How to create a social media report
You and your team spent days preparing your latest social media campaign. Preparation was intense, working late, pizza on speed dial. Now what? Show your boss what you’ve achieved. A social media report will prove your goals, results, and wins. I’m going to show you how...
Download our free, simulated Talkwalker reporting templates, to see how great your reports can look!
Social media channels are an essential part of digital marketing strategies. Measuring your social media performance and proving the results of those campaigns in a social media report can be painful. It can be confusing to figure out which numbers matter, and which don’t. What you should be presenting to your team, your clients, and your boss.
This guide will explain why doing social media reports is crucial. For your team, boss, business, and for your future social media campaigns. Follow my seven steps to creating your social media reports. What you should include, metrics to track, choosing a reporting tool, and how to present. I’ve suggested which reports to present, but it depends on your business goals and what you want to demonstrate.
Here's an example social media report template - you can download all three simulated Talkwalker social media reporting templates now!.
Talkwalker Analytics - market impact demonstrating share of voice, volume by competitor, net sentiment (simulated social media report template).
Social media reporting
“What’s the ROI of your recent social media campaign?”
“Incredible… we got 1500 more Twitter followers, 45 retweets. On Facebook, it was shared 27 times… “
Nice, but not insightful. How did it help your bottom line?
It can be hard to translate social media metrics into something understood across the board. Not everyone has your insights into the many marketing channels you use. You need to be able to explain all that your team is doing and the results it’s achieving, to justify your budget. A visual, comprehensive social media report - social media audit - will explain all.
The secret of successful social media reporting lies in comparison. Compare how your channels performed before vs how they perform now. And, how your social marketing campaigns are positioned against your competitors.
Table of contents
- The best social media tips
- What's a social media report
- Why do I need a social media report?
- 7 steps to creating social media reports
- Social media reports
- Choosing a social media reporting tool
- Free social media report template
Don’t ever, ever assume that senior management understands social media, or what your job involves. It’s up to you to educate them. To prove your team’s value. To prove your value.
Is social media a chore? Tasked to the intern? Your boss about to pull the plug unless you prove an ROI? If you ignore social media, you're ignoring a key part of your marketing strategy. Check out my 23 social media tips, with all the details on how to create a winning social media strategy. Includes...
- Employ a savvy social media manager
- Deliver consistently
- Don't buy followers
- Humanize your brand
- And 19 more
First up... the definition of a social media report - smart, simple, easy-to-understand - using data - stats and metrics - to prove the value of your social media strategy. Done well, the best social media report will steer you in the right direction for future social media campaigns. You'll also learn what isn't resonating with your followers, and be able to pause or stop campaigns.
You’ll need to explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Your targets and the results you’ve achieved. You’ll have to justify your budget.
- Measure the ROI of social media campaigns so you can prove their value and targets met
- Show your clients how their social accounts are evolving
- Identify successes and failures, so you can tweak to improve, repeat, or delete
- Save time with automated social media reports - using videos, images, and comments to make them easier to understand and remember
Tracking your social media strategies and owned accounts will help you find what’s working and what isn’t. You can share your strategy across your organization and help prove that your team’s efforts are effective. Targets are being achieved.
Comparing your social media channels will identify which channels are favored by your audience. Which are bringing the most success, with minimal effort. Identifying what content is working and bringing high engagement means you can replicate your successes, and improve any failures.
Check out your competitors, and you'll be able to compare market impact and see whether you're missing out on opportunities to expand your online community. Seeing the bigger picture allows you to prove that your business decisions are effective. Decisions like, prioritizing resources based on the channel bringing the highest ROI.
Talkwalker Analytics - market impact demonstrating strategy across networks, compared with competing brands (simulated social media report template).
Download our free, simulated social media report templates to do competitor analysis.
Creating an automated report is all in the preparation - who, what, why, how...
1 Identify stakeholders
- Stakeholders receiving your reports - senior management, sales & marketing team leaders, customer support, demand gen
- Recipients of social media metrics in your organization
Different teams have different requirements - community management, sales, PR, etc. Senior management won’t always have the time or inclination to read a heap of pages. Keep it short and simple.
2 Set your goals
What are you hoping to achieve from your social media reports? What are you trying to prove, to justify? Social media reporting can be broken down into three categories...
- Regular reports - using key metrics to demonstrate progress on social media - your brand alone, or include competitors and industry
- One-off report - following a campaign, event, product launch - metrics and qualitative analysis to gauge success
- Research reports - using social listening to find insights around a particular topic or trend
3 SMART questions
SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timed.
Regardless of which report you’re writing, first thing you should do is identify the questions you want to answer. As with your goals, ensure your questions are SMART...
- Specific - real numbers with real deadlines
- Measurable - how you'll track and analyze results
- Achievable - ask questions that are challenging, but possible
- Relevant - check you have the necessary resources
- Timely - set a timeline, and stick to it
A report following a specific marketing campaign might ask - how much engagement was driven in your target group?
A research report might ask - what do men want in their 40s from a clothing brand?
This is where tools will help. Check out my Market Research Tools & Guide for more details.
4 Which metrics to track
Just because you can report on something, doesn’t mean you should.
The more you include, the greater your reporting task will be. What you choose to measure will depend on your needs and which social networks you use - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Try to avoid custom metrics that’ll need you to calculate every time, unless vital.
Measure metrics that you’ll learn from, and that will inform your decision making...
- Leads - visitors that have the potential to become customers. Leads coming from social can be directly tied to revenue. Target consumers with gated content, contests, events, demo sign-ups, newsletter subscriptions, etc., to increase registrations. Regular content that resonates with consumers will drive sign-ups.
Trackable links (UTM code) - to track the leads you’re generating, and those that convert
- Conversions - when a lead becomes a paying customer, acting on a call to action - opening an email, registering for a download, subscribing to a newsletter, scans a QR code, etc.
Jay Baer, “we’re after action, not eyeballs.” Paying customers - that’s what it’s all about.
- Reach & impressions - the number of people that see your posts. It’s a metric that demonstrates the value of your content beyond the total number of likes.
Reach = total number of people who see your content
Impressions = number of times your content is displayed, clicked or not
- Volume - track conversion size and number of brand mentions
- Engagement - this is about the relevancy of your content. Analyze the quantity and type of engagement your social media channels and content receives. Include clicks, comments, and shares. Recognize which channels are performing well for your brand. Highlight posts doing better than normal. Identify pain points, so you can action for improvement.
- Audience - identify who participates in conversations, the most active users, influencers. Demographics - show your clients that you’re attracting the right followers. Present a breakdown of audience - location, gender, language, interests, occupation, age.
- Content - track your top performing posts, and those that have tanked. Include the number of posts published monthly, to prove the activity of your team.
- Click-thru with bounce rate - track bounce rate of website visitors coming from social, and compare to website visitors who visited your site directly, arrived from a search engine, or came via any paid ad campaign. If your social media bounce rate is lower than those other sources, you can show your boss that you’re targeting the right people on social, and the traffic you’re bringing is more valuable to the business.
Bounce rate = % of page visitors who leave your site after only viewing one page. In social media it would be someone clicking on a link in TW/FB, landing on your site/blog post, leaving without looking at any other content.
Tool = Google Analytics - acquisition tab - all traffic - channels - bounce rate.
Google Analytics - turning insights into action.
- Share of voice (SOV) - competitor analysis. Mentions show how much consumers are talking about you on social. Find out how your SOV compares with that of your competitors.
- Lessons learned - share social media insights you’ve learned with other teams in your organization. For instance: product feedback, technical issues, praise.
- Executive summary - include a summary of your top achievements during the month. Keep it short - up to 5 bullet points.
You’re going to be tracking a heap of social media data. When it comes to reporting results, you need to be shrewd about what you share. Not because you’re hiding things. But because not everything you’re monitoring is going to be relevant to your boss.
Be consistent - report the same metrics in the same way, each time. Include percentage changes and benchmarks to make it easier for your audience to understand the results.
5 Choosing the best social media reporting tools
Clarify your priorities and goals before you start looking for the best tool. Ask questions...
- Where does the tool source its social data?
- What’s the quality of data?
- What relationship does it have with the social networks?
- Can it track owned, earned, and paid social?
- Does it include insights from the networks that you’re looking to to report on?
- What type of customer support or account management does it provide?
- What features are on its roadmap?
- Does it offer multiple languages?
Social media channels are evolving. You need a tool that will keep up with these changes.
There are good free tools out there, but they won’t provide you with all the statistics you need. A single tool would be best, rather than multiple, or a different one for each channel. You’ll save time, money, and stress.
6 Choose optimal reporting timeframes
Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, campaign related. It makes sense to report some metrics more often than others. What’s your boss asking for?
If you’re creating a campaign related report, you need to set benchmarks before you start. You’ll then be able to track improvements.
You can do a monthly report on published content. Include the number of sessions, page views, new users, goal completions, bounce rate, leads, downloads. If you’re targeting keywords, you could include page rankings for before and after the content was published. With this information, you’ll see spikes and patterns, to better understand what’s working with your audience. For example, seasonal patterns during holidays, Christmas, Black Friday, etc.
7 Presenting your social media marketing report
Use graphs, charts, virality maps, Conversation Clusters, word clouds, social posts - whatever it takes to give your reports clarity. To make them visually appealing and easier on the eye. Human brains understand data visualizations and are more likely to retain the information they’re illustrating. Include a short description of what they’re seeing, along with takeaways and analysis highlights.
Talkwalker Analytics - use a mix of visuals to support and explain your results in your social media report.
Conversation Clusters illustrating conversations around sustainability, encompassing topics that include impact of electric vehicles, concerns around cryptocurrencies, and the importance of plastic waste management.
Remember context - your boss might panic if shown a handful of negative tweets, not realizing that they’re only 2% of an ongoing conversation.
Don’t terrify the boss!
You should be ready to:
- Understand what happened so you can plan the future - pull out last year’s data to target this year’s critical KPIs
- Get to the point - anything that doesn’t impact your goals, don’t waste your time, don’t waste your boss’ time
- Understand the data you’re presenting - don’t list numbers, tell a story
- Be brutally honest - learn from your successes and failures. Never lie about or fluff over what the results represent. Ensure your team is ready to address negative results immediately
- Make it actionable - allow the data to steer your decisions and plan how you’re going to respond, according to the results
The goal of your social media report is to optimize your social media activities and benefit your bottom line.
Let's take a look at the various reports and time periods that you could cover...
Choose those that will give you and your boss all the data you need.
- Daily reporting
- Punctual campaign report
- Monthly report- 28 days so consistent across all months, or 31 days
- Quarterly strategy review - 90 day period - 4 fit in one year
Reporting on your brand
- Brand protection
- Brand performance
- Brand promotion
Used by the social media team to track daily changes - ups and downs, find spikes and react fast. What caused this? What action needs to be taken? Managing your channels means monitoring - in real time - what’s posted by your brand, product and brand mentions, and competitor mentions. Any issues, should be addressed immediately.
An issue can become a crisis in the blink of an eye! Check out my 11 Steps to PR crisis management. It could save your brand.
Questions to ask:
- What’re my followers doing - sudden increase/decrease?
Wow, hundreds of new followers. Genuine/fake/low quality? Have I tagged anyone (Bieber) or used a hashtag that’s attracting bots?
- How are engagement levels looking for my content - big increase/decrease?
- Are there new influencers I can reach out to?
- What’s the performance of the hashtags I’m using - increase in activity of those I’m following?
- What’s my brand sentiment - positive/negative increase?
- How are my competitors performing - increase in followers, sentiment, etc.?
Performance benchmarking will show you how your business compares to your competitors, and in your industry. Comparing processes, time to market, operations, customer churn, etc. You'll compare your brand with best-in-class standards, so you can make improvements. For details on how to do performance benchmarking, check out my guide.
Using Quick Search - Talkwalker’s social search engine - I’ve looked at three months of sentiment directed at Diet Coke.
Quick Search - negative sentiment dominates and the brand should dig deeper to find the cause.
Going deeper into Quick Search, I can find the cause of the biggest slump, plus the surrounding negativity.
Trump sat on his hands during the shutdown and did absolutely nothing except watch tv, slurp down Diet Coke’s, cry about missing his stupid fundraiser & moan about me, Dems & #TheResistance. The time has come for Trump to resign. Everyone who retweets this agrees. #TrumpResign— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 22, 2018
Scott Dworkin has 321K followers.
Unfortunately, the brand - while not being personally attacked - got caught up in posts poking fun at the US President. This is information that should be reported, to explain the spike in negative sentiment, and to find a way of turning it into a positive.
If you're interested in the rest of these potentially brand damaging tweets, or you'd like to track the sentiment of your brand, you'll need a sentiment analysis tool.
Punctual campaign report
Marketing campaigns - when successful - have a significant impact on company growth. Are you measuring this impact? It’s time you proved the value of your team and your campaigns.
A punctual campaign - time-bound initiative - has a single/targeted message and is intended to drive a particular conversion/reach business goals. You’ll want to report on the ROI of each punctual campaign. Track audience engagement, identify and analyze the opportunities that resulted from your campaign. Depending on the structure of your campaign, the following are metrics you should measure.
Metrics to share with your team and boss, or client...
- What impact did the campaign have?
- Were preset goals met?
- How much traffic did the campaign drive?
- How many leads did the campaign bring?
- What was the engagement rate of customers?
- How much revenue did the campaign influence?
- How does this campaign compare to previous?
You’ll need to track paid ads - performance and frequency, keeping the budget on track. Optimizing goals and allocating money depending on what’s working and what isn’t. You might want to take a look at this social media advertising guide, explaining social media ad best practices, and the tools you'll need to measure results. Each social media platform has inbuilt tools to measure performance - Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, Instagram Analytics, etc., but if you're looking for easier reporting, a single consumer intelligence platform will prove more efficient.
- Facebook ads - frequency, reach, clicks, impressions
- Twitter ads - click-thru rate, reach, unique clicks, cost per retweet, cost per follower, budget
- LinkedIn ads - clicks, likes, impressions, engagement, followers
Metrics to improve future campaigns...
- Which landing pages had the highest conversion rates?
- Which blog posts took off?
- Which emails were opened most?
- Which social messages drove the most engagement?
Used by management for performance comparison over periods of time. Watch for spikes and slumps. Is that spike a trend or a one-off incident? Ensure you determine this before tweaking your social media plan on an exception, rather than the norm.
Example: You included @justinbieber in a tweet and it all went a bit crazy on Twitter.
You should include the following...
- This month vs last month
- This month vs the same month, last year
- KPI movement - include acquisition, conversions, engagement, retention KPIs
This is going to the boss, so be ready with the answers to all the questions you’ll be asked. More data, more questions...
- Focus on crucial metrics - 3-5 max
- Avoid including data you can’t explain. What caused that spike? No clue!
- Use data visualizations to clearly show trends and progress
- Tie the results back to business goals
Example: goal = customer retention. Show increase in sessions coming via social media for returning customers
Quarterly strategy review
Your quarterly strategy review will help you maximize the performance of your marketing team. The goal is to assess how fit for purpose your strategy is, while learning from the previous quarter. This in turn, will influence planning for the next quarter.
Your quarterly review should cover...
- Current strategy, focus and goals - what your social media campaigns will achieve, in line with business goals
- Progress against goals - where is your team with regard to targets - ahead/behind targets?
- Hits and misses - what worked, what didn’t, why? Your review should cover reasons for successes and failures
- Issues and resolution - what stopped goals being met? What improvements will be made? Who will be tasked with this? How will you monitor and report the results?
- Insights - what did you and your team learn that will help improve your social media marketing?
- What data will you share across your organization that will improve performance?
Example: customer feedback and insights with customer service team, sales
- Next steps and actions - plan of action with roles defined, responsibilities, target deadlines
Brand protection reporting
When a brand gets embroiled in a potential crisis, a fast assessment and reaction is crucial. Reporting on your online performance is only valuable if you’re honest, and face up to the truth. Consider establishing a PR crisis management plan. It will significantly reduce the chances of your brand reputation being damaged.
Talkwalker Analytics - issue tracking (simulated social media report template).
Share of voice report
Who are people talking about most, you or your competitors? What’s your brand’s share of voice - SOV - in your industry? Having a spike in SOV isn’t always a good thing, if the increase was caused by a crisis situation.
Below, Quick Search compares Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Red Bull, and Gatorade over a 13 month period.
Quick Search - brand comparison.
Coca-Cola is the undisputed king of fizzy drinks, but the roar of Pepsi drowned out Coke in April with 2.4M mentions. What happened to cause this increase in SOV? In your social media report you need to include the stats, the graphic, and the cause.
Check out How to conduct a competitor analysis, if you want to find out the cause of what turned out to be a reputation-bruising crisis.
Brand performance reporting
Social network comparison
Which channels work best for your brand and are popular with the consumers you’re targeting?
Compare results from all your social channels. Each channel is different, and might not be a fit for your brand. Try out some alternative strategies. If it doesn’t improve, concentrate on the channels that work for you.
Brand health report
Talkwalker Analytics - brand health (simulated social media report template).
How effective is your brand in achieving your business goals? Tracking reputation, awareness, engagement, and positioning will give you an overview of your strengths and weaknesses.
Report the stats, and ask questions. An increase in share of voice sounds great, but is it due to a potential crisis? Gathering all your results and analysis into a single report will give you the complete picture of your brand health.
Performing a brand audit regularly, is an essential part of maintaining and improving your brand health. Check out my Brand Audit Guide, for all the deets on how to do it.
Brand promotion reporting
Reputation measurement is considered tricky to measure. It’s about what consumers think of your company, brand, values, trustworthiness. Measuring sentiment - opinion mining - tracks and analyzes mentions of your brand. Assigning a positive, negative, and neutral score. In simple terms:
% of positive score - % of negative sentiment = reputation score
Quick Search - track and report changes in sentiment after you’ve implemented a social media campaign.
McDonald’s has 62% negative sentiment compared with 40.5% for Burger King. Check out the Practical guide to sentiment analysis, if you'd like to find out the cause of the negative sentiment score.
Influencer metrics report
An influencer with a healthy following, that could be beneficial to business.
In your report, to illustrate how this influencer’s article spread - his influence - include a virality map.
How many people are your influencers reaching? How much engagement do they drive? The audience you’re targeting, are they interacting with your influencers?
Talkwalker Analytics - influencer reach and engagement (simulated social media report template).
To find out more about using influencers, check out my What is influencer marketing guide.
Now you understand why accurate reporting is so important.
Feeling overwhelmed at the work involved? How are you going to create an awesome social media report? How will you find time in your crazy work schedule?
There’s a heap of cool social media analytics tools on the market, all you need is the questions to ask.
Don’t be bamboozled by a suave sales rep talking AT you. Check out my cheat sheet, and TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT.
- Can I choose the format of my social media report?
Your boss likes to present a PPT presentation to the board. Your team’s happy with a Word doc. Look for a tool that gives you multi-format reporting choices – PowerPoint, HTML, Word, PDF.
- Can I use pictures in my reports – my boss isn’t big on words?!
Social media is all about visuals. A good social media reporting tool has to reflect this. Not just to make it pretty, but us humans understand and retain the data from charts, videos, and graphs.
- I’d like to see all my results in one place, is that possible?
360° visibility of brand health on a content performance dashboard allows you to quickly spot shifts in results. You can react fast and stay ahead of the competition.
- Can I receive notifications about changes in my results?
You can set up alerts to keep you up to date about key metrics, new results, and unusual activity that may require immediate action.
- Am I able to badge my social media dashboard with my own company logo?
White labeling allows you to customize dashboards and social media reports with your corporate branding.
- Is it possible to combine third-party data sources with my internal data?
Importing external data and adding to your in-house data will reveal correlations that could affect your marketing campaigns. For instance, a retail outlet could include weather data to understand what flies off the shelves before a storm hits. Finding an increase in the sale of waterproof clothing, bottled water, torches, candles, dried goods, means the outlet can increase stock, and increase revenue.
- I’ve way too much data to be able to find what I’m looking for. Can I use filters?
If your social reporting tool has rule-based tagging, you’ll be able to add filters to past and future data. These rules can be set to flag up negative mentions, delete irrelevant mentions and spam, and assign mentions to teams around the world.
- Define business goals - increase revenue, gather consumer feedback, improve customer service, increase brand awareness, create future marketing strategy
- Define KPIs - without, you can’t measure the success/failure of your marketing strategy
- Social media channels - one size doesn’t fit all. Peak engagement times on Twitter, may be different to those on Facebook
- Listen to your audience to ensure your content is targeting the correct demographic and that it’s engaging with it
- Analyze top-performing posts - consider format, language, image, voice, timing, response rate
- Brand advocates - monitor your tweets for mentions by industry influencers
- Results - show what’s working and what isn’t. Present to your team, organization, boss – to prove and improve future social media marketing campaigns
To show you how great your social media reports can look - download three simulated Talkwalker reporting templates. They're seriously gonna up your game!