A Guide to Creating Social Media Reports

Writer:
Catherine Lovering
Editor:
Stephanie Gray
Published: May 29, 2024
Last Updated:
Table of Contents
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Your brand is all over social media, but are your campaigns having any impact? A social media report can answer that fundamental question. The report should be part of your marketing toolkit, which you use to make strategic, data-driven decisions. 

What Is a Social Media Report?

Your brand’s presence on social media might have once been “nice to have” as a backup channel for your customer service team. Now, social media is a vital way for you to get your message out. It’s central to your marketing strategy, providing the means by which you can reach your goals for brand growth and impact.

Social media reports are detailed, channel-by-channel breakdowns of social media insights benchmarked against your marketing goals. Using key metrics like follower growth, top-performing posts, engagement rate, and click-through rate, the reports let you evaluate the success of your social media optimization strategy.

Benefits of Reporting for Your Social Media Strategy

Your social media reports draw upon many of the same content marketing metrics you use to make data-driven decisions about your marketing strategies. They let you see at a glance what is and is not working in your current social media efforts. 

Perhaps you can hear crickets on some channels — lots of social media posts but an empty or silent audience — while other platforms are unexpectedly on fire. Reporting tools offer a level of insight into what’s happening on your socials that you can use to harness the best avenues for brand growth. 

From these reports, marketing teams derive actionable insights about social media campaigns they can use to refine their future strategies. This is the basis of data-driven marketing, where you can use relevant facts about your social media performance to make decisions. 

You don’t have to sit in a room with your team, poring over social media posts, making your best guesses as to what will have an impact. Social media marketing reports give you an unobscured lens into how you can reach your target audience.

11 Best Practices and Tips for Creating Reports for Social Media

For your social media reports to have the most significant impact, first consider who’s reading the report and the nature of their interest. Then, it’s critical to assemble the social media analytics in a compelling but accurate way so that the audience can quickly absorb the key takeaways.

1. Think About the Audience That Will See the Report

The level of audience familiarity with social media metrics is relevant to how you structure and format your report. The more they know, the less you’ll have to explain. By the same token, the more they know, the more you’ll have to justify your choice of which social media key performance indicators (KPIs) to highlight.

You might develop different reporting structures for different audiences. For example, the internal marketing team reviewing monthly reports on social media performance might receive less explanatory text. At the same time, the quarterly summary given to C-suite executives might include more background information.

In addition to the audience, consider the context in which the report's findings are presented. You might need to offer less background information if you provide an overview of the report during a meeting or presentation. If you’re giving clients a self-serve version of their social media analysis, you might consider giving them easy access to every resource for a complete picture of the data.

2. Highlight Key Findings in an Executive Summary

Whether presented on a “self-serve” basis or in a meeting or presentation context, you’ll want to call out the report’s key findings. Typically, you’ll have done your own social media report analysis, so you can offer important insights about what the numbers indicate about marketing performance. 

The summary section is either a narrative or a bullet-pointed list that clearly lays out those insights. Some of those insights can be merely descriptive, such as:

  • Post engagement on LinkedIn has decreased 32% month-over-month
  • Click-through rates on Facebook have increased by 127% since the start of the new rollout
  • Engagement has dropped by 47% among the target demo of 18-35 year-olds
  • New channels on Instagram, Threads, and X have seen a growth in followers of 17%

While this is a bullet-point example, it’s also perfectly acceptable to group the key insights into a narrative that’s easy for executives and marketers of all stripes to read. Such a narrative might begin, “While the brand experienced a sharp decrease in engagement on LinkedIn, the new rollout has had a measurable impact on Facebook, with click-through rates more than doubling.”

You can tailor your executive summary to fit your audience. Start by asking yourself what an executive, a digital marketing strategist, or a social media specialist might want to understand about the numbers. 

3. Specify Objectives and Timelines

The objective of a social media report might seem self-explanatory, but there are several reasons why you might create one. Try to avoid empty explanations like, “Here are some figures about our social media,” and hone in on the report’s raison d’être.

An example might be “to measure performance across social media channels in light of the new product rollout and accompanying social media campaign.” This specific objective needs not be tailored to a particular campaign or objective. A regular monthly report might aim to " monitor brand awareness and growth across social media channels based on social media KPIs.”

Timelines go hand-in-hand with the objectives. It’s sometimes helpful to think of a social media report as akin to financial reporting. Those financial reports commonly compare figures quarter to quarter or in relation to the same period the prior year. Your social media report documents activity over a specific time period, so be clear about what that period is.

4. Present Goal-Relevant Metrics and Comparisons

Social media strategy is goal-directed. While increasing all performance metrics is laudable, social media report readers are particularly interested in the goals that map to their strategy. In your report, you should identify which metrics are relevant to which goal.

Suppose your digital marketing team has assessed that posting short video content across channels is the best way to increase conversions among 18- to 25-year-olds. The ultimate goal is conversions, but the step before conversion is engagement. Therefore, a social media marketing strategy might seek to increase video engagement among 18- to 25-year-olds as a goal-relevant metric that should lead to future conversions.

Make a note of the word “increase.” It’s easy sometimes to forget in the casual talk of metrics that words like “increase,” “decrease,” and “growth” are concepts that can’t be understood in isolation. That’s where comparisons come in. By comparing data sets between time periods, between channels, or against competitors, you can arrive at a KPI that lets you assess your efforts' bottom line value. 

5. Review Performance To Identify Patterns and Trends

Timelines and comparisons are the nuts and bolts of another critical element of your social media report: patterns and trends. It’s helpful to know if engagement has increased 32% month-over-month, but what if engagement increased by 50% or more each month in the six months prior? This 32% increase now appears to be slowing growth.

By showing your data history over the past few periods or comparative timelines depending on your objectives, you can see patterns that might be obscured if your focus is too narrow — such as on the present or recent time periods.

As you compile your data for the social media report, you should cast your net wide enough to spot meaningful trends. This gives the report readers enough information to either dive deeper into the reasons behind the trend or go straight to a refinement of their social media marketing strategy. 

6. Compare the Performance of Different Social Platforms

It’s no secret that Instagram is not LinkedIn, is not Facebook, is not X… and so on. You likely already have a sense of which social platforms are the best fit for your business, but use them all nonetheless. After all, the common expectation is that if a brand has something to say, it will say it everywhere — not in just one corner of the social media landscape.

However, social media posts — which are free on most, if not all, platforms — are not the same investment as a pay-per-click campaign or partnership with an influencer. That’s why knowing how your brand performs platform by platform is essential. When the time comes to make an investment, you’ll want to know where you have the biggest audience and which platforms are most likely to convert.

7. Share Updates on Audience Demographics

That audience hopefully aligns with the buyer persona you have developed for your brand offerings. If your social media strategy works effectively, you should choose the social channels that reach your target demographic and encourage engagement. 

The devil’s in the data, however; you might find that you’re capturing an entirely different demographic depending on the channel. This might result from a mismatch in your strategy or the fact that particular social media channels are more popular with specific demographics. For example, Instagram's audience tends to skew younger than Facebook's.

Your demographic data can also include growth metrics, such as whether your attempts to reach that coveted buyer persona through social media have actually seen some success.

8. Include a Competitor Analysis Section

Unless your industry is highly exclusive and your offering is wholly unique, you are not the only horse in this race. There’s almost nothing you can sell that someone else isn’t also selling — and using the same social media channels to do so.

That’s why a robust social media report should include information about your competition. Who’s reaching the customers you want to attract? Hopefully, your competitor analysis will also show you have some advantage over the competition.

9. Provide Insights on Your Social Media Content and Types

Remember that earlier example of video content being the most effective for reaching the 18- to 25-year-old demographic? Brands can glean that information in many ways, including third-party reports and surveys.

However, you’ve likely also drawn on your own data analysis. Part of that analysis is what content has the most impact. Your social media reports should outline how formats — video, text, pictures — compare when it comes to engagement. 

Other helpful information includes the most accessed subjects and topics—first-person interviews, how-to videos, makeup tutorials, etc. This gives you an idea of what kinds of content should receive your next marketing budget investment.

10. Apply Data Visualization Best Practices

Let’s face it: Reading a graph is easier than stumbling through numbers. Ideally, your report provides both. You can include key metrics in pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and other visual representations. Think of the trends and patterns mentioned previously: There’s nothing like a line graph to show what’s happening with a metric over time. 

Remember, though, that, like bullet points, sometimes too many graphs can lose all meaning. Consider calling out a few key metrics to represent visually and grab the reader’s attention. 

11. Summarize Your Report and Suggest an Action Plan

Your report's summary should do more than just succinctly restate what you’ve already laid out in more detail. The best social media reports include an insights-based action plan outlining how best to move forward based on the report's facts and figures. 

In your social media reports, offer a few recommendations on how to proceed, given the stated goals and objectives of the social media strategy.

Social Media Reporting Tools To Help You Simplify the Process

Any company engaged in digital marketing likely has a suite of social media tools to run social campaigns. In addition to their reporting capabilities, many tools offer ways to track, manage, and refine strategies on social media channels. Therefore, you can typically use your first-party data to create customizable, in-depth reports. 

This is just a sampling of some of the solutions that might work for your reporting needs:

If you’re looking for a less robust solution, browse the developer capabilities of the social media platforms. If you want a few up-to-the-minute numbers — like how many people saw or clicked on an individual social media post — you can typically pull that data right off the platform. 

Key Takeaways

A social media report provides an in-depth look at the results of a social media strategy. By focusing on specific KPIs, time periods, and social media marketing objectives, the report offers data for strategic decision-making. 

FAQ's

How do I analyze social media reports?

Ideally, a social media report is analyzed during its development. You’ll use various social media analytics tools to gather data on KPIs and compare them to your social media goals. Benchmarking your measurable results against strategic goals can help you assess whether the new marketing plan is succeeding.

If you’re reading a social media report prepared by someone else, look closely at what the numbers mean. KPIs rarely offer deep insights as standalone measurements. It’s only when compared to past performance, expected performance, or ideal performance that KPIs can be labeled “good” or “bad.” 

What is the best way to present a social media report?

Ideally, a social media report provides enough information to stand on its own. If you've included enough explanatory notes, visual aids, and raw data when preparing the report, you should not have to worry about a formal dialogue about its content. Similarly, if you’ve prepared a report that’s specific to your audience, you shouldn’t need to offer further clarification or detail.

If you must formally present the social media report, provide an overview of its significant insights, including compelling visuals of vital findings. Encourage the audience to probe further for details and be prepared to give the requested information.

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