ROR: Return On Relationship

By allowing marketers to connect with an infinite number of individuals, social media has given us the tools to prolong relationships that would not have been possible years ago. Now the key is to nurture those relationships and utilize them to assist in product creation, improve customer satisfaction, encourage sharing amongst friends, and increase sales.

As we see it, there are two main ways to measure success in social media marketing. First, your return on investment, and second, your return on relationship. Both are equally important and valuable for advertisers looking to develop brand awareness. Here’s a breakdown:

Return On Investment

You are probably familiar with the term ‘Return on Investment’. ROI can be measured by direct sales, indirect sales, web conversions, lead generation, inbound phone calls, etc. Return on investment is critical because it addresses the original purpose of marketing and advertising: to generate dollars and brand awareness. Today, companies are able to track data like email signups or conversions to demonstrate a return on investment.

Return On Relationship

Though ROI is significant in evaluating the profitability of an investment, ‘Return on Relationship’ is the not-so-obvious-but-equally-important measurement tool. ROR is measured through organic engagement, community management, sentiment monitoring and much more. Measuring the return on relationship is not easy, as it involves not only analyzing connection growth, but also measuring the overall sentiment of your consumers voice in relation to your brand. This includes sharing and channel return rates.

So how do you build and strengthen relationships with your audience to increase your ROR? Ted Rubin, leading social marketing strategist and author of the book, “Return on Relationship,” offers a few tips from his blog:

1. Listen

If you want to be heard above the growing social media “noise,” you need to listen to your consumers.  What are they saying, what are they feeling, what solutions do they need?

2. Make it be about THEM

First address what matters most to your audience.  Give them a platform to show you what they need, want, are interested in, and expect.  We marketers like to think that social media is primarily a set of tools for our marketing purposes, but in reality, social media is also a strong set of tools our consumers use to share and influence opinion about our brand.  Our consumers now have “the channel of me.” Consumers’ opinions now create the “reality” of the brand — if enough consumers say negative things about your brand, your brand loses its credibility, and (thankfully) vice versa.

3. Aim for Ongoing Engagement

Building relationships is about starting meaningful dialogue and taking the time to thoughtfully and genuinely engage in ongoing conversation.  Relationships focus on getting to know your consumer and giving them reasons to stay engaged — not just getting them to react.

4. Know the People in Your Audience

Short and simple:  if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people.  Don’t make that mistake!  If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing money down the drain. Relationships ARE the new currency – honor them, invest in them, and start measuring your ROR!


Several brands have already demonstrated their ability to create value and determine their ROR by engaging and capturing the spirit of their fans. As part of its broader digital initiative, Levi’s embarked on a campaign called “Shape What’s to Come,” a program aimed to inspire and unite women across the world around their passions, experiences and causes. With the help of VideoGenie’s platform, Levi’s harnessed the authenticity of video in order to seek out real-world anectodes that answered the question: “Who Inspires You?” The results of this campaign were impressive. 88% of customers who recorded a video shared their video on Facebook and 5% of friend’s viewers recorded a video. Through this campaign, Levi’s managed to engage their loyal customers and inspire new customers, resulting in 98,000 new Facebook fans.

Without assigning a dollar value to Twitter followers or Facebook fans, marketers can count on the fact that engagement and interaction taking place through these social channels are incredibly important to a brand awareness and customer conversion. Building relationships with existing and future customers alike, demonstrates the true value of social media marketing and has allowed brands to develop long-term customer loyalty.


Special shout-out to the incredible thought leader Ted Rubin. Hear more from the source at his blog: