We can no longer hide from the importance of using social media, no matter how reluctant some people are. But for those that have a hard time figuring out how all this wraps up in a coherent strategy, it would be ideal if you could prove that your daily online activities actually make sense.
It’s fairly easy for web companies or small agencies to understand why social engagement does pay off, but if you’re part of a bigger company or a traditional organization, how do you convince your boss that it’s worth investing time and money in social media? Determinining the ROI and value of social media has given headaches to marketers ever since the beginning. It’s definitely not an easy task to handle, but no matter how you choose to do it, it’s always bypassed by an important step called social media reporting.
Why should you care about social media reporting?
To make sure social media is worthwhile, you need to track your activities on a monthly basis – make that weekly, if your level of interactions is similar to that of a larger company. By gathering all the data into social media reports, you have the possibility to determine which channels are the most effective for building conversations and where exactly in the sales funnel do social media actions come up. In the end, what you’re trying to do is to gain insight into your community’s behaviour and figure out how it relates to your business goals.
“… each report serves as a benchmark for future activity.” (Brian Solis)
You’re probably already tracking your website’s traffic and measuring sales figures. So it makes sense that you would want to correlate all this with the numbers coming in from social media measurement. Especially if you’ve started employing online netwotks across all your organization, people from all departments (marketing, sales, customer support) would benefit from knowing how it all fits together and if it adds up to your overall business strategy.
How does the perfect social media report look like?
A great report is a comprehensive review of your brand’s online presence and an analysis of your market & clients. Let’s take a look at what performance metrics should this flawless report contain:
The big numbers (aka quantitative metrics):
- overall number of mentions – though engagement is not measured in numbers, it’s pretty clear why you would need to know exactly how many reactions your keywords caused to assess the impact of your social media presence
- top social platforms and the conversation share for each one of them – social networks where most of the buzz comes from and where to focus your attention
- overall exposure (views) – an estimation of how many times people viewed your content or anything you shared through social media
- geolocation – the countries, regions and cities where most of the talks took place
The refined statistics (aka qualitative metrics):
- audience demographics – who are the people that are driving the conversations surrounding your name (location, gender)
- conversations evolution on the social web (graphical) and top conversations by platform and subject
- tag cloud – most important topics related to the main subject
- sentiment - so you can understand your customers’ feelings, attitudes and opinions about your brand
- gender distribution – to know who to target on your next campaign
- top influencers – who creates most of the buzz and has the ability to change the way your business is perceived, how many people follow them
How to boost your social media reporting
After making sure all these mandatory metrics are included in your report, you can take the time to include some other extra information than will power up your reporting:
1. You should always have the option of filtering results by a specific demographic sector, country, social networks or timeframes. But what’s even more important is cross-filtering. For example, you might need the sentiment for a specific time period, top platforms used in Asia or how many women posted on Facebook about your last campaign.
2. Another feature is the possibility of including the actual text of mentions you are interested in (for example, mentions with a specific tag) – this is very useful if you want to highlight an update that got a lot of WOM on the web – for example, this tweet from Dropbox’ CEO after Google Drive was launched sure made a lot of people smile.
3. You could also benefit from Facebook and Twitter specific metrics, like the number of new followers and unfollows, mentions, viral reach and engagement graphs. These are not details you get a hand on by simply monitoring a keyword.
4. To check out industry trends, you can track your competitors’ names and specific topics from your line of work and add them in the report about your brand name. This way, you’ll identify emerging trends and significant changes happening in your market. Engaging in topics that are important for your business and establishing yourself as a thought leader is a great use of a detailed report. A comparison feature always helps in getting the full picture of what you’re tracking.
Having the data does not equal getting the insights
A good report should provide a comprehensive approach to monitoring – you don’t have to swim through oceans of data to gain insights that you can discuss upon at the highest levels of your organization. Developing an action plan based on the most important findings should also come in handy after flipping through an awesome report.
The end purpose of reporting is to back your future plans with reliable data and help you make informed decisions – not just about social media, but about your entire organization. You should be able to see at a glance what you’ve gained using social media and where to focus your efforts from now on.
What questions should a comprehensive report answer?
Reputation: Is there an increasing interest for your products or services in a specific part of the world? Is your brand visible enough for the demographic section you’re currently targeting or should you shift your focus? What values are people associating with your brand?
Attitude: How do people feel about your brand? What’s the tone of conversations around your brand name?
Costs: Where should you invest your social media efforts? What social network do your customers prefer to use? What percentage of your marketing budget should you allocate to social media? Will social media investments contribute to an increase in sales?
Competitors: How are others in your industry using social media? Who is setting the trends? Who are the key influencers in your line of work and how could you transform them into ambassadors?