Have you ever looked at a social media campaign report and thought, What does this really mean? Face it, data alone is unable to tell a story. It can’t highlight the most important issues; tell you what to do next or where to focus limited resources. And adding more data won’t help.
Useful reports come from planning and having the right implementation process. Here are a few suggestions.
1. PLAN FOR ACTION
Visualize the end result first, during the planning process. What should the final report look like? What do you need to see to determine if the program was a success? What indicates if your activity is headed in the right direction?
As you plan your social media strategy, define a goal to match each activity. One simple framework for goal setting is the acronym, SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. If your plan is to build a social following, one goal might be to generate 150 new followers on Facebook within one week by hosting a contest:
- Specific: Get 150 new followers through a contest
- Measurable: The total number of followers gained is identified through analytics
- Attainable: 150 new followers equals 5 percent of our current following, obtained in one year
- Relevant: Growing our followers will increase our message reach on social media
- Timely: One week
The “Attainable” metric requires you to have realistic expectations according to your unique business. The best benchmarks come from history. If you are getting started with social media now, compare your data against industry-reported benchmarks. But begin with the mindset that the first few campaigns will set your standards going forward.
“Relevant” means tying campaign activity back to broader communications strategy. Sometimes, you can get so deep into tactical execution that it’s difficult to remember the key reasons why you are doing social media. Including reporting in campaign planning will help you remember and keep you on track moving forward.
“Timely” is an aspect of goal setting that should not be over-looked. Defining a reasonable timeframe completes the definition of a realistic goal.
2. CREATE REPORTS
Your reports should include metrics that matter. Beware of standard analytics reports. They are general by intent so that they can serve a variety of businesses. Yet, within the process they are rarely useful. Be ruthless. Eliminate metrics that don’t inform how your program is progressing. Remove so-called interesting facts that don’t guide actual decisions.
You may find that separate reports highlighting different metrics for each stakeholder in your organization is a more efficient method than trying to report everything to everyone. Some metrics are useful to different managers but not for others. For example, Bandwidth data is important for IT managers who know what to do with it, but not necessarily for the C-suite.
3. COMPARE REPORTS
Single points of data don’t provide enough information. For example, 32 new followers liked us from a recent Facebook contest. Is that good or bad? We had a goal of 150 new followers, so 32 is disappointing.
What did we do differently with this contest that might have caused such poor results? We’ll want to make sure we don’t repeat those mistakes. In such cases, you need to ask: Perhaps there is another social media channel where our effort might be better rewarded?
4. LEARN AND GROW
Successfully implementing the process streamlines reporting efficiency. You’ll know what you are looking for in the data, which will save time and make analysis easier.
As you proceed, build up a knowledge base of benchmarks based on your results to help guide future decisions. Failed campaigns then become part of the learning process.
CONTACT: Mike Samec is director of digital strategy at Gibbs & Soell Business Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow Mike on Twitter, @msamec
This article originally appeared in the August 3, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.