One of the social media marketing buzzwords floating around is “return on investment.” (ROI) This is a metric, a measurement, of how “worthwhile” your social media efforts were.

The problem is, when quantifying, you can’t take into consideration the depth of a networking connection–only things like how many times a post was viewed, tweeted, or commented on. It’s hard to reduce human connection down to numbers, but many marketing experts make an art and science of it.
Even the term itself is scientific. I guess since social media takes time, and time is money, it is an investment. But that implies that your followers and their messages to you are some sort of currency, which defeats the whole purpose of SOCIAL media, doesn’t it?
Then came Ted Ruben, who coined the phrase “Return on Relationship.” (ROR) This change in wording brings a whole paradigm shift. It’s not about how many followers you have so much as it is the relationship you build with them.
To increase your ROI, you employ techniques like catchy headlines, tweet blasts, hashtag abuse, and, for some, what borders on spamming followers–because it’s all about the bottom line of “how many people can see my message.” It’s a lot of talking into the empty air of cyberspace.
ROR focuses on something more important: how many people will READ my message, and, more importantly, how many will ACT on it? To increase your ROR, Ruben suggests that you listen, focus on meeting the needs and desires of your audience, engage with them in the long-term (not just long enough to get a single comment), and, above all, knowing your audience.
Genius, I say. To learn more about ROR and meet some awesome tweeters who are all about it, follow the #RonR hashtag, @tedruben, or read his blog at http://www.tedrubin.com/

3 thoughts on “Wiley Wednesday: Return on Relationship

  1. Awesome post! Thank you for this.

  2. Great advice! It is hard to quantify relationships, and they are exactly what we need. Thank you!

  3. I thought I already commented on this! Sorry about that.

    I love this article! Coming off a newly-minted MBA, I love this stuff. I like the idea "return on relationship," because it sums up so much of what we know about business.

    Over the years of working with small consensus-based groups, as contrasted to my employment which is typically hierarchical, I have found that on average, women tend to manage in a consensus fashion and men in a hierarchical one. That has changed recently with books on such topics as emotional intelligence, but it still is a fascinating phenomenon.

    One would assume, therefore, that women in business would be more oriented toward creating networks. At least in my generation and prior, that hasn't really been proven. As the workforce becomes younger, it's happening more and more, and I think one of the largest changes that might account for it is things like Facebook and LinkedIn. We are beginning, as a society, to recognize the power of relationships and, furthermore, to realize that we have the power to create those networks for ourselves. Thus, "it's who you know" is not longer as intimidating as it was twenty years ago. People are much more willing to connect with each other.

    I think groups like Meetup.com bear this out as well. As much ink has flowed on the topic of modern-day estrangement due to the internet, I think there is a counter-current in society to recreate bonds of community – but now they're based on common interests, whereas before they were based on things like church and work.

    Thanks again for such a thought-provoking article – I've been noodling on it since I read it; sorry it's taken me so long to say something. I look forward to seeing other essays!

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