🐚 The Salty Shell: The Secret to Social Media Reporting

Published 13 days ago • 9 min read

If you’ve ever created a social media report, you know how time-consuming and stressful the process can be. I did everything in my power to avoid math in college (and I succeeded) and I use it every day – BUT – now I love data because it tells me what I don’t know.

None of my clients’ reports are the same – and they shouldn’t be. Before I start the social media strategy I ask the client what they want to measure. Then I ask why. I take notes, ask questions if I need to, and keep my thoughts to myself. As I work on the strategy, KPIs start to emerge and create themselves.

The purpose of this issue is to help you understand what matters and why. You should WANT to do your report because it's a reflection of your hard work and it helps tell you what to do next!

🧂 Salty Insights: Death by Data

There needs to be a reason for what you are measuring and reporting on and everyone should understand it, otherwise pulling that data is a waste of time. Often, higher-ups will say something like “reach, impressions, and followers.” I love to ask why, and what numbers (literally) they’re expecting to see. No one ever has a reason or a number – they just want to see an increase.

🤔What is knowing the number of reach, impressions, and followers going to do for you? How will it help inform the next content calendar, campaign, or product launch?

I can get you an increase month-over-month, but that doesn’t mean how I did it was right or beneficial. If you have a Black Friday sale online, your reach and impressions are going to be a lot lower in January than they were in November – so are you going to be mad that they’re justifiably down? What's a 'good number' in January?

Reporting should be done with purpose and yield actionable insights and recommendations. You or your social media manager should look forward to reporting because it tells you what went wrong, what went right, what the community thought and what the opportunities are.

I've worked for15+ years across multiple industries with brands of all sizes and well-known agencies, and this is what I continue to see (until I get my hands on it):

  • Reporting is a pain in the ass, like telling a child to clean their room
  • Clients don’t look at the report unless you present it to them
  • Clients don’t understand the report unless you explain it
  • Social media managers stress when it’s time to write the explanation of each increase, decrease etc. because sometimes the numbers aren’t “good” or they truly have no idea why something performed the way it did
  • Explanations blame the algorithm
  • If you explain why it’s good, everyone is happy, if you explain why it’s bad, everyone is happy
  • Monthly reports are done well after the next month’s content is created (Reporting on February during the end of March)
  • Social media managers don’t understand the data
  • No one knows why they’re reporting on what they’re reporting on
  • There’s A LOT of bullshit in explanations to the client and the client believes it because ..... the reports are POINTLESS!

I get it – it’s hard to report on social media performance when it’s a bunch of numbers. Even when there is an increase month over month, are those numbers even good? Who knows! Sometimes there are quarterly or annual goals, but most agencies pull those out of their ass during planning.

I don’t blame clients for not being able to understand reports without having their hands held because it all goes back to no one has a clue why we are reporting what we are reporting on! Agencies are scared of their clients because like I’ve alluded to – they don’t understand social and performance (and that’s ok) so they start making up explanations or blame the algorithm. I swear…if I hear that one more time.

The point of a social media report is to measure performance as it relates to the strategy and goals, but it should go FURTHER, so let’s get into it.

⚓️ Anchor Your Success: Combat Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis is when you lose sight of the bigger picture, can’t pull insights, and have too much data to make actionable decisions. When you have too much and you’re trying to do too much it leads to missed opportunities, overworked analysts, waste of budget, slows decision-making, and lessens output.

We have to stop operating under the thought that more data means better insights. More data means more data and we have to be able to interpret it. With too much data, it’s easy to draw conclusions that can be interpreted differently and usually irrelevant.

Turning data into actionable insights and information leads to a better ROI.

Before you start reporting, create guidelines, processes, and room for evolution:

What do you need to know?

Don’t worry about what data is available right now or what you’ve looked at in the past. This is how we get into messy reporting situations – say an agency gets Sprout Social and chooses the KPIs based on the data available – so what? Why are we reporting on that?

Brain dump what’s important for you to know to meet goals, grow your community, convert whatever action it is a consumer would take (purchase, sign up etc) and inform content creation – write it all down.

Once you know what you’re looking for, everything else will fall into place.

Align with KPIs

Here’s my two cents on metrics to get you thinking – you should always have the answer to “why?”

What metrics truly support your goal and WHY do they matter?

Engagement (likes, comments, shares, saves): personally, if I love a brand or a post, they’re not going to know. Rarely do I like a post, I never comment. I share, save or screenshot. My recommendation and advocacy isn’t public. What’s the impact of engagement? You get 10k likes on a post. . . so what? If you’ve ever spent time in the comments, especially on food and beverage brands, you know the people of the internet are. . . um. . . unique. If 10k of those people liked my post, I wouldn’t be impressed. The only way to know what your community and target audience likes and wants is to ask them. Talk with them. Here’s one way I created a transformational approach to community.

Follower growth: sure, accounts need to grow, but what’s wrong with the audience you have? They’re not good enough? Would you tell them that? Rather, I’d focus on WHO your audience is – you could have 10K followers but are they relevant? Are they engaging? Were they bought with bots back in the day?

Social media traffic to website: this is hard and depends on where the post and link are located. When people are on social they want to stay on social.

Reach and impressions: what numbers are good numbers to you? Why? What if you don’t meet them? What if you exceed them? What if you get 1M reach and a .03% engagement rate – is that good because your goal was 10k reach? Make it make sense.

Conversion rates: remember, social is just a blip of the customer journey

Not everything can be or has to be measured by a number.

User generated content: now we’re getting to the good stuff. It’s not about the amount of UGC, though an increase is what you want as long as it’s positive, but it’s what you can do with UGC. Repost it, engage with it, build relationships, identify advocates, discover sub communities – I could go on – UGC is a gold mine and it BLOWS MY MIND that people don’t check or engaged with tagged content.

Engaged community: again, not something that needs to be measured by a number, but what’s your community like? You have 10k followers and average 2 comments per month – doesn’t sound like you have a community. Are they talking about you and not tagging you? Are they tagging you and you’re ignoring them? (See above). What does an engaged community look like to you and why does it matter? If you were giving me a report on my community I would want to know specifically who is the most engaged, what they talk about, who’s new, who’s creating gorgeous content?

Sentiment: you can use third party tools to measure sentiment but they often get it wrong. Go into Sprout and look at your smart inbox and check out the sentiment if you don’t believe me. The best way to know the sentiment around your brand and content is to read the comments and engage with the community and who would know that? Voila – your community manager!

Advocates: several of my reports have an advocate index. It consists of people who consistently talk about and with us, what they’re up to , what we know about them – from food preferences to their child’s birthday and opportunities to surprise and delight them. I’m not going to give away all of my secrets but if I’m a brand with a social media presence you better be telling me literally who my audience is.

Compare your list of what you want to measure and the KPIs that align with it to your strategy. What are you executing? What are you working toward? Are these aligned? It’s okay if goals and KPIs shift.

Walk away from your list for a bit and share it with another person on your team who can share a fresh perspective or have them do the same exercise, parallel. Come back with a fresh perspective hours or a day later and reevaluate.

Don’t worry about making the right decision, make the decision and iterate.

🌊 Brain Waves: How to get & analyze data

People

Your social media team should be creating the reports and if the community manager is a separate role, they need to be involved from the start – they can give you a rundown of the entire month off the top of their head, and are incredibly valuable for writing the insights. At one agency, they pulled in an analyst once a month and it was such a waste of time and money. They would spend 40 hours on a report I know no one looked at, they had no idea what the data was telling them because they had no idea what went on in the day to day. How do you expect someone who isn’t involved to come in, run some numbers and tell you if something is working or not?

If members of your social team say they don’t know how or don’t know what it means … I’m seriously asking you – are they really social media professionals?

Platforms

Each social platform provides data. Meta likes to change what that is every once in a while, LinkedIn should provide more, TikTok is evolving, and Pinterest is great. You don’t have to pay for a third party tool, but it saves a lot of time and pulls in additional data that’s useful.

Third Parties

Sprout Social, Emplify and the like have great reporting capabilities but it’s always going to be up to YOU to provide the insights. In 15 years, I’ve never seen a platform and a third party tool report the same number, which is one reason I don’t care much for numbers. At one point Sprout Social was the only tool reporting reach, the others only impressions.

If the half life of a social post lasts around 3 hours, why are you taking numbers so seriously? There are days I don’t check social until 10pm and could’ve missed some bangers – but that doesn’t mean the brand’s content sucked, it means their audience was out living their lives.

If you're intrigued, inspired, and lacking the time and resources to do this for your brand, reply to this email, and let's talk about how we can work together. Audits and strategies are my absolute favorite things to do!

👩🏻‍🏫 Related Reading:

Image for WELCOME TO THE DOWNLOAD!

WELCOME TO THE DOWNLOAD!

by Mindy Thomas, Founder, Upload Creative

A weekly newsletter designed to help you build confidence to upload your creative online. I'm sharing the actionable productivity tips and tactical strategies I've implemented in order to control of my career narrative and create a life that works for me outside of the traditional 9-5. Learn to monetize your knowledge online while you build authority, cultivate community, and fuel sales. Check out the resources offered below and sign up for the newsletter!

Image for Making the Brand

Making the Brand

by Brianne Fleming

Your favorite teeny bopper magazine with a professional twist! Each issue features marketing and content inspiration with nostalgic throwbacks, pop culture references, and deep dives on deep cuts 💜

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
Unsubscribe · Preferences

Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

Share this page