OK for most of us it's the end of the 3rd quarter and for many it's the end of the fiscal year. Time to peruse the balance sheet and check out our corporate health or lack thereof. Did you know that your CFO also keeps a social media balance sheet? Alright, maybe not, but your CMO certainly should. Here's how to read one.
This is of course the "plus" side of the balance sheet. Count all of your sales that have been derived in some form or fashion from social media promotion or engagement. If you have closed loop marketing software, for example integrated HubSpot and Salesforce, this is easy to calculate. If you're doing inbound marketing, a good proportion of your sales leads come from social media. In our case, it's north of 30%. Include accounts receivable of course.
This is your investment in social media that will continue to drive benefit to the bottom line over time. Include software, training, services, reusable content, recorded webinars and miles upon miles of streams of social media updates stored for posterity but retrievable via search and Facebook timelines. Include research and just-in-time "heads-ups" about competitors' new product launches and employment moves. Include Groupon discounts for corporate lunches and travel. Include employee retention cost savings because everyone loves your liberal social media policy.
This is the cost side of the equation. Include salaries and benefits for your dedicated social media people. Include costs for other people in the office doing both productive and non-productive social media activities. A Good rule of thumb here is about 80% of everyone's time (non-productive that is). Include legal fees for attorneys reviewing your social media policy and getting you out of serious trouble. Include outsourced services for inbound marketing and SEO agencies (this should also be about 80% - subtle self-promotion, huh?).
This is the long-term benefit of being a social-media-foreward company. Include increasing valuation as venture capital companies chase you around. Include buy-outs by competitors who can't stand that you are so far ahead in the social sphere. Include huge advantage in hiring millennials and other young-at-heart professionals (like me for example). Include happy family life derived from no one ever talking, as they are always absorbed in their smart phones.
Important Accounting Note: Remember that the Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement are not the same thing! While your Social Media Balance Sheet may look very healthy with all of those long-term investments, you may be broke as an old shoe!
Now, go back to your CEO and convince him/her that all of this social stuff is worthwhile. You have the right document to prove your point.
Photo by Caveman Chuck Coker