Making the Case: Explaining the Return on Investment (ROI) of Your Social Media Efforts: Part 2

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in!” –Michael Corleone, “The Godfather: Part III” (1990)


I know how Michael Corleone feels…sort of.

Like the Godfather star, I, too, understand what it’s like to try (and fail) to distance myself from something. But, unlike the Corleone family scion, what “pulls me back in” is social media ROI. Once I find a way to quantitatively measure my Twitter activity, I stumble upon yet another form of analysis. This poses a problem because the more measurement layers I add, the more time it takes me to “run my numbers.” At this point, my analysis takes anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour each day; time I could be using to tweet, post, or engage in other social media activity. But, in my experience, embracing multiple ways of gauging social media ROI is essential when it comes to sharing why your work matters. The more data you have in your arsenal, the better, and in this post I’ll share a new form of analysis I stumbled upon recently.

(Read Making the Case: Explaining the Return on Investment (ROI) of Your Social Media Efforts: Part 1)

Making Connections

While I work in higher ed and do not, technically, sell anything, I’ve always taking a customer service approach to my social media work. A key part of this customer-centric philosophy is connecting alumni with each other based on professional and/or personal interests. An example of this philosophy in action is below.


When I first started working at the Harvard Business School (HBS), I looked at interactions like these on a granular level. I would count each tweet as a “touch” (see “What Do You Want to Measure”) and add them to my tracking sheet for future tabulation (see “Collecting and Interpreting the Data”). While it was (and still is) important to measure individual engagement, I was missing something important; namely, the connections that were taking place. These connections are not only an essential part of what I do, especially on Twitter, but are a valuable tool when it comes to sharing the importance of social media. So, a few months ago, I started tracking these connection using the format below.


Before I started tracking this information, though, my supervisor and I had to determine what constituted a “connection.” We discussed this topic at length and decided that a “connection” needs to fit the following criteria.

1) It must be a tweet in response to an action we took. The example below illustrates this “rule” most clearly.

Earlier this month, we tweeted an article link to several HBS alumni, including Andrew Rosenthal (aka, @rosenthal)


Andrew not only read the article, but shared it broadly with fellow alumni. This, under our tracking matrix, constituted a connection.


2) The tweet from the alumnus/a must include the handles of fellow alumni. It cannot be a tweet directed solely at @HBSAlumni.

3) It cannot be a retweet

With these “rules” in mind, we now have another valuable data point in our presentations. Defining what constitutes a connection has also helped me be more deliberate in seeking out these opportunities on a more regular basis.

Was this post helpful? Is there anything I missed? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Robert Bochnak manages social media for the Harvard Business School’s alumni office. He’s also the former writer and editor of GradMatters: The Blog for Tufts GSAS. 

Follow Robert on Twitter at



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