If you’re responsible for your brand’s social presence, you’ve likely felt the pressure before.

Managing social media is complex. Perhaps your boss wants to know that your efforts are paying off. Or other teams want to make sure you’re on the same page.

Like an artist perfecting a particular technique, social media reporting is an essential skill for marketers. You have to pay attention to the right details to convey a meaningful story so your audience can understand and have actionable next steps for your business. It requires the right balance of analytics and creativity to paint the entire picture and get your point across.

The largest challenge? Presenting your social data in a way that actually makes sense to your colleagues. As businesses invest more in social media, they want to make sure they’re receiving a positive return on investment (ROI). Reporting can help illustrate your social activities to your team and justify your strategy.

Throughout this post, we’ll cover reporting essentials and examples so you can explain and bring context to the bigger picture. Sprout’s suite of social media reporting tools include reporting by network, cross-channel reports and more. You can even build custom reports to ensure all your needs are met. You can access all of your social media analytics in one place with Sprout, making it even easier to present information.

Getting started with social media reporting

Let’s cover a few concrete steps to creating social media reports so you can get started ASAP:

Step 1: Consider your company’s social media goals

What are your social media goals?

Create a vision for what you want to achieve. You can think big, but keep your goals simple at first. Your goals should indicate you’re working toward something, whether you want to increase your followers, engagement or conversions.

Also stick to the principle of setting SMART goals:

  • Specific. Say which specific strategies you’re going to employ (user-generated campaigns, influencer marketing, Facebook ads and so on).
  • Measurable. Track any social goal with numbers.
  • Achievable. You need to make sure you have the resources (creatives, budget) to achieve your goals.
  • Realistic. Don’t promise results that you can’t produce (think: doubling your follower count in a week).
  • Time sensitive. Your goals need an endpoint. Give yourself a quarterly or annual timeframe to accomplish your goals.

Framing your data this way helps you understand whether you’re reaching your goals and clues you in on opportunities to pivot if you’re not.

Step 2: Choose your reporting frequency

First things first: You need to determine the time frame for your reports. All social networks allow you to pull data from their native analytics based on specific date ranges.

Exporting data based on time can be done in any social platform

Brands typically produce social reports daily, weekly, monthly and/or quarterly. Each reporting cadence provides different value. Here’s a quick overview of the benefits of the different timeframes:

  • Daily. You can monitor brand mentions and timely conversations that require immediate attention.
  • Weekly. These reports are great for spotting new and trending topics, along with timely optimizations.
  • Monthly. Monthly reports can help your team gain a better understanding of metrics, especially pertaining to your marketing campaigns and content strategy. This cadence is great to present to managers since they track progress towards goals like account growth and conversions.
  • Quarterly. You can assess overall social performance to help inform your strategy. Quarterly reports allow you to collect a larger sample size of data.
  • Annual. This is great for reviewing year-over-year comparisons and informing your overall marketing strategy.

Note that although short-term reports are helpful, they are skewed by anomalies (think: random high and low-engagement days). Quarterly and annual reports convey long-term trends. These reports also give you more time to prepare and dig deeper into your data. This informs your strategy more than surface-level data.

Social media is ever-changing, so it’s important to use data throughout the year to give various snapshots of your performance.

Step 3: Assess your reporting audience

Before putting together the report itself, think about who will look at the report. Who are you trying to show the bigger picture to?

Perhaps the marketing team wants a simple breakdown free of industry jargon, or a manager who isn’t social savvy. Or maybe your entire organization wants to know what you’re doing.

Based on your audience, you can better determine the level of detail and what points to highlight.

For example, marketing teams are interested in campaign-specific performance data. Meanwhile, leadership might be laser-focused on conversions and financial figures.

No matter who’s going to see your report, they’re going to want to see hard numbers related to your efforts. Pull the data that’s most important to the stakeholders and use those metrics to guide the context in your report.

Step 4: Make your social media reporting visual

Regardless of your audience, include visuals when reporting with stakeholders. Although reporting is analytical, remember it’s an art form too. Use data visualization to help curate your masterpiece and make your reports engaging.

A visual representation of your data and talking points is a good start. This makes your social media reporting even easier to digest at a glance.

Visual reporting is also great for highlighting events such as engagement spikes or shout-outs from influencers and other milestones your reporting audience is most interested in.

Sprout Group Report

With Sprout, you can customize your reports beyond the data you get from native analytics. These presentation-ready reports range from platform-specific metrics to your entire social presence.

Sprout Twitter profiles report

Social media reporting is more than a numbers game. Providing real-world data examples from your brand’s social media can open the eyes of your stakeholders. Use visuals to guide your audience to that light bulb moment to understand the impact.

Step 5: Provide competitive reports for more context

Pay attention to your competitor’s social performance as well. Studying their social presence can help inform your campaigns, inspire content and ensure you’re staying on top of industry trends.

Seek out competitors that have a similar social presence to your brand. For example, if you’re a local coffee shop, you wouldn’t compare your company to Starbucks. Other small and mid-sized coffee shops are closer competitors. However, Starbucks could help inspire content as a leader in the industry.

Once you have a good idea of your industry peers, use competitive benchmarks to report on the following:

  • Audience growth. Are you and your competitors growing at the same rate? If someone’s outpacing you, it might be worthwhile to do a deep dive on their content strategy.
  • Share of voice. Which brands are getting their content shared the most? Which social accounts are getting lots of love via hashtags? Maybe it’s time for you to get a bit louder, so to speak.
  • Content performance. Which brands are dominating key social terms in your industry? How often do these top performers post? Consider the type of content that is doing well too—do they use stories or short-form videos?

Third-party competitive analysis tools can help you answer some of these questions. Sprout has a number of tools that do some of the legwork for you such as the Instagram Competitors Report and our Facebook Competitors Report.

Step 6: Summarize your key learnings and next steps

Reporting is ultimately a review exercise to reflect and take action. Think of reporting as the muse or inspiration that drives the finer details of your overall strategy.

To round out your report, you need to let your audience know what you’re going to do next based on what you’ve learned (think: SMART goals). This could include running more ads or publishing more user-generated content—the choices are endless and your data can inform where to go.

As a final tip, remember to aim for conciseness when sharing information. Bullet points are more than enough: if someone needs further elaboration, they can ask.

Your social media reporting template

If you’re ready to level up your reporting, we have a downloadable template for you. This social media analytics template is a great starting point if you’re totally new to social media reporting. It features an editable spreadsheet so you can adapt to the needs of your brand and your preferred platforms. Simply click the button below to download the template and make a copy to get started.

Download Here

Track paid and organic performance for all your platforms. Plus, analyze data to paint the entire picture. There are a variety of social media analytics tools you can use to guide your reporting. Gather the data and complete the template to get started.

Social media reporting metrics to consider

The most important aspect of assessing social media ROI is conveying your KPIs.

The social media metrics you track should align with your goals, so select the KPIs that allow you to match up with your brand’s vision. Depending on who you’re creating the report for, you might include different KPIs.

Here are data points that should be front and center in your social media reporting:

  • New followers. Your follower count isn’t the be-all, end-all of your social presence, but it is a number you should strive to tick upward. You can drill these down from network to network or look at them across all accounts. Of course, this is great for social teams, but it could also be helpful to public relations teams as well as those who are focused on brand awareness.
  • Reach. Note the difference between reach and impressions. Reach refers to the potential unique viewers a post could have while impressions are how many times a post shows up in someone’s timeline. Expanding your reach should translate into expanding your audience. This is another great metric to show to public relations or corporate communications teams.
  • Engagement. Shares, comments and likes are valuable currencies for social marketers. Increasing engagement proves that you’re posting content that people want to see and interact with. Engagement is an important metric for content and social media teams who want to know what resonates with audiences the most.
  • Posts. How much content is your business pushing out? What kind of content posts perform the best? If you see a correlation between more posts and higher engagement, you’re more inclined to ramp up production. This metric is great for social teams since it can highlight trends among your audience.
  • Traffic. The more traffic to your site via social, the better. You can measure this easily in Google Analytics. Show these metrics to your web team or the wider marketing org.
  • Conversions. This is the most pressing metric for those interested in assessing your financial ROI. You can either set conversion goals in Google Analytics or look at the performance of your social ads to figure this out.
  • Clicks. Like engagement, click-throughs highlight compelling content. These can be divided into link clicks, promotion-specific clicks, and more. For example, click-through-rate is used for your ads and posts, which could be important to your marketing team.

reporting is critical for highlighting the financial ROI of your social efforts

Tracking multiple KPIs allows you to look at your social presence in a more holistic way versus harping on a single metric. You can find this data through native analytics or via Sprout’s reporting tools.

Social media reporting examples to follow

Now that you know the steps and have an idea of which KPIs are important, let’s review a few examples of great social media reporting to emulate. From small business to enterprise reporting, these examples should help inspire you.

One of our steps included using visuals to complement your report. Although you should definitely include charts and graphs, you can also grab screenshots of social posts that knocked it out of the park. Shout-outs, accolades and mentions from fellow industry players are also fair game.

For example, Adweek published a list of rising brand stars within Chicago and highlighted a Sprout employee on Twitter. If your stakeholders are interested in brand awareness, reach or thought leadership, this Tweet could illustrate how social is amplifying those goals.

You can also showcase when a customer applauds your product on social, like in the Tweet below:

Screenshot of Sprout customer praising the tagging system

If your stakeholders want to know if customers like a new feature or update, including visual praises like the one above are a great way to drive that point home.

Competitor Reports

Remember to pay attention to your competitor's data as well to benchmark your social media performance. The below Sprout report is a great visual example since it shows several relevant KPIs at the top, along with a graph illustrating audience growth.

Sprout Facebook Competitor Report

Network Report

Sometimes your stakeholders might want to focus on one network. The example below shows views, engagements, and other metrics for YouTube videos. Along with showing metrics, the thumbnails help illustrate the specific video listed in the report. This could help someone visualize why one video outperformed another.

Sprout YouTube Video Network Report

Custom Reports

Pull specific metrics by creating a custom report. The Facebook Custom Report below captures impressions, engagements, post link clicks and publishing behavior by content type.

Sprout Facebook Custom Report

Campaign reporting

Social media campaign management is challenging, but you can use reporting to guide your team. Reporting can help you determine success points, gather insightful data for future campaigns and highlight which metrics to hone in on the most. In the screenshot below, the reporter created a Tag Report to help track a campaign.

Sprout Tag Report

Activate your social media reporting strategy

From improving your social ROI to justifying your campaigns, social media reporting is a must for modern brands. Creating a comprehensive social report is much less daunting when you know what to focus on.

Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind:

  • Consider the goals of your company and show how the data ties back to those goals
  • Focus on KPIs that fit the interests of your stakeholders
  • Select the appropriate timeframe for your report
  • Use visuals including graphs, charts, and social media posts
  • Provide a competitive lens by presenting your peer’s data
  • Summarize your key insights and offer next steps

With the help of Sprout’s reporting tools, you can craft reports that mold the entire picture like the social media artist you are. Try your hand at Sprout’s social media reporting tools by signing up for a free one-month trial.