Social media ROI is what you get back from all the time, effort, and resources you commit to social media for making disciples of Jesus Christ. Second thing that is good to mention before we try to find an answer to this ROI-question; a lot of people reading this article are part of a ministry and not into business. That means that the return you are looking for is most of the times not money, but disciples making disciples (Matthew 28). Still it is good to think about this question because it can help to understand if it was worth the money and effort you have invested so far!
ROI from a business point of view:
One of the most important aspects in this conversation is to have clear what your goal is. See how to set God-sized goals. For example if God gives you a goal of all of India following Jesus, you could listen to God step by step. God may lead you to set a goal of 30% growth in social media followers as a first step towards discipleship.
This goal can be different and even change with different social platforms. Facebook for instance helps you with suggesting ten different objectives for your advertising. Some ministries use social media to start conversations, others to convert thinking or to change behavior. Once you have set a goal you created an important condition to evaluate upon, to say if things were worth the investment. Here’s an example of how to evaluate your first Facebook ad campaign.
You probably realize by now that when you talk about ‘return on investment’ it is not always measurable in numbers and budget but can also be something less tangible and change from short-term to long-term. Short-term one double tap on Instagram (tap tap on a picture = liking it) can be nice, but if someone gives every update a double tap it tells something about deeper engagement and possibilities of deeper impact as well.
Maybe the real question to be answered is: do you realize the full potential of your ‘likes’? If so, the value can be priceless.
Not all ROI is direct, there can be a lot of good examples of ‘indirect’ ROI: people get used to your ‘brand’ presence for instance, they move closer to your pre-set goal or it can empower the traditional ways of communication you used so far in a new way. There are even people that say that you shouldn’t be measuring the ROI on social media platforms, but see the metrics that really matters like activity, impact, reach and ‘share of voice’ (how many people are talking about you).
Return on Engagement
If you want to say it very simply: a like on social media has NO value AT ALL … if there is no interaction to bring people into deeper engagement. Some don’t want to talk about ROI anymore, but prefer ROE. A term used in a research of Adobe: ‘Return on Engagement’. A like (or any other form of engagement) is only valuable if you cherish it and start interacting with it. In that sense there is a difference between potential value and realized value.
One team realized the value of social media engagement in discipling unreached Muslims.
Hundreds of Muslims Baptized
One person took a small step of social media engagement (liking a post, watching a video, etc.). This lead to a Facebook Messenger conversation with a digital responder. The responder introduced the person to a multiplier who met up in-person to read the book of Matthew. Then discipleship took off as Jesus lead hundreds of Muslims to be baptized.