While most are probably familiar with the term return on investment (ROI), return on relationship is a newer concept coined by CMO of Brand Innovators, Ted Rubin. ROR is a concept built on the social media age and the knowledge that connections with customers drive significant growth for modern businesses.

What is return on relationship (ROR)?

Like social ROI, return on relationship is a way to measure business success. However, while net ROI represents the positive outcomes of your efforts in financial figures, ROR applies to the value that you get out of nurturing connections with customers. This value comes in the form of:

  • Recommendations and referrals
  • Social media engagement
  • Followers and fans
  • Loyalty and repeat business
  • Social sharing

A business hoping to build a company defined by loyal customers who are willing to support the organization via word of mouth marketing needs a high level of ROR. According to Rubin, return on relationship is all about organic engagement, sentiment monitoring, and community management.

How does social media affect return on relationships?

Plenty of companies today have social media pages, but they may not be getting ROR from them. Many brands log onto social media and start posting content without any significant strategy. To focus on ROR, you’ll need to consider how each of your social media efforts is creating value for your audience and your brand.

  • How does your content increase brand loyalty?
  • What do you know about your audience?
  • Are you listening to your customers and responding to their needs?
  • How high are your engagement levels?

Return on relationship puts value back into the “social” part of social media. Often, it means having conversations with your followers, responding to their requests and delivering the content they’re looking for.

How to improve ROR

Like many social media strategies, ROR requires careful planning and attention to detail. The first step is adopting a customer-centric focus that puts your people first. Instead of thinking of your social campaigns in terms of the profit they can deliver, look at the power of relationships.

To generate ROR, you’ll need to:

  • Listen to your customers/followers. A tool like Sprout Social will make it easier to foster better customer relationships on any social channel.
  • Deliver excellent customer service. Respond to your customer’s needs and deliver the support they’re looking for.
  • Ask how your people want to be served. Run polls to find out what kind of content your audience is interested in. Let people know you want to help them.
  • Remember the “social” part of social media. Don’t just publish content, respond to your followers and engage in their discussions.
  • Be consistent. Always follow up to queries promptly, and let your people know that you’re there for them.