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There’s no denying that content is an incredible tool for growth, but entrepreneurs often put a lot of time and resources into creating social media content that launches on crickets. Even if your content is performing 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 view social media content creation as an investment rather than a fast track to monetization. As with tax investments, the payouts generated by content creation are not always instantaneous. Performance is variable and virtually impossible to predict.

While most investors are looking for a clear ROI (money in now, more money later), creating content can be a much slower process and it can be more difficult to establish what you are getting in return for your efforts. Traditional benchmarks for measuring ROI don’t translate well for digital marketing strategies. Instead, I encourage entrepreneurs to use: ROACwhich stands for Return on Attention Created.

Related: The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Publishing Quality Content

How ROAC affects your business

Attention is the currency of the social media age. When you create content, you receive more than just clicks or heart emojis in return for your creative efforts. The real currency is your audience’s attention. This attention is a powerful (and often overlooked) resource that has long paid off for your brand. When people pay attention to your business content and engage with your online presence, they are more likely to buy your products and tell their friends about your business.

So, how can you harness the power of attention to your brand? Follow these three simple steps to unlock the power of ROAC for yourself:

1. Invest in creativity

Rather than prioritizing only quantifiable goals, it’s important to set aside creative energy to invest in things that aren’t scalable, such as investing in consistent content creation. The best way to understand ROAC is to realize that the value that attention generates is multifaceted. For example, when your audience engages with your content, it leads to new connections, better market perception, and other intangible benefits.

Content collects attention over time. The more you create, the more investment you make in generating new opportunities streams. Your content will continue to attract new eyeballs, which will increase over time. Your new content will create more demand for your older content and the cycle repeats.

Shorts and video content on social media can generate consistent traffic for up to 90 days (based on social media algorithms), meaning content you post today may not reach critical mass in terms of views until next quarter. YouTube videos and blogs will continue to get traffic from search engines for years to come as people find your content useful and relevant when looking for answers to the questions they search for on Google.

Popular YouTube creators like Mr. Beast understand the exponential power of social media. After making millions from his popular videos, he reinvests most of his earnings back into content creation to make more videos. Why? He unlocks the exponential power of ROAC by investing in creativity. Every new video comes with new subscribers, expanding the creative reach of his brand. He doesn’t stop after gaining tens of millions of views, he continues to reinvest his money into his content because he knows that attention is money, and the more he has, the more his brand earns.

Related: 3 Ways to Master Social Media Content Marketing

2. Think like a media company

Traditionally, the companies that attract the most attention are media companies with large budgets. But in the age of social media, you don’t have to become a media company to get the best return on attention. Instead, you can just adopt the mindset of a media company.

Today’s brands need to become content companies to stay relevant. You need to be able to translate your core brand identity into a cohesive content strategy that lives across platforms. Practically speaking, a media company does not rely on one piece of content. They think in annual content budgets. They know that they have to create a lot of content to generate ROAC, and that producing content takes time and money. For example, Netflix, one of the major content creators of the streaming era, 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 won’t let you retire, but many entrepreneurs treat their content creation that way. The shift to adopting a media company mindset is the recognition that one blog post isn’t enough to move the needle. By diversifying your investments, you can provide enough depth to not only grab attention, but also keep it.

3. Social media growth is social currency

Attention online can be valuable to your business in many ways – ways you may not have explored. For example, it can lead to top talent wanting to be hired to work at your startup. Or it could mean strategic brand partnerships that want to align with your product offerings.

Some of my clients have been invited as guests on national television programs such as HGTV and HSN and have even collaborated with leading authorities such as Deepak Chopra. Everyone wants an audience. If you are proactive enough and consistent with your creative investments, the right person who can change your life can be part of your online audience.

Related: Here’s How to Create High-Quality Content in the Age of Social Media

Adopting this “slow and steady wins the race” approach takes a lot of work. Some people write it off as a hobby or fun to have, but after you experience the benefits of receiving a Return On Attention Made For Yourself, you’ll never think about social media the same way again. Social media generates a lot of attention. Isn’t it time your business learned how to leverage it?

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