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The 3 Rs: Addressing the Issue of Social Media ROI

Ever since the first early adopter brands recognised the potential in social media marketing, return on investment (ROI) has been under scrutiny. Whether it be allocating resources for creating content and running accounts or putting media spend behind content, brands have always been sceptical of the ROI value. Currently, social media marketers view sales as the most important KPI and almost have to disregard other statistics as they are under pressure to deliver quantifiable results to clients or department heads.

Whilst some brands have great success with conversions on social media due to the nature of their products, the majority of brands struggle to attribute high sales to the activity on their social media platforms. This normally results in brands scaling back on spending on social media and putting money into other areas of the business. In order to fully understand the ROI from social media, we need to change the way we look at it and how we can effectively utilise it going forward. This is where the 3 Rs come in.

The 3 Rs allow us to recalibrate social media marketing so that it’s in line with consumer expectations and to progress social media marketing into 2019 and beyond. So, without further ado, let’s introduce you to the first R:


Currently, brands are placing too much emphasis on sales as the only benchmark of ROI when it comes to social media. When they don’t reach the sales targets forecast, they tend to move away from social media marketing as they perceive it as having low ROI.

This is causing social media campaigns to be solely focused on sales and all other KPIs are viewed as a by-product of the campaign. The reality is that many consumers are reluctant to engage with content that is too sales focused, while some are simply not ready or willing to purchase from social media. Instead, consumers look to use social media as a research tool to guide them towards a buying decision further on down the line, whether that be online or in a physical store.

When users receive brand content on social media, they are more likely to be at the awareness and consideration stage and are more receptive to this type of content over a sales advert. This is where social media’s true ROI lies as it addresses these stages of the sales funnel rather than the direct attribution of sales. With this knowledge, we can now start to understand how to harness the power of social media by using it for its main role of awareness and consideration. This creates a need to shift focus from KPIs such as conversions and direct sales to other areas such as engagement and reach.


Now that we have been able to redefine what ROI is, it is important to understand what consumers expectations are going forward on social media. By aligning with consumer expectations, strategy can be directed to achieve our now redefined ROI. For this, we need to consult trends going forward and examine how consumers are responding to content and brands on social media. Sprout’s Social Index 2018 provides data and analysis of what content social media marketers are creating versus what consumers are actually engaging with on social media.

As we can see from the statistics above, what marketers are posting is not aligned with what consumers want on social media. As well as understanding what consumers want, we need to understand how consumers behave and the actions they take towards brand content:

  • Consumers are 50% more likely to engage with posts showcasing new products and offerings than share them. (Sprout Social Index, 2018)
  • Consumers are 90% more likely to engage with posts that showcase company personality and announce company happenings than they are to share with friends on social. (Sprout Social Index, 2018)
  • Consumers are 31% more likely to engage with storytelling content than share it. (Sprout Social Index, 2018)

As we can see, consumers are much more likely to engage with content rather than sharing with family or friends. Therefore, there is a need to change the way content is created and instead of focusing only on what the brand wants, try to incorporate what the consumer wants to improve ROI on social media.


Now that we have an understanding of what social ROI is and how it is aligned with how consumers behave on social media, we need to address the planning and design of how to achieve better social ROI. As we can see from the analysis above, there is a need for brands to focus on where expectations overlap and provide value for consumers who engage with them on social media.

Consumers will always want offers and deals however this does not necessarily provide great value and ROI for a brand or a company. Instead brands should provide value through the content created. This can be through educating, entertaining or inspiring the audience. By utilising these categories of posts, it creates content that meets user expectations as well as addressing the awareness and consideration stages of the sales funnel.

Overall, it is important to understand the role of brands and companies on social media and how they communicate with users in order to get the best ROI. Brands are guests at a user’s dinner table, they must build a relationship through a conversation (awareness and consideration content) before being trusted enough to become a friend or one of the family which in this case would be buying products and becoming brand advocates.

If you are looking to realign or redesign your social media marketing strategy and don’t know where to start, let us help. Get in touch with us and we can start a conversation. I hope this article has helped you understand social media ROI from a different angle, if you have any questions or opinions then be sure to leave a comment below!


For more information about what our award winning marketing agency can do for you, why not take a look at the digital marketing services we offer or contact us to tell us more about your business? Offering everything from PPC management to creative social media marketing services, we can help with whatever you need.

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