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Published July 2nd 2014

10 Reasons Why Your Social Media Reports Are Useless

At Brandwatch, we work closely with agencies and we have had the opportunity to help our clients improve across the board and we want to share those experiences and things we’ve learned along the way with you.

/1 You are looking at the wrong metrics


  • Likes
  • Followers
  • Fans
  • RT

Though they look amazing when you buy them from X shady Facebook ad, or Y outsourced social media guru, these have little impact on the customer-brand relationship.

Though part of the story, these metrics alone don’t tell us about overall engagement or affinity.

If you want to highlight Likes, explain what drove that action: was it a post, was it a image or was it a promotion? Can you correlate this to an increase in sales, a lift in leads?

If you ask yourself the hard questions first, your client won’t.

/2 Learn how to take a screen shot


robot 1

I can’t believe how often this one comes up with clients when highlighting examples of reports!

Take your time when grabbing an image – check that it’s clear and large enough. Always remember most listening/analytics platforms have an export to excel/.csv function where you can resize your chart if your platform doesn’t support it.

/3 Bad news is okay


Though we all want to paint an amazing picture of engagement for our clients, sometimes bad things happen. Too many times I’ve seen client reports avoid the hard issues and/or simply not highlight key insights. Maybe Twitter isn’t the right channel for your brand, or your images aren’t getting retumbled or pinned enough. Let the data set you free.

/4 The audience is more than media types and numbers


Though screen shots of engaged tweets or popular posts are helpful, not building a dataset that allows the client to see what is driving engagements, the audience archetypes, interests or drivers simply doesn’t allow for actionable insights which in turn drive recommendations.


/5 Cross channel reporting (omnichannel if you like a buzzword) paints a complete picture


The best reports will always highlight how campaign X may have succeeded based on email, search, paid, experiential or even broadcast to understand the complete picture of audiences and effectiveness of engagements. If the opportunity exists to report on a complete dataset do take advantage.


/6 Over-sharing is okay in measurement


Though you want a concise “short” report, most modern tools will allow you to grant some sort of dashboard access. Rather than just showing the client slides and addendum, give access to a structured dashboard with customer data.


/7 Fonts, fonts and more fonts



This one is a personal pet peeve of mine and comes with experience. Take your time and make sure your fonts, formatting and colors are on brand. It takes a few moments and makes the difference between a well received deck and a memo asking to fix X, Y & Z before forwarding.


/8 Make sure the sentiment is ACCURATE


This metric, more than any other, will immediately lead a client to question the validity of your analysis and though it takes time, validation is key. Most modern listening and analytics platforms will allow human overrides to ensure accuracy.


/9 Algorithms are awesome, but they aren’t human


Even the most advanced analysis technologies are still in just robots. Topic extraction, peak detection and signal identification all rely on algorithms and textual analysis to find the most important parts of your data set.

The temptation may be there to simply trust your analysis to this, but in truth there will always be the need for a human analyst – sometimes manually diving into the data will surface hidden insights that a technology can’t find automatically, and any false positives churned out by the machine can also be isolated and dismissed. So, while there’s definitely great value in using sophisticated technology to aid users in the social data analysis process, be prepared to get your own hands dirty too.


/10 Know your tool


This one still makes me giggle from time to time when migrating clients from competing platforms – often when we discuss conversions, sometimes they might not even know why they are showing data to a client and what it means.

In conclusion, some platforms are simply better in supporting the points above but most will allow you to blow your clients away with good insight driven reporting.

We’ve also written a complete guide to writing a social media report.

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