What Your CPA Doesn’t Know About CPA

Oh, mercy, mercy me.

Oh, things ain’t what they used to be.

–       Marvin Gaye

–       Also, numerous old school businesses

It’s true. Things just ain’t what they used to be. Brian Solis posits that social media has changed the way we do business entirely, even presenting a new kind of framework for social business. And in fact, the current shift taking place in which more and more businesses are becoming social has got some old school businesses singing the blues. But why?

It’s not necessarily just adapting to change. Eventually it will come to sink or swim anyway. Instead, what many businesses engaging in social media are seeing now is that their bottom line is changing, and it’s nothing that their CPAs can necessarily talk through with them.

If there are two things every business needs, they’re a lawyer to keep you in the clear and a CPA to keep you in the green. And whereas the lawyer can advise you on staying out of trouble when it comes to using social media for your business, the CPA (certified public accountant) doesn’t know about CPA (cost per action). They can’t tell you what the return is on your social media efforts.

They can’t tell you the value of a Facebook follower or a ‘Like.’ They can’t tell you what a retweet is worth.

Nor could they tell companies like Bank of America or Dell how their bottom line is affected by fielding complaints and negative comments on Facebook and Twitter all day.

Simply put, that’s not the kind of math your CPA does.

(Which makes me wonder if there will come a day when CPAs – or a position like a CPA – will calculate such things.)

As businesses become increasingly more focused on social media, they naturally want to know how those efforts are paying off – but it’s nothing a CPA (or sometimes anyone else, for that matter) can measure. In fact, some things simply can’t always be measured, and you’ve got to be able to adapt and float on.

There’s a seemingly constant debate as to how (or whether at all) social media can be measured. For example, see Copyblogger’s “There is No ROI in Social Media Marketing,” in which CFO Sean Jackson argues that ROI is, perhaps, the wrong term. In contrast, visit Olivier Blanchard’s site, The BrandBuilder Blog, to read all about the case for social ROI.

But whether you believe social ROI can be measured or not, it’s hard to deny that social media is affecting how we go about every aspect of the sales cycle. It’s often how we manage lead nurturing. Social media based conversions are simply becoming more of the norm.

What do you think? Can you picture a CPA-like role for social cost and revenue? Does your business fall into Team Social ROI or Team No Such Thing? Let us know!

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Renee is a writer currently living in Central Pennsylvania (whatever you've heard is probably true). In addition to writing for CEM, she serves as the Managing Editor for Business 2 Community and pursues her dream of once again renting her own apartment (preferably in Philadelphia), if only to house her ever-growing collection of books. She received a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MA in English from George Mason. She's still waiting for someone to write a song about her life so she can just quote the lyrics for her author bios. Catch up with her on Twitter , LinkedIn, or reneedecoskey.com.

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