Creating reports is essential to every social media management activity. Whether it’s the end of the year, quarter, or campaign, marketers must be able to prove the impact of their social media activities on their company’s business results.
At first glance, it may seem like a simple routine task – you pull your best numbers in one spreadsheet, export data from social media tools, and put it all into your template. The truth is, reporting is one of the most valuable and crucial parts of social media marketing – and it deserves your due attention.
To demonstrate how much value they brought to the business, marketers need to know how to interpret and visualize data so that it tells a coherent story. The ongoing reports which provide an overview of your progress on social over a certain period of time are essential to revisit your strategy.
Here are steps to consider when creating a social media report that proves your success:
Step 1: Define your goals
Before you do something, you need to understand why you’re doing it.
What do you want from your social media reports? What will prove your successes and your value? To demonstrate that you’re meeting the business goals?
A comprehensive social media report dedicated to your ongoing activity will reflect whether you’ve hit your goals, how your strategies are working, and what your successes are. It’ll also explain any failures, and show you the ways to address them efficiently.
Step 2: Define your recipient
Who will receive the report? How can they benefit from the report? Think about the decisions your reports are supposed to inform and support.
Knowing who’s going to receive your report is key to selecting the most relevant metrics you should present. If you work in an agency, your clients will most likely want to hear about the overall business revenue they generated from social media.
If, however, you’re an in-house social media manager, you can dive deeper and, depending on your objectives, showcase to your boss more granular data on engagement, Click-through Rate (CTR) or Cost-per-click (CPC).
- Does the head of sales need to understand how many leads come from social?
- Does the community management team want to know the efficiency of their strategy?
- Do you want to convince the head of marketing to invest in video content production?
These are just some questions that may come up in your social media marketing endeavors. As you might have noticed, defining goals and recipients go hand-in-hand – who needs insights, and why they need them, are the main questions to build your report around.
Step 3: Define the time frame
The period of time covered by your report may depend on the purpose of the report. The timeframe you select for your report should be broad enough to accurately reflect the impact of your social media strategy.
The following are the most common:
- Weekly report
- Monthly report
- Quarterly report (90 days)
- Annual report
- Campaign based report
At this step, you should also consider how you want to evaluate your progress. Do you want to compare your performance to the previous month (if you’re doing monthly reports)? Or maybe you’d like to see how your key figures compare to those from the same month of the last year?
Step 4: Decide what metrics to include
Now that you know why you’re making a report, you can think of what data you need to present. Knowing the purpose can help you focus onto a specific set of metrics which showcases your successes and weakness in a chosen area.
If you’re focusing on brand marketing, and aiming to raise awareness and affinity, you should report on the following metrics:
Reach or exposure – how successful you were in delivering your message to your target audience. It helps you understand the size of your audience.
Engagement – how well your content resonated with your community. You can also discuss engagement in relation to reach to get more accurate picture of your posts’ effectiveness. Engagement enables you to analyze the quantity and quality of the interactions your accounts and posts get. Engagement is one of the most important metrics for growth – most major social media platforms have made engagement the main focus of their algorithms. In other words, the more engagement you get, the more exposure your brand receives.
Social media mentions and sentiment – what people were saying about your brand or products on social media and whether the opinions were positive or negative. It’s also important to look at the number of mentions.
Audience – social media platforms give you a lot of information about your audience – you can learn who participates in a conversation, where your users come from, when they are active, what languages they speak, what gender they are, total followers, new followers etc.
Brand lift – how your ads impacted ad recall, message association, and brand awareness.
If your goal is performance marketing and you aim to deliver tangible business results, these are the metrics you need to highlight:
Click-through rate and traffic – Ultimately, you want to drive customers to your website One of the most convincing proofs of your success here is clicks on your shared links, and social media traffic. It says how many of the users reached by your ads clicked on the ads and arrived at a designated landing page.
Cost-per-click – how much you paid for each of the clicks on your ads
Cost-per-action (CPA) – how much you paid for the completion of your advertising objectives – not only clicks, but also app downloads, ebook downloads, form submits, newsletter sign-ups, etc.
Social media ROI – how much revenue you generated from the budget invested in your social media.
The above metrics will help you to create a comprehensive social media report on the condition that they’re not measured in isolation. Keep in mind that your goal when reporting is connecting the dots between awareness, lead generation, and conversions in a story-like manner.
Step 5: Benchmark your success to set realistic KPIs
Once you discuss all the numbers in your report, it’s time to set expectations and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the following period. Your forecast, however, shouldn’t be based exclusively on your own performance, as it shows you merely one side of the coin. To be able to map out realistic and accurate targets for the future, you need to benchmark your results against the competition, industry and see how you stack up.
Step 6: Design the report
This is another challenging step – organizing the collected data in the most logical and comprehensible way is not easy.
Here are some tips to make the report better:
- Don’t try to fit too many information as possible into one sheet. Unless it’s an extremely simple report, designate at least one page per each section.
- Visualize what’s important, emphasize it by highlighting with a bright color.
- Add actionable insights so that you can arrive at strategic questions and directions.
- Where possible, use graphs, charts, maps and word clouds to put life into your reports. Also add context to your numbers.
- Include short descriptions, examples of the social posts you’re measuring. Finish with takeaways, analysis highlights, next steps and action plans.
Analyzing data on both your own and competitive performance will allow you to answer a number of strategic questions. What can you accomplish in the time to come? Which areas of your social media strategy should be refined, and how? What type and amount of resources are you going to need to execute your future strategy?
Making a social media report may seem like a hug and complex task, but by breaking it down into simple steps, you’ll be able to generate any social media report you can think of in an effective and impactful way.