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Measuring Social Media ROI, ROA, ROE: What’s the difference?

To grow your business, Social Media Marketing could be a very powerful tool in your digital strategy arsenal. And as a firm, you have to rely on data and analytics to inform your processes and strategies. That’s why your ability to evaluate every single effort online is critical, because you can’t improve what you can’t measure. However, when it comes to assessing the success of your social media strategy, things can get tricky because it’s not (always) a question of ROI. Depending on your business goals, you should also look at your Return on Attention (ROA) and/or Return on Engagement (ROE). But Social Media ROI, ROA, ROE, what’s the difference?

Social Media Return On Investment

Social Media Return on Investment is the ability to measure your financial return based on the cost of your social media strategy. And it’s not as simple as investing $100 in social media ads, making $120 in sales out of it, and saying ROI = 20%. No. That’s how you measure your ROAS or Return on Ad Spend.

It’s pretty challenging to measure social media ROI. Because social doesn’t generate direct sales (most of the time). And a lot of things are also involved in the buying decision process such as your website’s loading time and UI, your pricing, your messaging, etc.

So you have to think of social media investment in terms of potential instead of dollars. That’s when you start measuring your social media ROA.

Social Media Return On Attention

Think of it as a granular subset of ROI. Social Media Return on Attention is the ability to measure the attention generated by your social media activities, and the potential for your business.

For example, by growing your follower base, you can easily measure the attention from social media users for your brand. But the benefit of just “following” can’t be quantified in terms of direct sales. Not yet at least. ROA looks at the cost of winning attention — and ROE the efficacy of converting this attention.

Let’s take another example. Let’s say your social media team generates lots of traffic to your online store, result of a very engaging content strategy. That’s great! But what if the conversion rate from this targeted traffic is very low? By limiting social media measurement to ROI, you could easily blame this under-performance on your social media team. “The social media content strategy doesn’t generate any sales, so it means it doesn’t work. Right?” Nope! By measuring the social media ROA, the team can prove that their part of the work is efficient, i.e. driving targeted traffic through social media. So why such a poor conversion rate? Maybe you should investigate a price point too high, a confusing messaging or a poor user experience on your website.

Same idea with native videos. Except on YouTube, most videos are today consumed automatically (auto-play), with no direct action from the user but scrolling down their social feeds. Video views will show if you are getting your audience’s attention. That’s ROA. Engagement on the same video (time viewed, likes, comments, shares, etc.) will show if the content resonates with the viewer. That’s ROE.

Social Media Return On Engagement

Social Media Return on Engagement is measuring all the online interactions your audience has with your brand and its content. Engagement is more and more important, especially with all the recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm and the concept of “meaningful conversation”. That’s the key metric that will make your content stand out.

Social Media ROE is most of the time stimulated by your social media manager’s work — but not only. That includes the “classic” engagement metrics such as likes, comments and shares, but also all the “behind the scenes” activities such as direct messages answered, average response rate and time… Social Media ROE also includes online reviews, number of mentions and hashtags shared, and many more metrics.

 

It’s very important for you business to be able to measure your social media ROI, ROA and ROE. It will help you better understand the effectiveness of your social media efforts, where to optimize your overall social media strategy and make the best of it.

/ Published on Aug. 6, 2018

About The Author

Olivier GRUERE

Olivier is the Founder & CEO of Royal Cheese Digital. He has been working in the digital space for more than 20 years, and in social media marketing since the very beginning, for both B2B and consumer brands. He is based in Los Angeles, CA.