What’s the ROI of Your Mother?
Gary Vaynerchuk

Playing devil’s advocate here….

I think this is one of those analogies that breaks down if you look it at too closely. The “R” part of your mother is enormous, yes, but then so is the “I”. Unless you think you’re much better than your mother, the ROI of your mother is around one — one human divided by one human. And then we could ask about the ROI of your grandmother, and so on.

More importantly, you can choose not to advertise in social media. You can’t choose not to have a mother. So your mother is really a sunk cost — you can’t recoup the investment, so in some sense it’s pointless to talk about its ROI. If you haven’t made the decision yet, such as maybe you are talking with your wife on whether you want children, then ROI makes sense again. The child you raise might end up curing cancer (positive ROI) or committing genocide (negative ROI). There are so many uncertainties, I’d almost be willing to say that the expected value to society is lower than, say, the value of social media ads is to your company. Many people in the world do that calculation, although not necessarily in this form, and make a decision to not have children. For them, the ROI of “motherhood” isn’t worth it.

Also noticeably, there is a significant amount of survivor bias here! Every living human being in this world has had a mother! Saying that the ROI is huge is like looking at a successful ad campaign and saying it was “worth it”. But that ignores all the unsuccessful ad campaigns. If you look at all the unborn potential children, unfertilized eggs, suddenly the ROI of your mother doesn’t look so great.

So yeah, investing in social media could give you the joy that is similar to a mother who raised their child to be a successful achieving adult. But it could also give you the pain that is similar to a mother who lost their baby in childbirth, or the mother whose 5-year-old was killed in a drunk driving accident.

Social media advertising, like motherhood, can be a great investment. But also like motherhood, just because other people make it look easy doesn’t mean it is.

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