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Published November 25th 2013

How to Make Great Reporting Dashboards That People Will Love

In the world of social media monitoring, reports and dashboards are the hot stuff.

It makes sense, right? You’ve got some tasty insights and have done some delving to uncover the most meaningful stats.

The next logical step is to want to share that info with the world (ok, maybe not the world, but your colleagues and bosses, at least).

Brandwatch has lots of different features that help sharing those insights with your team members super easy and (possibly, if you really love stats) super fun.

So, how do you build a reporting dashboard that’s going to knock everybody’s socks off?

1. Find some insights


First, customise the dashboard to show the insights you want.
We’ve got some posts about making custom dashboards for specific use cases here, but ultimately only you will know which insights you need and therefore how best to set up your dashboard.

There are some tips at the bottom of this post about content for your dashboards to help you on your way.

There are also hundreds of posts on this blog that talk all about how to find different insights. Take a look (but not until you’ve finished this one, obviously).

You can start by using one of the default dashboards within the system, or can completely start from scratch if you prefer to work from a blank canvas. We give you both options in the app, because we’re nice like that.

2. Lay it out clearly


We recommend dividing your dashboard into tabs, with each tab on a particular theme/finding, containing one or more components.

You can use multiple components on each tab, and can lay them out underneath each other, or drag and drop them to be side-by-side – particularly useful when trying to compare two charts or word clouds!

3. Don’t leave them guessing


Label your tabs and components clearly.

In Brandwatch, you can edit the title for each component so that you can clearly signpost what the viewer is seeing.

Each component also clearly shows the date range, as well as the Query/Channel name, so there’s no confusion.
Component labelling

4. Do some thinking for them


Lots of pretty charts is always great, but sometimes you’ll need to do a bit of thinking for the viewer and uncover what the chart actually means.

In Brandwatch you can add notes – a free text box, if you like – alongside components, which is really handy for providing more detail on what the chart is showing, or to give some commentary and recommendations.

Dashboard commentary

5. Let them see it


Obviously once you’ve created your insightful masterpiece, you will want to share it.

You can choose to share your dashboard with other team members – either a specific individual, or everyone within the Project you’re working in.

You can choose to give them view-only access, or analyst access so they can edit mentions and change filters. It depends whether you want them fiddling with your charts or not (oo-er!)

6. Taking it out the app


If you’d rather take your reporting outside of the app (we’ll try not to be too hurt), you can do so in various ways.

You can export any of the charts as a JPEG or PNG image, to insert within your reports, and can also open word clouds in Wordle if you want more customisation.

You can also export all your data as an Excel or CSV file; great for playing around further with you stats in Excel (VLOOKUP anyone?) or creating your own charts if you prefer.

Bonus tips for creating a great dashboard


Of course, building a great dashboard isn’t just about the layout and format; content is key.

Here’s some quick tips for making sure your dashboards are useful as well as well presented:

1. Know what you want to show/the story you’re telling; i.e. what the reporting dashboard is for

2. Keep it simple; overly complex dashboards will mean people won’t read them

3. Make sure your reporting/dashboards are in line with the goals you’re working towards and answer the relevant questions

4. Keep it updated regularly (e.g. for weekly or monthly reporting). Refine the dashboard as you go to keep on improving it

5. CHECK YOUR DATA. We can’t emphasise this enough. If important decisions are being made based on your insights, be damn sure that it’s set up correctly. Check it. Now check it again. Good.

We hope this has been helpful – consider it an early Christmas present if so.

If you want more help, or want to know how to get your hands on Brandwatch so you can make your own amazing dashboards, get in touch.

If you want to turn your dashboards into engaging reports, have a read of our guide to writing a social media report.

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