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There’s no denying that content is an incredible tool for growth, but entrepreneurs often sink a lot of time and resources into creating content for social media that launches to crickets. Even when your content performs well, it can be difficult to see a clear snapshot of how your social media strategy is helping your bottom line.
In today’s digital age, it’s important to think of social media content creation as an investment rather than a quick pathway toward monetization. Like with fiscal investments, the payouts generated by content creation aren’t always immediate. Performance is variable and virtually impossible to predict.
While most investors are looking for clear-cut ROI (money in now, for more money out later), content creation can be a much slower process and can be harder to pinpoint what you are getting in return for your efforts. Traditional benchmarks for measuring ROI don’t translate well for digital marketing strategies. Instead, what I encourage entrepreneurs to use is ROAC, which stands for Return on Attention Created.
How ROAC impacts your business
Attention is the currency of the social media age. When you create content, what you receive in exchange for your creative efforts is more than just clicks or heart emojis. The real currency is your audience’s attention. This attention is a powerful (and often overlooked) resource that pays longstanding dividends for your brand. When people are paying attention to your company’s content and engaging with your online presence, they are much more likely to purchase your products and tell their friends about your company.
So, how can you leverage the power of attention for your brand? Follow these three simple steps to unlock the power of ROAC for yourself:
1. Invest in creativity
Instead of prioritizing only quantifiable goals, it’s important to set aside creative energy to invest in doing things that don’t scale — like investing in consistent content creation. The best way to understand ROAC is to realize that the value that attention generates is multifaceted. For instance, when your audience engages with your content, it leads to new connections, enhanced market perception and other intangible benefits.
Content accumulates attention over time. The more you create, the more investments you make into generating new streams of opportunity. Your content will continue to attract new eyeballs, which over time, will compound. Your new content will create more demand for your older content, and the cycle repeats.
Social media shorts and video content can consistently generate traffic (based on social media algorithms) for up to 90 days — meaning content you post today may not hit critical mass in terms of views until next quarter. YouTube videos and blogs get traffic from search engines for years into the future, as people find your content helpful and relevant in searching for answers to the questions they search for on Google.
Popular YouTube creators such as Mr. Beast understand the exponential power of social media. After earning millions on his popular videos, he reinvests most of his earnings back into content creation to make more videos. Why? He’s unlocking the exponential power of ROAC by investing in creativity. Each new video comes with new subscribers, which increases the creative reach of his brand. He doesn’t stop after he hits tens of millions of views, he continues to reinvest his money back into his content because he knows that attention is currency, and the more he has, the more his brand earns.
2. Think like a media company
Traditionally speaking, the companies that generate the most attention are media companies with large budgets. But in the age of social media, you don’t need to become a media company to start getting the best return on attention. Instead, you can simply adopt the mindset of a media company.
Today’s brands have to become content companies to stay relevant. You need to be able to turn your core brand identity into a cohesive content strategy that lives across different platforms. In practical terms, a media company doesn’t rely on any single piece of content. They think in terms of annual content budgets. They know that in order to generate ROAC, they must create a lot of content, and that content costs time and money to produce. For example, Netflix, one of the premier content creators of the streaming age, has an annual budget just north of $17 billion.
Thinking like a media company means having a diverse portfolio. Generating a positive ROAC is similar to investing in the stock market. Buying one share of Apple stock isn’t going to allow you to retire, but many entrepreneurs treat their content creation that way. The shift to adopting a media company mindset is recognizing that one blog post isn’t enough to move the needle. Diversifying your investments allows you to provide enough depth to not only capture attention, but to keep it.
3. Social media growth is social currency
Attention online can be valuable to your company in many ways — ways that you might not have explored. For instance, it could lead to top-tier talent wanting to get hired to work at your startup. Or it could mean strategic brand partnerships wanting to align with your product offerings.
Some of my clients have been invited as guests on national television shows such as HGTV and HSN and have even partnered with leading authorities like Deepak Chopra. Everyone wants an audience. If you are proactive enough and maintain consistency with your creative investments, the right person who can change your life might be part of your online audience.
Adopting this “slow and steady wins the race” approach takes a lot of work. Some people write it off as a hobby or a nice-to-have, but after you experience the benefits of receiving a Return On Attention Created for yourself, you will never think about social media the same way again. Social media creates a lot of attention. Isn’t it time your company learned how to leverage it?