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Budgets for Social Media and Shoes

I keep a really organized household budget. I have a very detailed spreadsheet where I track every deposit and expenditure for savings, checking and the credit card. I have a column for every expense we might incur, from bills and monthly payments to columns for gifts, car maintenance, dog food and eating out. Anything you can think of that we consistently spend money on has its own column and its own money allocated to it every month.

Except shoes.

This happens all of the time. I buy a new pair of shoes — and I need these shoes. I have to stay in style, I didn’t have this exact color, they make me feel good and they were on sale. I need these shoes. But I don’t have a shoe column on my ever-so-organized budget spreadsheet. I have a column for car insurance, license plate renewals and my haircut every six weeks, but I don’t have a column for shoes. So I take a little from the gas column and a little from the electric bill column and a tiny bit from grocery and make those shoes fit into my established budget — I can’t increase the money that comes in, but I can reallocate a little here and there to make it work. I do this every month and hope that I have enough gas to get to work and enough groceries to have lunch at the end of the month. And I always do.

Why do I do this to myself? Why don’t I just add a shoe column and work it into my monthly budget? I am certainly organized enough to do so. It would save me the headache of trying to finagle money for shoes each month. I have proven over years that I can decrease certain columns and still have enough to do what I need to do. So why not just do it?

The same is true for social media in your marketing budget. You know you need to allocate money to social and you want to. But you haven’t given social media its own column in your marketing budget spreadsheet yet. You either omit social from your marketing plan because there isn’t a column (“budget”) for it, or you take a little from here and a little from there, when you have the money to do so, and throw it at social randomly.

This can cause two things:

1. A headache every month as you try to scrape money from one marketing column or another in an effort to have a social presence and stay competitive in your marketplace.

2. A half-hearted social media marketing strategy that only gets attention when you have time to scrape money together and do something with it. This leads to a lot of wasted time and resources because you don’t have a consistent social presence, and what little audience you do build won’t stick around to become engaged advocates for your brand.

So what do we do? I think it is time for both of us to sit down and take a hard look at our budgets. What happens if you buy one less spot in Grey’s Anatomy every month in only one or two markets you buy? Bam! There is your social budget. What if you run a print ad one size smaller, which is still proven to be effective? Social budget. What if you buy one less second-tier radio station in a couple of the markets you are in each month? Social budget. We aren’t talking about restructuring your entire marketing budget — just reallocating a little from here and a little from there to create a new and very important column on your budget spreadsheet: social media.

You can find money in the marketing budget for social media. I can find money in my household budget for shoes. But it takes a little research and a good look at the current plan to change the budget and add a column. I have added a shoe column. Have you added a social column?