owners" as a valuable resource in complying with the US tax code.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We initially thought to survey each influencer's Twitter feed to determine trending topics. However, this proved not to be possible due to two factors: First, the sheer number of tweets by each influencer put such a visual survey well beyond the scope of a single Wonder request. Second, each influencer has their own areas of interest, and apart from the broadest possible subject (e.g., taxes), we found very little overlap between them.

We next looked into sites which track social media usage such as Hashtags.org and SocialBlade. These proved unable to parse hashtags at the level of single users, at least without a paid subscription, being more oriented towards detecting global trends and viral hashtags and memes.

Finally, we experimented with Twitter's advanced search features. In particular, we isolated tweets in which one of the given influencers mentioned another (e.g., retweeted them), as these would suggest ongoing conversations and shared interests. Interestingly, we found that when we isolated tweets in which the target influencers directly addressed each other, the nature of the tweets was almost entirely informal. This also reduced the number of tweets in the past year to a manageable number — but also reduced the sample size to a degree that we cannot quantitatively say that these are what one might normally consider trending topics, only that they are common ones discussed among this particular group of influencers.

Due to the small sample size in the number of influencers, it may be fruitful to take a broader look at trending topics in the accounting industry rather than focusing on the tweets of just five individuals.
Sources
Sources