Proving the value of social media through reporting

In the so-called data-driven world, everybody is under pressure to demonstrate the value of their work to the decision-makers and thus reporting has become a critical activity for agencies and in-house teams. Of course, social media reports are no exception. In this post I would like to share with you our approach to conducting monthly reports, usually addressed to marketers who are responsible for the execution and supervision of social media campaigns, and crafted from a holistic perspective of the social media landscape. At this point, it is important to note that there is no(shouldn’t be) difference between reporting and analysis since reporting without analysis has no value.

At its most basic level, the goal of this kind of reporting is to make a description of what happened in a given period of time and propose a course of action to improve the outcomes achieved. For the reporting to be meaningful we need a shared vision of what are the goals, the expected outcomes, and the KPIs needed to measure social media activity against those goals. In order words, we need a context in order to extract meaningful conclusions from a data set previously gathered with that context in mind. This is a critical step that helps to discover, interpret and communicate the outcomes of a given activity.

Social media reporting needs to consider the effects of our presence and actions in the owned, earned, and paid territories. Although even branded social media profiles should be categorized primarily as an earned territory since interactions are defined by the platform and not by the brand and rules for conversation are set by users, the analysis of the owned territory includes the analysis of the brand activity in social media platforms.

Metrics included in this epigraph of the report should inform us about if we have reached the target audience, to what extent, and if we have influenced its behavior segmented by platform, demographics, etc. In order to provide context, keeping an eye on trends is mandatory and thus, MoM and YoY comparisons should be part of routine activities.

  • Reach
  • Volume of impressions
  • Fanbase rate of growth
  • Demographics of the fanbase (age, gender, geography)
  • Engagement rate segmented by type of interactions and content
Dashboard for social media

As algorithmic timelines have taken over the social web, paid strategies have become more important to support the organic efforts of community management activities. Thus, the reporting routines would be incomplete without the analysis of the performance metrics of every social ads campaign and the results they achieved.

To offer a complete view of the owned and paid territory, social media activity must be connected to the platform where the conversions take place, usually a website. Therefore, make sure that proper tracking methods are in place to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, so you can compare the performance of your social media presence against other channels provided that they are intended to work at the same stage of the sales cycle.

As to earned media, reporting must focus on the conversation generated by our actions. Did we gain more exposure as a consequence of our campaigns? In order to answer that question, it is important to

  • quantify the volume of conversations about the brand through social listening
  • the share of voice, focusing not only on raw numbers but trends
  • the sentiment of the conversations
  • main themes and topics that capitalize on the buzz around the brand
  • and the detection of influencers taking part in the conversation

Depending on the scope of campaigns and the situation of the brand in a given market, earned media might also have an impact on metrics such as the volume of direct and referral traffic. No report in earned media is complete without a benchmark of the competitors so make sure to pull data about their activities on social and compare them to your performance.

Social media reporting and analysis conducted this way offer a holistic and comprehensible view of the effectiveness of social media campaigns whether you are an agency or an in-house team.

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