Ep. 150: Mfon Akpan - Social Media ROI for Finance and Accounting

Mfon Akpan is an assistant professor of accounting at Methodist University. He has a passion for emerging technologies and is an expert in virtual reality technology. He researches new technologies and educational methods to offer students a current, effective, and relative teaching experience. In this episode of Count Me In, Mfon discusses the value of social media and its implications for accounting and finance professionals. Download and listen now!

Contact Mfon Akpan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mfon-akpan-5702325/

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Virtual Reality: https://www.biographbook.com/bookstore/hitchhikers-guide-to-virtual-reality/

TED Talk - "Incorporating virtual reality in the classroom": https://www.ted.com/talks/mfon_akpan_incorporating_virtual_reality_in_the_classroom

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Adam: (00:00)
We're so happy you decided to come back and listen to Count Me In's 150th episode. Welcome to today's conversation. I am your host, Adam Larson, and the speaker for this milestone episode is Mfon Akpan, assistant professor of accounting at Methodist University. Mfon has a passion for emerging technologies and as an expert in virtual reality technology. He researches new technologies and educational methods to offer students occurrent effective and relative teaching experience and his conversation with my co-host Mitch, Mfon talks about the value of social media and its accounting implications for accountants and finance professionals. Stay tuned now and thanks again for listening to another episode of our series.
 
Mitch: (00:51)
Social media is not something that many, you know, accounting and finance people probably keep top of mind, but following, you know, initial conversation here, there are a lot of dots to connect between social media and accounting. So to kick off our conversation, can you please explain why is it important for our accounting and finance listeners to really understand the value of social media?
 
Mfon: (01:15)
Well, I would say that, well, first of all, that's a great question, Mitchell, and I would say in one word data and another word funnels. So when we look at the outage of Facebook and Instagram, that just happened, there was a huge disruption in both of those areas, one data, so information, two funnels. So you have many businesses that use social media to drive traffic, not only to their websites, but also to their physical locations. And this was completely disrupted. So, so many of those, those individuals may say, well, my business doesn't rely on, social media is not that important. What, when it was gone, many, many business owners felt the impact of that. And I think it's important as accountants for us to understand number one, to advise clients on their situation, but also the environment as a whole. And we need to also understand where the environment is going. So, one thing, and we talked about this a bit before the interview was I found out that Facebook was down because I started getting text messages from, from companies and place idea of business with that said, "Hey, come to our website, Facebook is down, this is a chance for you to check out certain things". That's how I found out because I was getting text messages from it. So, you know, understanding how this can impact the flow of business, I think is very important. And I think the outage of Facebook for many business owners was a wake up call on its importance and also the importance of having some type of backup plan, which translates to a strategy on what to do if it's not working. And or if that platform that you are on for some reason is not as popular or as not as, effective.
 
Mitch: (03:32)
Yeah, those are great points. And, you know, we, we talk about data, obviously, data technology, evolution across accounting and finance and, you know, social media, it kind of lives on all of that. So, you know, you don't, like I said, it may not be top of mind, but through our conversation and considering everything that happened with Facebook and Instagram and, you know, we're talking events of the start of October, but, you know, I think there are, are a lot of other points to connect with our listeners. And, you know, we also heavily rely on metrics right in different benchmarks and other data points specifically. So as far as that goes, what kind of social media metrics, really affect the accounting and finance team as these, you know, events trickle down?
 
Mfon: (04:18)
Well, I think it goes back to, as far as social media, understanding that. So from a, I guess, putting at a very simple level, understanding the dashboards on the social media platforms that you're using, that's very important from the side of the accountant, because if you're going to advise your client, you need to have some type of understanding of it, what data is there and what may be relevant to your client. Your client needs to understand it cause needs to understand who's engaging with their content. And when we think about social media, it can be broken down into three areas. So you've got owned, you got paid and earned. And when you think about your, your own accounts, so what you're posting, if it's a Instagram, if it's a Facebook or if it's a Tik Tok understanding, okay, what I post who's looking at it, who's looking at it. What are their demographics? You know, are they moving? And you can also look to, to determine where the traffic is going. Are they coming into the store? If it's a physical location, are they going to the website? If they do go to the website, are they buying same thing. If they go into the physical location, they call that conversions. So understanding that, and really that, that movement of getting people from that social media to your website and location, that's, that's a funnel, what they call a funnel. So understanding that I think is important on both sides. So from the accountant side to the, to the, business owner side, the other thing is that what I tell people is, you know, many people are, are, overwhelmed. They said, well, this is a lot of stuff to learn. And I say, you know, you don't have to become an expert at it, but you should be knowledgeable, particularly if you're, if you're using it for your business, you're posting it. You may be missing out on opportunities by understanding that information. And particularly you need to be knowledgeable if you're doing what's called paid media, you're paying for advertising. You really need to understand, are you effectively using your, advertising dollars on that platform? But if it makes sense.
 
Mitch: (06:46)
I think, you know, for accounting and finance, everybody's looking to, you know, make sense of the numbers, right. And quantify things. And obviously everything you're talking about certainly relates to that. And I think one of the best or most common, however you want to say it, metrics really is, you know, that ROI, what is the returns? So when we talk about that, what is the actual measurement, as far as social media impact, you know, what are some scenarios where understanding ROI is really most important for, you know, the business owner, the accounting function.
 
Mfon: (07:22)
Yeah. It is very important because you want to make sure that it's specifically would that pay media portion. You want to make sure that it's, it's being effective. It's being effective. There's measures, not in the dollar sentence, they call volume and valence, but you want to make sure that, okay, if I'm spending a thousand dollars a month, what does that equal in conversions? What, what is the return for me on that as a business owner and as an accountant, you want to be able to understand if these, these campaigns, as they call them are being a few, if you're advising your customers or your clients to, use paid media, is it being effective? So you, one of the measures as the impressions and the, the overall engagement with whatever, posts, which could lead to further awareness, or again, the end goal is conversion. So, and there's schools of thought on this, the awareness is, is more of the long game where they said that awareness will eventually lead to conversions or sales, and then the conversions. So immediate traffic and then purchases, you know, that that's the shorter term of, of the area. So it's important to understand all of that and to have some sort of strategy, whether it is formal or informal, and to be able to, to recommend and make recommendations to your clients. Also looking at trends. So looking at seeing what works and what does it work. And the, a lot of this is tied into, you know, you, you have the marketing point where there's not a really, you're putting things out in the public public domain. So, you know, some things may work is a lot of trial and error, which may be daunting to some as well.
 
Mitch: (09:29)
So as far as keeping track of all this, right, you know, there are a number of data points that you just discussed and a number of ways to go about really figuring out that return, I suppose. But as far as, you know, providing some kind of insight, what can be used to track these different metrics, you know, are there tools out there? How can our listeners who are interested in learning and doing more in this space, start to apply what it is that we're talking about today?
 
Mfon: (09:57)
Sure. So I'll answer this from that. The answer is, yes, there are many tools and many of the tools that you may see there's different dashboards that will measure it. They, they, from, from my research and investigation, many of these tools, the vast majority are based on something called the Eisenberg EMV. The Eisenberg EMV, and they released what they call the social media index. So, and what this index is, is they put a dollar amount on the likes, the shares, the engagement from various social media platform comments. So from Twitter to Tik Tok to Facebook, to Instagram, they have a whole list. So then you're able to put a dollar amount on your engagement. Why is that important? Well, again, we talked about the ROI, but now you can start measuring the impact and effectiveness in a dollar amount. So you may have a spin, you know, you spend 12,000, 15,000 on paid ads. Now you can take a look at that engagement from the paid ads and put a number on it and say, well, okay, this is really the net of it. This is the return on that investment. What we've gotten back from it as well. Now, the power of that ties into what they call earned media, which is outside what you post and what people are, are, really talking about you putting a value on that. And that's something that I think is very interesting, which can tie into community impact initiatives and spending money in those areas. And then posting, and then getting an ROI on that earned media from those particular initiatives.
 
Mitch: (11:59)
So that community impact that you were just discussing, I think will probably lead nicely into the last question I have for you here, because, you know, we talked a lot about business impact and putting dollars, right. Quantifying a lot of our activity and operations, but I'm sure there are parts of social media that businesses can't necessarily quantify or measure, right. So, and I guess if the answer to that is, yes, it's probably a two-fold response, right? There are certain things that the business can't measure, but can still be valuable, I suppose, kind of like what you were just talking about, but then, you know, maybe there are parts of social media that can't be measured and actually increases risk. I don't know. so, you know, are you able to share some insights into what other, you know, qualitative data points from social media businesses should be aware of?
 
Mfon: (12:50)
Oh, that's very good. So comments, so it's hard to measure comment what people are, are writing. I mean, you can and you'd have to read through all of the comments and try to find all of them, which can be challenging, but to find out what people are saying about you, that's, that's the hard part to measure and they call that consumer sentiment. So it's hard to quantify that, but you can take a look at your analytics as far as your, likes and, and your shares and engagement and impressions. So your engagement on your particular posts. One thing I would say for, let's say a smaller business owner that may be spending maybe $500 to $12,000 in paid advertisements. So their, their budget monthly, maybe between that $500. And, you know, let's say $12,000 range is to think about taking some of that money. And this is something we can advise our clients to, to try taking some of that money and potentially giving some of their product away, giving some of their product away, give, give $200 of the product, $2,000 of their product. If it's, let's say a t-shirt company give 2000 t-shirts to a boys club and then post it and then take a look at the engagement that they receive. Now there's indexes like the Eisenberg EMV. If you're not able to afford that, you can compare and contrast, take a look at the engagement. So this is why it's important to understand that dashboard and your data analytics, because you can take a look at your engagement from your paid ads, from your earned media. So from what you've done, and this can be an incentive for you to do some type of community initiative, right? And, and it could also generate more sales. So it could be a win-win on that side. So there's different ways to, to look at it, but I think it's important to understand it. And, and again, it comes down to, well, there's many points, but I think the two primary are the data and the funnels. So the information that engagement, and then the funnels leading to sales and understanding that.
 
Closing: (15:25)
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