How to be a Rockstar Analyst in 2019
By Gemma JoyceDec 10th
Published September 30th 2016
I’ve come across quite a few articles titled ‘How to write a social media report’, and almost all of them follow the same pattern. They will identify certain metrics that should be included, like follower count, engagement per post, and so on, and leave it at that.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t include these metrics, but providing a one-size-fits-all guide is to do the influence of social media a disservice. You can use social data to answer a variety of questions, so each report will include different metrics depending on the question asked and the methodology used.
Any social media report can only be as good as the research it is based on. We’ve written a post guiding you through how to conduct social media research, so if you are planning on writing a social media report I highly recommend you read it.
What is the purpose of the report? Before writing the report, think about why you undertook the research or what you are trying to show. Social media reporting will generally fall into one of the following three categories.
Simple engagement metrics can be surfaced with free social media analytics tools, including inbuilt platforms such as Facebook Insights.
For a deeper dive into a research topic or campaign, an enterprise level platform like Brandwatch is needed. The categorization and detail that is possible can provide insights that free tools simply don’t have the functionality to provide. You can manipulate the data in numerous ways to uncover details and insights.
Whether you are writing a regular social media report, a campaign specific report, or a research report, you need to identify your questions at the start. Specific questions will deliver the most insightful answers.
So a report focused on a marketing campaign might ask “did the campaign drive spontaneous conversation among the target group of 15-34-year-old male sports fans?”. A piece of research could ask “What do women in their 50s want from a healthcare brand?”
The question(s) will lead you in developing a methodology. Think about which metrics to measure, as each one should be there for a reason. They should help to answer the question and measure progress against your goals. Not just appear because they look good.
This will depend on the type of report. A weekly or monthly roundup speaks for itself. A campaign-related report will obviously cover the duration of the campaign, but needs to include benchmarks from before the campaign to show the improvements gained.
A research report is more flexible and can look at a year’s historical data if you think it appropriate. It’s generally best not to cover too short a timeframe, as this increases the likelihood of a particular event skewing the data.
And only now do we come to actually writing the report.
A social media report is a story. It might not feel like one with its metrics and graphs, but you are telling the story of the data. And the social data tells the story of your customers.
As with writing any content, the first consideration should be who are you writing for? Who is going to be reading your report? If it goes to a high level they probably won’t have time to read a 42 page PDF.
I would include a small section at the beginning giving context to the whole report. The background will explain what the report is trying to measure, and include details of the campaign if relevant.
The methodology should outline the timeframe, markets and languages, and any other relevant details.
Here’s the thing: nobody wants to read your shit. Nobody, not even your mom, gets sent your PDF report and prepares themselves for an interesting read. So get to the good stuff first to grab their attention, and follow it up with the details and explanation.
The Inverted Pyramid is a technique used by journalists that can be useful in reports. The purpose of the technique is it allows readers to leave the story at any time and still know the most important facts. It’s worth keeping in mind when writing any report.
Put your key findings right after the methodology so even if a reader only gets to page two of the report they know the most important stuff. Hopefully, having these key findings up front will interest them enough to read on.
Unpack the story of the data with graphs and charts, always thinking of the best way to represent the findings. Explain the charts and include your analysis.
Remember to provide context – stakeholders who don’t work in social may consider a few negative tweets a full on crisis when they actually represent a tiny percentage of the conversation.
While the scale of social data makes a chart a natural way of displaying data, don’t forget that social media gives you the best of both quantitative and qualitative.
Including real quotes and social posts, alongside the real profile pictures, helps to personalize the data and remind the reader of the customers behind the numbers.
Ultimately, social media reporting tells the story of your customers, so should be interesting to anyone in the company. Be interested and dig deep during your research, and strive to present it in the most engaging way possible.