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The Side Dish

Creating Reporting that Resonates with Social Media Clients

Chelsea Warren, Social Media Specialist / 7.17.2018

That which is measured improves. I truly believe this adage, especially as it relates to social media performance. Measurement equals accountability, which in turns fosters diligence and care.

But when it comes to social media reporting, not all reports are created equal. In the last two years, I’ve been dedicating myself to coming up with a more refined system for reporting in a way that resonates with my clients. I am fairly certain this journey is far from over, but here are some insights I’ve garnered along the way.

Loathing. Unadulterated Loathing.

I’m a words gal. I grew up in a family of readers, so English came very naturally to me and going into communications as a career made perfect sense.

I am not, I repeat, NOT a numbers gal. I had to take stats twice in college. I somehow manage to mess up simple math even when Excel and calculators are doing the heavy lifting. Anytime I get the basic algebra right on my monthly activity report, it’s a cause for team-wide celebration.

social media reportingWhen I first started working in the social media realm, I loathed the beginning of the month. It meant that the most dreaded thing in my life was coming – monthly reporting! I knew I was going to spend hours tracking down every single little number related to social media. And once I finally tracked them all down, I had to cram them into Excel spreadsheets and pretty graphs to present to the client.

At the end of the day, there was only thing the clients really seemed to care about – were the numbers going up? This is a pretty common attitude. And yet, it fails to tell the whole story, because social media is about more than just numbers. It’s about people.

Hello Beautiful.

After several months of these number-heavy, word-scarce reports, one of my clients experienced a changing of the guard with their leadership. The new head honchos understood the true value of social media marketing and wanted to know more than just the numbers. They wanted to know the story behind the numbers. And they had a lot of questions, like:

  • Who were the people we were talking to?
  • Were they the right people?
  • What were the tactics we were trying?
  • What were our competitors doing?

As we asked these questions and discovered the answers, stories and patterns started to emerge, which became the main focus of my reports. As a professional storyteller, I loved this change! I loved it so much, in fact, that I started paying a little less attention … OKAY, a LOT less attention to the numbers for my reports.

Finding the Balance.

Have you ever gone to yoga? I know this sounds like a non sequitur but stick with me. In your yoga class, you know that person in the back that’s super enthusiastic, but can’t keep their balance to save their life? Yeah, that’s me. I tend to take things to extremes and often fall over a couple times before I find my center.

It’s the same with social media. I swung between two extremes – all numbers, all stories. But neither presented the entire picture our clients needed to truly understand the state of their social media marketing efforts.

social media reporting

Measurement equals accountability, which in turns fosters diligence and care.

Social Media Reporting – All the Things.

Here are a few, actionable items that helped me to find my balance with my social media reporting:

  • Sprout Social: As a company, we decided to invest in a tool that would aggregate reporting for me. This enabled me to spend less time tracking down the numbers and more time looking at the trends. While it can be pricey, Sprout Social has the best reporting I’ve seen thus far.
  • Team Reporting: Until about six months ago, our reporting tended to be in silos. Each department within our agency would prepare and present a separate report, but each one looked aesthetically different. About seven months ago, we sat down with other teams in our office, determined an aesthetic approach and created templates to speed up the process. I can now do reporting in a fraction of the time. And it looks real pretty now, which is always a plus.
  • Intermediate Reporting: Now that I have the tools and processes in place to make reporting easier, I no longer dread it. (I’d rather be hiking than reporting any day of the week, but that’s probably true in all circumstances.) Because I can get instantaneous reports from Sprout Social, I can, and do, check my channels frequently. This helps me to course correct and keeps me from falling over mid-month.

Have you discovered an efficient system for social media reporting? Hit me up on LinkedIn and let’s chat! https://www.linkedin.com/in/chelsea-warren-02188017/