Social Media Reporting Tips (From Your Boss)

Social Media Reporting Tips (From Your Boss) Kevin Shively Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

I spend a lot of time analyzing stuff. I analyze personas, lines of business, channel performance, conversion rates, and interest in specific products and solutions. I segment content by topic, type, and delivery method to see what’s performing the best. I roll analysis up into reports that I share with my direct reports, my peers, and my boss. I’m a marketer. This comes with the territory.

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I’m not a social media manager. In fact, I don’t even directly manage our social media manager. But I do manage our social media manager’s manager. I’m twice removed from social media, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. And if you’re a social media manager, it’s likely your boss isn’t either.

Let me get the elephant in the blog post out of the way and just say that yes, Simply Measured is a social media analytics company. We build products for social media marketers, so I am much more cognizant of social media best practices and trends than many non-social marketers, but that doesn’t change my day-to-day responsibilities.

I lead our marketing communications group, so I’m responsible for several functions, and accountable for several metrics:

  • Production volume and quality of the collateral produced by our content marketing team (# of assets produced, typos, conversion rates, etc.)
  • Our PR firm’s efforts to establish Simply Measured as a thought leader and the brand awareness that drives (referral traffic, press mentions, etc.)
  • The consistency of our brand voice and visual representation across the entire company (enablement collateral and templates produced, # of assets that aren’t aligned, etc.)
  • The performance and resonance of each page on our website (conversion rates, PPVs, time-on-page, etc.)
  • And yes, social media (impressions, engagement, views, clicks, etc.)

The point–that I just used too many words to make–is that when something misses the mark, I’m accountable for it as much as the social media manager is; so is my boss, our VP of Marketing; and so is our CEO.

In my experience, establishing a good reporting habit may seem like a big lift, but it helps establish trust and credibility. These two things will make your life much easier.

I want to share some tips from my experience reporting to marketing and business execs over the years, and my experience on the receiving end of reporting from my team.

Your Boss Looks at Trends, Not Tactics

I regularly check in on our social media performance, but I’m not looking at the details. I’m looking at trends. This is how marketing analysis scales, and should be the central theme when you build your own report. Your boss likely has a lot of metrics they’re accountable for, so they aren’t able to drill down into each area that you’re on the hook for. They’ll look first to ask:

Is this program improving? Are we doing better or worse? We’re investing more. Is it paying off?

If your boss digs in and sees that social activity over the last year was up 72.16%, but key metrics like engagement only increased 1.35%, they may ask why that investment is being made. Be prepared for those questions.

Your Marketing Peers Look at Conversion Rates

Email marketers, web marketers, media buyers, content marketers…they’re all watching conversion rates (or they should be). How are you moving people from one stage of the funnel to the next? Conversion rates allow marketers to see where things break, and fix them.

Social media has the ability to make an impact at any stage–from awareness, to decision, to advocacy. It’s critical to understand your conversion rates, how they compare to other channels, and how your tactics impact them. This will make things clear to your boss, and put you on a level playing field with the rest of the marketing team.

An easy place to start is with conversions from audience size to engagement. How many of the people that follow you Liked, commented on, or Retweeted your posts? If your goal is to drive web traffic and purchases, then look at the conversion rate of traffic from social to goal completion. What could you have done better to make their path to purchase clearer?

Your Boss Wants a Snack, not a Meal

Keep things consumable. Give your boss a snapshot of what’s happening. On my team, we report against a rolling four-week average, and we compare our performance to how we’ve been doing on average.

If there’s a big change, highlight it and explain why, but do it in an easy-to-consume way.

Own Your Losses

If there’s one thing that drives me nuts (and that has driven bosses I’ve had nuts as well) it’s a lack of communication around misses. Ninety-nine percent of the time, no one is going to hold it against you if you tried something and it didn’t work.

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What they are going to be upset about is that miss you didn’t share, that resulted in them questioned about it from someone else. Own your losses. It makes you seem like a professional who is constantly striving for improvement and perfection. Data helps you explain a miss, and addresses what you’ll do to fix it…which brings me to my next point.

Always Leave ‘Em with an Action Plan

Any time someone on my team shares some analysis with me, I always want to know what they plan on doing with this information. Analysis is only useful when you do something with it. I like visibility into the programs that I’m accountable for, but I also want to be action-oriented, and the best bosses I’ve had over the years have been the same way.

  • If you find that your content about a specific topic is driving a higher conversion rate, share how you plan to double-down.
  • If you find that your posting volume doesn’t actually increase engagement or web traffic, explain that and share your plan to focus on quality instead of quantity.
  • If you find language or a tactic that works well on social, and which you think might work well as email or ad copy, share that with your team.

“What’s next?” should be your internal mantra. How do we use the information we have today to make a bigger impact tomorrow?

The Best Report Establishes Expectations

At the end of the day, you want to make sure your colleagues know what to expect. When will you be delivering reports like this? What is the cadence? Explain your intent, and collect feedback. Is the information you’re sharing useful to your boss? Is it helpful?

If you’re new to your role, this is a great expectation to set early. If you aren’t new, this is a great way to “reset” expectations. Communication is key to marketing success, and data makes communication crystal clear.

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Kevin Shively

As the Head of Marketing Communications at Simply Measured and generally delightful person, my job is to use data to tell stories to the internet that help the internet get better at telling stories...You're welcome internet.