Social Media – Return on Engagement

The purpose of this blog is to discuss ways to measure Return on Investment (ROI) for Social Media implementation.


Determining and measuring ROI for Social Media is not an easy undertaking. As Figure 1.0 below explains the Cause and Effect Chain for Social Media variables is often long. Another way of saying this is that the measurable variables for Social Media are usually confounded, and it is not until all of these variables are realised that ROI can be realised.

Not all ROI, therefore, can be measured directly in terms of monetary value. In some cases Return on Engagement (ROE) is used rather than ROI.  Usually this is the more valid measure for schools. There are two reasons for this. The first is that schools have a relatively high percentage of fixed costs as part of their overall operating costs. The variable costs are relatively small, so justification is usually based on the need rather than money. The second reason ROE is more relevant, is that the question usually asked by Teachers and Administrators when implementing a new IT product is “How much time is needed to implement this product, and how will this benefit the teaching and learning process?” This blog, therefore, focuses on the ROE measure rather than ROI.


The following Case Study comes from St Hilda’s College – Gold Coast . Geoff Powell (Director of Learning) was kind enough to share this information with me.

Recently St. Hilda’s College implemented a Blackboard, iPAD implementation. A screen shot of this application is below. As the screen shot below suggests, Social Media implementation, was only part of the overall implementation strategy for increasing engagement with students. Some lessons can be learnt here if you are an 2.0 consultant. As will be highlighted later, Social Media implementation can more successful if part of a wider strategy or implementation. In this case, a Learning Management System, and Mobile Learning Tools (iPADs).

Figure 2.0 – Screen Shot of the Blackboard application at St Hilda’s College – Gold Coast

2.1 Measures

St Hilda’s College, uses a Gateway device called Netbox Blue. I have implemented this device within my own college. Netbox allows your school network administrator to develop reports on traffic to all pages within your intranet. The following screen shots come from the netbox device.

It should be noted that these figures do not show that the increase in student engagement  is a result of social media implementation alone. Social Media tools are embedded within the LMS, and therefore Social Media is only a contributor to the increase in engagement that are shown in these figures. Seven sets of data are provided. Each of these graphs show how students have increased their engagement with the subject matter, and a result of this implementation.

Figure 3 – shows the increases in visits to St Hilda’s intranet, through making the internet connection faster alone.

Figure 4 – Page visits to the LMS per day.

Figure 5 – shows the number of page views during the busiest days. Pre and Post implementation traffic is tabled.

Figure 6 – Number of page view increases during school holidays pre and post implementation.

Figure 7 – Number of views in Year 10 English 2010

Figure 8 – Number of views in Year 10 English 2011. A tenfold increase in volume of traffic.

Figure 9 – Year 10 English, 2010 – 2011 direct comparisons


This blog has provided insight on how data can be collected to measure increases in student engagement. Although the dependent variable in this Case Study is not Social Media alone, Social Media forms part of a larger strategy that leads to increases in Student Engagement. Netbox or similar devices could be used to measure traffic volume and time spent on pages that contain social media. Ultimately this is a good measure of engagement.

If you would like to make a comment on this article please feel free to do so.


About whellmuth

Working with the education software industry to build software with standard arhitectures that allows schools to have extensible and well integrated technologies. Member of Software QLD. Member of Microsoft advisory board on cloud computing. My doctorate specialises in Software Architecture in the Education environment. My Master Research specialised in IT change management.
This entry was posted in Blogs, Communication, Enterprise 2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Social Media – Return on Engagement

  1. Morohen says:

    As you said Mr. Hellmuth, ROE is not less important that ROI and I believe projects should focus on ROE. This is because ROE has a better impact on the company than ROI, especially in the filed of E2.0


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