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Published June 28th 2024

Social Media Reporting: Essential Strategies for Effective Analysis

How can your brand leverage social media reporting to enhance strategic decision-making?

Effective social media reporting can make the difference between a successful social strategy and a dead-end communications effort that wastes time and money.

The right social media analytics tools can help your team generate hourly, weekly, and monthly reports packed with actionable analysis and insights to help guide your communications strategy.

Social media platforms like X, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram have transformed the way we communicate and access information in real time.

Over the past two decades, businesses have gravitated towards multiple social media platforms to expand their outreach, grow their brands, and even engage in direct sales.

Understanding where your brand, service, or product fits within social platforms is crucial to creating future strategies.

And that's where social media reporting comes in. This guide will show you how to leverage social media metrics to get a better understanding of your industry. We'll look at the core components required in social media analytics reports and identify the relevant metrics to look out for.

We'll also point you to the top social media analytics tools available today that can help you get the most from your reports.

Overview of social media reporting

Before we look at social media reporting in detail, it's important to define what we're talking about.

Social media reporting is the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting data from social media accounts. Usually, the focus is on your brand's social accounts, although you could run competitor analysis on other brands' profiles.

Once you've collected this data, you can generate reports that both assess your brand's existing strategy and help inform future decisions.

This analysis-first approach involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), which help you understand the effectiveness of your social media strategy.

Social media reporting metrics 

Some common KPIs for social media reporting include:

  • Engagement rate
  • Reach
  • Conversions

Here's a little bit more about these metrics.

Engagement rate evaluates how well your audience interacts with your content. This could focus on how many views or clicks your posts get, or whether readers repost or leave comments.

Reach measures the total number of people who have been exposed to your content. Social platforms like X show a post's reach in all posts.

Conversions are the specific actions taken by users, such as clicking on a link or making a purchase. It can gauge how successful social posts are in gaining new followers.

There are further advanced metrics that we'll discuss later in this guide.

Importance of reporting in social media strategy

Social media reporting is essential for several reasons, mainly allowing you to:

  1. Evaluate and improve your current strategy
  2. Identify the best-performing content and channels
  3. Allocate resources more effectively
  4. Communicate results to stakeholders as part of a wider reporting process

Reporting is just one stage of your overall social media marketing strategy, where the goal is to achieve a desired return on investment (ROI).

But it's also one of the most important stages. Get the reporting wrong and all your efforts to collect social media data could be for nothing. That's why tools like Brandwatch allow you to create custom reports based on all the data you've collected.

Get it right and you'll have a clearer understanding of your performance, which makes it easier to allocate your resources – such as budget and time – more effectively.

Core components of social media reports

A social media report is broken down into a number of sections that make it as easy as possible to understand all the data points. If you use reporting tools such as those available at Brandwatch, you'll be able to craft a document with the following structure:

  1. Intro and theory: What is the issue and why you're doing the report?
  2. Process and expectations: What specific data are you looking to gather to produce workable and actionable results?
  3. Core metrics: The data you collect from social media channels, including graphs and charts to simplify the numbers.
  4. In-depth analysis: Further analysis of relevant metrics to build a better picture of your results.
  5. Conclusions and actions: Discussing what your social media report shows and the key action points to take away.

Custom reports give you the flexibility to create documents according to your preferences and draw in information from across your social media data sources.

Understanding social media analytics

If you're a marketer or PR professional tasked with generating social media reports, then you'll likely be able to present the theory and conclusions as part of your overall strategy for your brand.

However, where many people struggle is identifying which social media metrics are relevant and which ones are not.

Here are the main metrics that you should consider including in any social media report:

  1. Engagement: Likes, comments, and shares. This is the easy stuff, but it shows how people are interacting with your content. It's a strong indicator of brand connection and interest.
  2. Reach: The number of potential unique viewers your content is exposed to. A higher reach means more people are seeing your content, making it essential for brand awareness. However, by using a tool like Brandwatch you can dig deeper and see where your content is going, and whether your reach is extending in the wrong direction.
  3. Impressions: The number of times your content is viewed, regardless of whether the same user sees it multiple times, is also important. While not as indicative of true audience size as reach, impressions help you gauge content visibility. It also helps reveal trending or viral content where people come back to it again and again.
  4. Audience growth: Tracking the increase or decrease in your social media followers gives a snapshot of how successful a campaign has been. You can also track the audience growth rate over time.
  5. Click-through rate: Measure the percentage of people who actually click on a call-to-action or link within your content. Higher click-through rates indicate effective content marketing strategies, driving traffic to your website or other platforms.

Relevant data

Now, let's identify the relevant data that should be incorporated into your social media reports:

  • Audience demographics: It's important to know who is engaging in your content. If you're a doll manufacture and realize your core demographic is customers aged 65+, then perhaps you're targeting the lucrative grandparent market by accident. Include data on age, gender, and location to understand who is engaging with your content, allowing you to fine-tune your messaging and targeting.
  • Sentiment analysis: How are people reacting to your social media posts? Use social listening tools to generate sentiment analysis reports and see what your audience really thinks about you.
  • Top-performing content: Digging into your best-performing content helps identify what resonates most with your audience. These insights can inform your future content creation.
  • Competitor analysis: Comparing your performance and metrics to competitors allows you to assess your brand's position within the market and identify areas for improvement. Perhaps your social media efforts are less impactful than a rival's? Or maybe you've got a more efficient social media team that gets a better engagement rate from fewer posts.

Setting up social media reports

Professional social media reports need to present high volumes of complicated data in a clear, simple format. By doing this, you can share valuable insights across your team and other stakeholders before pushing ahead with fresh strategies.

Your report might be the thing that convinces your leadership team to allocate more budget to your social channels. It might also support an organization's wider marketing efforts.

It's important to get the right social media reporting platform, so you don't waste time and resources scrambling to produce reports.

Choosing the right social media reporting tools

Creating a social media report requires the right tools. There are many all-in-one platforms out there, where you can mine the social media for data before crunching the numbers and generating hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

Your tool should align with your specific needs and objectives. For example, you don't need a LinkedIn reporting tool if your brand has zero presence on LinkedIn.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing your tools:

  • User experience: Pick a tool that has an intuitive interface and is easy to navigate, such as Brandwatch.
  • Features: Ensure your chosen tool offers a comprehensive set of reporting functionalities, including analytics and insights.
  • Customization: Your software should allow you to create custom reports tailored to your requirements.
  • Integration: Seamless integration with existing social media platforms and other tools in your tech stack is crucial.
  • Pricing: Factor in both the cost and the value provided by the social media reporting tools when making your decision. Are you getting an acceptable ROI?

Best social media reporting platforms

Three of the leading social media reporting tools are:

Brandwatch: Listen in to social conversions across the industry, even those that aren't directly linked to your brand. Generate sentiment analysis reports to gauge where your brand sits within its industry and the broader social landscape. Brandwatch's all-in-one social media analytics tool allows you to generate instant reports.

Keyhole: Ideal for agencies, Keyhole helps you monitor your online presence and streamline your social media management at the same time. Create visually eye-catching reports that transform spreadsheets and tie it all in to your marketing strategy.

RivalIQ: Use this quick, free tool to measure your social media presence against your competition on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and X. Use RivalIQ's benchmark dashboards to generate quick reports and see where your competitors have stolen an edge over you.

Utilizing social media reporting software

Regardless of what social media reporting software you choose, it's important to make full use of the available features. Here are some guidelines to follow when utilizing these tools:

  1. Define your goals: Specify your objectives, such as increasing engagement, followers, conversions, or brand awareness. This will help you focus on metrics that support these goals and champion them at the report stage.
  2. Configure your software: Properly set up and connect your social media reporting software to your social media accounts. With a tool like Brandwatch you can do this in seconds. This ensures accurate results and smooth data collection.
  3. Organize your data: Use your software to assemble crucial reporting metrics (like the ones we mentioned above) into a clear, easy-to-follow format. Remember, a social media report needs to be understandable.
  4. Schedule regular reports: Establish a consistent reporting frequency according to your business needs, which will help you identify trends. This can be a daily, weekly, or even monthly report.
  5. Monitor performance: Track key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your goals and make sure to adjust your tactics or strategies when needed, based on insights gathered from your reports.

Report template and creation strategies

It's unlikely that you'll use a social media reporting tool just once. Your reporting activity will span years and perhaps cover a range of stakeholders.

So, it's important to create social media report templates that can be used again and again. This way you can more easily compare historical reports and ensure you're on the right track.

Here's how it's done:

Creating a social media report template

You can create an effective social media report template using your chosen software. Being able to customize templates is important so you only keep the data you actually need.

Steps for creating a report template:

  1. Define your objectives and goals: Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are directly related to your business goals. This will help you focus on the most important metrics.
  2. Select the social media platforms: Choose the social media platforms that are most relevant to your target audience and your business goals. If you're creating social media reports for just one social media network, then including others might create confusion.
  3. Gather data: Collect data on social media posts from each platform and compile it into a single report within your tool.
  4. Organize your data: Use a clean and clear format, such as a table or list, to present your data. Filter out the stuff you don't need. A quick tip here is to let a platform like Brandwatch filter the correct social media metrics.
  5. Visualize your data: It's best to create a chart or graph to illustrate your social media data, especially if you need to share it with other stakeholders. Your reporting tool should help you here.
  6. Regularly update your report: Keep your social media report template up to date by incorporating new data and modifying the report as necessary. This will help you create longer-term reports and obtain a better understanding of an entire project.

Quick tips for social media reporting

Everyone from lone marketeers to marketing agencies need to ensure their reports correctly display information relevant to their marketing campaigns. Creating a comprehensive social media report requires you to stay on top of your game.

Here are some quick tips to help craft killer social media marketing analytics reports:

  1. Keep it organized: Remember to use headings and subheadings to break up your content into easily digestible sections. You might understand a report in its raw format, but will your leadership team or your client? Organizing reports properly helps readers quickly find the information they're looking for.
  2. Be concise: Avoid lengthy paragraphs and complex language. Keep your report brief and to the point.
  3. Use visual aids: Incorporate charts, graphs, and images to help illustrate your findings and make your report more engaging. You can do this when reporting with a tool like Brandwatch.
  4. Include a cover page: It sounds basic but adding a cover page to your report that includes your company logo, report title, and the reporting period will help. It looks professional and is a smarter way to present your social media analytics efforts.
  5. Choose consistent formatting: Messy reports look, well, messy. Ensure your reports have a cohesive look that runs throughout. Stick to one font and color scheme and use a report template if it helps.
  6. Proofread: Always proofread your report for typos and grammatical errors before sharing it with others.

Analyzing social media performance

Social media reporting is, in a sense, all about looking at the performance of your social media efforts. However, successful performance on social platforms doesn't guarantee a successful report.

One of the most important aspects of social media reporting is to find the problems within your social activity, outline how to eradicate the problems, and track your path to success.

Here are two issues you may come across when analyzing social media performance:

Engagement and follower growth

Reporting on your social media efforts that leads to great engagement and triggers growth is one thing. But what happens when your posts are doing the opposite?

The value of a report is to understand engagement and follower growth rates, and what you're doing right and wrong.

These two factors give you a comprehensive understanding of your audience's interests and how they interact with your content. It's just as valuable to see what's wrong as what's right.

Engagement metrics:

Monitor key metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks associated with your posts. By tracking these numbers, you can identify trends and determine which types of content resonate with your audience.

It's great to report on rising engagement in line with trends. However, it's probably more important to spot problems in your engagement rate, and where you're missing out.

Follower growth:

Followers on social media are a standard metric you can use to better understand your impact and influence online. Rapid growth can indicate successful campaigns, while sudden drops could signal issues with your content or posting strategy.

Growth rate is also just as important as size. You might, for example, publish a monthly social media report that shows followers on X doubling every 30 days. But what happens if that drops? Is that because people are not seeing your social media marketing efforts as much? Or perhaps you've begun to saturate the market?

Follower growth on any social media channel is difficult to get right because eventually, everyone hits a ceiling. That's why setting strong, realistic ROIs here is important for understanding the true success of growing your follower base.

Cross-channel and quarterly reporting

Effectively tracking your social media performance goes beyond individual platforms.

It's essential to compare results across channels and over time to gain a comprehensive view of your overall performance.

Cross-channel reports:

Analyze your performance on different platforms to identify your most successful channels and understand how your audience engages differently across them. To do this, you'll need a tool like Brandwatch to oversee everything.

Otherwise, compiling a report with data pulled from TweetDeck, the Meta Business Suite, and Google Analytics could take days.

Quarterly reports:

We spoke about monthly reporting above, and it's just as important to regularly compile quarterly reports. Here, you can assess your performance across longer time scales and ensure your content strategy aligns with your goals.

Break down your results by platform and compare your data to previous quarters to measure improvement.

If one platform is lagging behind the others, then you can easily spot this and address it by tweaking your marketing campaign. If you have invested most of your budget into another platform, and it's also failing, then perhaps it's time to rethink your strategy.

Leveraging reports for strategic planning

Spending time and resources obtaining social media data is, of course, important for guiding your current strategies. However, this data can also give social media teams a starting point when they strategize future campaigns.

Here's how you can use your existing data to improve your future output. 

Influencing future marketing strategies

By closely analyzing social media reporting, you can identify trends and patterns that will help refine your overall marketing strategy.

For example, a paint company sells out of pine green after a successful social media marketing campaign. The company plans to re-run the campaign and order more stock, but its social media marketers realize people are also speaking about how pine green matches well with punch pink.

Rather than go all-in on marketing pine green again, the team decides to create a strategy that promotes punch pink alongside the most popular color.

By using social media data correctly, the team has found a new route to promote their products.

Planning future social media campaigns

So, how does the team plan its new social media campaign? By using a tool like Brandwatch, you can compare existing campaigns and use the same template to create fresh ones.

This is the first step when planning a future campaign and is ideal for teams who need to act fast to stay on top of trends – such as a boost in interest for punch pink.

Social media reporting plays a vital role in designing and executing your new campaigns. To plan effectively, consider:

  1. Setting clear goals: Define your objectives for your campaign, whether it's increasing brand awareness, attracting new customers, or improving customer retention. In our example, it's about introducing a new product to the wider market while also benefiting from the success of the previous campaign.
  2. Analyzing past performance: Review previous campaign results and identify strategies that worked well. You might, for example, want to tweak your content strategy and give your social media ads a facelift.
  3. Segmenting your audience: Develop targeted and personalized campaigns based on audience data from your social media reports. If one demographic is talking about peach pink more than others, then it's time to focus on them.
  4. Testing and iterating: Continuously test different content types, formats, and posting schedules to determine what works best for your brand. You can use Brandwatch's AI tool to help you craft different and relevant copy, too.

Reporting for different audiences

Remember, the reason you're creating reports about social media channels is to share them with other stakeholders. You might need to discuss issues with fellow team members or share a success story with a client. Perhaps you need to bargain with your leadership team for more funds to pay for a successful social media marketing strategy.

Here's what to do when it comes to reporting for different audiences:

Tailoring reports for marketing teams

When presenting reports to your social media marketing team, it's crucial to focus on audience demographics and the target audience.

This will give the team first-hand insight into who they need to target.

To communicate effectively, consider using tables and bullet points to display relevant data concisely. For example:

  • Age groups: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+
  • Gender: Male, female, other
  • Location: USA, Canada, UK, Australia, etc.

Highlight trends and insights within these demographics, such as the most engaged age group or the primary location of your audience.

Your marketing team can then get started on addressing the demographic issues you've flagged.

Client-focused social media performance reports

For client-focused reports, concentrate on demonstrating your client's social media performance. You need to be honest here. If a client's social presence is failing, then you can't hide behind the numbers. Explain why their brand is problematic and include in your report ideas for addressing these issues.

Use visuals like charts and graphs to showcase key metrics and progress toward goals.

Your clients will probably be interested in the following:

  1. Follower growth
  2. Engagement metrics
  3. Top-performing posts

However, you can also show them information such as social listening data and sentiment analysis that goes beyond the basics. By digging into the details within your reports, it's possible to keep clients happy even if their social media campaigns aren't doing as well as you expected.

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