Mastering Social Media Reporting Guide

Kimberly Surico |
 05/01/19 |
17 min read

Updated May 2019

Social media analytics does a lot for brands and businesses – guiding efforts and keeping brands out of hot water. But if you don’t report your results to the people making decisions, they may not realize how vital these social analytics truly are – or why.

Our new Social Media Reporting Series will explain the importance of reporting on your analytics insights, and how NetBase makes it easy to do. Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover.

Visual Dashboards Offer Quick Clarity for Busy Execs

Unlike other data sets, the info coming through social media reports is designed with the C-suite in mind. Those with the authority to make or break brand strategy have to know what’s happening to make smart decisions.

But that information has to be quickly and cleanly communicated. This is why visual dashboards are such a critical tool for analysts, managers, marketers and others who rely on social analytics insights. They succinctly convey the most important information at a glance to higher-ups seeking an update.

A Live Pulse from the World Cup – just one example of a visual dashboard

Of course, this is easier to understand when you have a sample to reference. We’ll be going in-depth in this guide, with sections dedicated to some key reports brands may choose to create, including (click to jump to each section):

There are templates to make things even simpler, or you can build your own custom dashboards and reports easily too. Let’s get started!

Brand Analysis Reporting

Every journey has a starting point, and that’s what a Brand Analysis Report offers. Before you can move ahead with any grand plans, you have to know where you are right now.

Are you excelling in the customer care arena, but flailing with product development? Are sales up, but social engagement down? Are new campaigns not quite hitting their mark, even though past campaigns slayed?

These questions – and any number of others – will dictate the way you bring data into your Brand Analysis Dashboard.

To clarify, a dashboard is simply a display of widgets chosen by you, revealing the insights you choose to see at any given time. A report is designed to display updates to this data at the intervals that make sense to your brand – live, twice a day, daily, weekly, or monthly.

We’ll share the various options and what they tell you in the full piece about Brand Analysis Reports. In short, you’ll have a custom road-map for your brand to work from as you set new goals, or course correct prior ones.

And it’s not only key for “right now,” but also for maintaining overall brand health. We’ll touch on that a bit more in the Crisis Management section that follows a bit below.

Though Social Media Reporting is super important for higher-ups, it’s not just about them. These dashboards affirm, to all working with social analytics, just how valuable they are. The results are visible daily, moment-by-moment, and when you track them over time you can plainly see what decisions have impacted them, and vice versa.

Social insight is crucial to have on hand when strategizing next steps with brand executives, as they can touch all facets of a business. Here’s how Brand Analysis Reporting lets you communicate these insights quickly and, most importantly – accurately.


Before you can create or revise business strategies, you must understand how your brand is performing now – with regard to both competitors and key brand business priorities.

A Brand Analysis Report – sometimes called a Brand Health Report – is a snapshot of these metrics, designed with busy executives in mind.

Here’s what it tracks:

Share of voice is a metric that doesn’t mean much unless viewed within the context of competing brands. Here’s a look at Starbucks against competitors Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Horton’s:

It’s clear that Starbucks is well ahead of these two competitors with regard to mentions and potential impressions – but Net Sentiment is pretty close between the three.

Sentiment and Passion Intensity are always required to understand what’s driving the conversations about your brand. Here’s a look at how Passion Intensity clarifies this insight:

Though Starbucks’ share of voice is clearly greater, it’s not all in the Like or Love camp. We’ll talk more about Competitor Analysis Reporting in a future post. For now, how can Starbucks win more consumer love while maintaining the same high volume of conversation?

These are the questions a Brand Analysis Report inspires – while delivering the data that puts you on the right path for answering them.

For example, brand attributes data. When we look at the specifics behind Starbucks’ conversation volume and sentiment attributes, we see that price is a big sticking point with consumers:

Price gets a lot of chatter and negative sentiment. The same is true of customer service. Quality, however, isn’t talked about as much – yet sentiment on that attribute is high. A reminder that social complaints get a lot more attention than praise.

It’s clear where Starbucks need to focus their efforts if they want more positive conversation about their brand. This is the benefit of Brand Analysis Reporting: It’s clear and concise. All that’s left is to decide how to solve the problem.


Part of what makes the information above most valuable is the use of themes. Understanding how consumers feel about specifics like Price, Quality and Service means your actions can be just as specific. Choose the themes that align with your current business goals, or look at everything to see what jumps out. And then you can slice and dice the data to the Nth degree, digging in to results to explore at a granular level, with unmatched sentiment accuracy. That’s powerful.

Or you can keep your search broad and discover adjacencies that impact your business.

And when you identify keywords you want to track – you can set an alert to be informed when they pop up in social conversations. These might be references to trends that potential consumers or competitors are talking about, or they could be harbingers of trouble on the horizon.

In both cases, you want to know when these topics are gaining steam. We’ll talk more in-depth about this in Crisis Management Reporting.

What matters is having the right puzzle pieces in place, so reporting is easy. So what are those puzzle pieces?


Well, getting the lay of the land relative to competitors, as above, is the first step.

After that, take the insights you’ve found and use them to segment your audience to find deeper insights based on shared interests, product attributes, operational categories, and customer behaviors, to name a few. There are so many ways to parse the data, it deserves a demo to appreciate the options.

Next, track these conversations over time to identify trends and patterns. Then measure against operational metrics to assess whether you need to adjust processes, budget, or content – both on social and beyond.

Once you’ve mapped out the KPIs that matter, reporting on them at any moment is a matter of pulling your data into the dashboard template of your choice – or even creating your own. That way, higher-ups can see exactly where your brand stands at any given moment, and advise accordingly.

This keeps your brand on track – a high-speed track, that moves as fast a social – while also proving the merit of social analytics data to those who hold the purse-strings.

Agencies like Spong and brands like Lloyds Bank use Brand Analysis Reporting to help clients shape business goals and keep risks at bay. You should do the same – otherwise, you’re just giving competitors an edge.

Influencer Analysis Reporting

Influencers are the social users that call greater attention to your brand online – so you want to be sure you can identify them. Additionally, you want to know what they’re talking about, where, and how – so you can follow their lead, and support their efforts on your behalf by putting out great content to share.

An Influencer Analysis Report provides everything you need to know, while also proving influencers’ worth over time. It’s something every brand needs to have at the ready when considering new influencer collaborations.

And it’s the best way to understand how social’s most powerful voices feel about your brand, your category, and anything else you want to explore. Because if they love something, their fans and followers are likely to love it too.

Most active influencers in the Music category

No matter how great your own content and approach to social media, nothing helps a brand more than a trusted influencer shouting out their merits.

There are a few different types of influencer reports you may use, depending on your needs at any given time. Let’s examine each in turn.


If you’re just getting started with influencers, an Influencer Identification Report is a good place to start with reporting. You can identify the top influencers for your brand or category, follow trends, and get familiar with category influencers and how they work (or could work) for your brand.

Below are some areas you might include in your dashboard. These items are relevant for influencers with 1,000 followers or more. It’s important to note that while you don’t need influencers with followers numbering the hundreds of thousands to be successful, those with at least 1,000 followers demonstrate solid effort in cultivating engaged interactions. You can read more about why this is important here, but for now, let’s get back to social media reporting!


Trending Content reveals the terms and hashtags trending among influencers – so you can assess which are in line with your brand, which are being engaged with most, and which are being shared by your influencers’ followers.

That way you know what type of content to create to achieve similar results, and you might even find additional influencers you weren’t aware of.

Another way to look at this data is by Experts and Content Influencers. This reveals who has the most followers among professions like Bloggers & Journalists, Executives & Professionals, Politics, Policy & Religion and Students & Academia.

If you have relevant audience segments, you can easily find appropriate influencers to work with.

Or assess influencers by cultural interests, like Fashion & Entertainment, Health, Sports & Outdoors, and Food & Travel. This tells you which areas are generating the most engagement in these specific areas. Use the ones relevant to your brand to inform which influencers you reach out to.


Looking beyond influencers as individuals, you can review Digital Influencers, i.e., blogs, forums and news sites with a visitor count over 50K+, that are generating content on your topic.

This identifies publications to consider for placing content or ads, or partnering with in some other way.

A report like this is useful for a brand like the International Peace Institute. Because the IPI has no marketing budget, influencers are crucial to spreading the word about their research and other endeavors.


To further understand how influencers and/or detractors are conversing – and the impact of these conversations on your brand, industry, and more – use the Influencer Monitoring Report.


Start with the How Influencers are Talking section for a summary of general metrics like Post Count, Sentiment, Impressions, Total Authors, Most Active Influencers by mention count, and General Conversation by top terms and hashtags.

For more info about conversation tone, use the “Conversation, Most Shared, and Trending Content” section. This clarifies original posts and replies among your influencers, as well as most reshared content, and top trending terms and hashtags used by influencers.

Look at Influencer Content to understand the posts and shared media resonating with their audience.


Influencer analytics on their own are informative, but it’s also important to view insights relative to your brand and industry, and that’s part of what’s great about the Influencer Monitoring Report. You see the content your influencers are sharing about your brand – and how it’s faring on social. HGTV’s Joanna Gaines is doing well for Target.

How do things look for the home design industry overall? That’s another section to include in your report dashboard so you can analyze the content shared by your influencers about your industry or issue.

Staying attuned to the broader conversation is smart for competitor analysis, and to ensure your influencers don’t inadvertently say anything that could be damaging to your brand by association.

It’s also helpful to understand your brand’s footprint relative to your influencers. You do this by looking at:

  • Mentions, Impressions and Authors for your brand
  • Peaks and valleys in sentiment and conversation volume
  • Top Attributes and Terms people use when speaking about your brand
  • Top Domains where conversations are happening
  • Follower/Visitor counts of those talking about your brand most (highest Mentions)

This is the type of report used by brands like iHeartRadio, which counts on influencers to drive voting for their artists during the iHeartRadio Awards, among other use cases.


Finally, once you’re up and running with influencers, you can use the Influencer Tracking and Performance Report to follow their performance across social media channels over time.

Here are some metrics to consider:

Use the Cross Channel Summary to review Followers, Brand Posts, Engagements per Post, and Shares per Post. These last two items are particularly important because they qualify influencer power.

An influencer with a lot of followers isn’t worth much if those followers aren’t engaging with what they share. These metrics let you know what you’re getting on that front.

Just as important is the sentiment connected to post count for a given domain. Not every social channel is equal to every brand. With social analytics you want to always follow the love. Tracking Total Channel Conversation lets you do that.

Here again, content is paramount. Look to Owned Media to see which content is performing best on owned channels. You want to weigh Net Sentiment, total engagement, and any spikes in sentiment to get a sense of things.

But don’t neglect Earned Media – which tells you what your influencers’ followers care about beyond those influencer posts. Look at organic terms, popular posts and media content across your earned media, and see what resonates with the audience of your influencers.

Agencies like Intermark Group use this type of reporting to understand influencer activity in the context of converged media analysis for their clients. This provides an in-depth view of how influencers are impacting brand strategies, and guides decision-makers to educated next steps.

Like all aspects of social analytics, the goal is to understand where you are and plot your continued course from there. It’s far more efficient – not to mention economical – than guessing. And that’s the approach you need to maintain your edge.

Crisis Management Reporting

When social audiences turn on you, they turn quickly. For this reason, you must know immediately when consumer sentiment is trending negative, or when certain keywords are mentioned alongside your brand.

You can create dashboards to monitor brand health, and then use that data to set alerts whenever social activity reaches a certain level. This is defined by you, as is how you receive such alerts.

This data will be shared in a Crisis Management Report – which shows you the level of conversation and intensity of sentiment, allowing you to respond as needed.

And compiling insights and sharing them with higher-ups is never more important than when a crisis is afoot.

Here’s how to use Crisis Management Reporting to avoid the worst of what social has to offer – or to minimize damage if the worst comes to pass.


The best of brands can find themselves in hot water – that’s the nature of social media, and the power of consumers en masse.

Therefore, it’s not a question of if you’ll experience a brand crisis – it’s a matter of when. So all brands should have a plan in place for dealing with a brand crisis. Even better, brands should be doing all they can to prevent one, and that’s where Crisis Management Reporting, and other social monitoring tactics, come into play.

If you don’t already have tools that alert you when certain social events occur, you need to get them. Here are three types of alerts NetBase provides:

Any Mention – These alerts track the “known unknowns,” i.e., brand issues you’re aware of and want to track based on analyses you’ve saved.

Any Metric – These alerts monitor for “surface deviations,” i.e., sudden changes in mentions, impressions, Net Sentiment, etc. over a given time period, based on the threshold you choose.

Triggered Alerts – These alerts tell you when “unexpected conversations” occur – such as a negative response to a television show that your brand sponsors.

With each type of alert, you can choose the parameters you want to track, how quickly you want to be alerted, and who exactly should be informed. That way you can make a timely decision about how to respond. For this reason, accuracy of analytics data is crucial.

Lloyds Banking Group, to name one example, uses such alerts regularly to stay on top of potential risks and monitor developing situations.

But even before you can set such alerts, you need a baseline of brand conversation, issues, and sentiment – otherwise you won’t know what’s normal, and what’s an anomaly indicative of trouble. That’s why regular social listening and social monitoring are important.

And it’s why Crisis/Issue Tracking and Reporting are a brand’s best friend.


Crisis/Issue Tracking answers several key questions, like how to:

  • Identify “normal” ranges of volume and sentiment to spot changes
  • Receive immediate notification during crisis events
  • Gauge size of issues relative to your brand and compared to previous issues
  • Identify virality and longevity of issues in progress
  • Determine the severity of new issues and whether to preempt, track or dismiss them

Issue Tracking also lets you understand customer conversation around brand issues, including emotions, behaviors, and underlying motivations so you can respond appropriately, on the right channels, with what customers want to hear.

Crisis Tracking was invaluable for the Georgia Aquarium when they had an unexpected animal death on site. By using Crisis Management Reporting, they knew exactly what social consumers needed to hear to understand what had happened and retain faith in the aquarium.

In such situations, it’s also helpful to identify influencers and known detractors, to help mitigate damage, determine whether an issue has been contained, measure the impact and effectiveness of responses, and whether additional action must be taken. This is also available with Crisis Tracking.

These insights can then be shared with stakeholders in real-time, as well as throughout your organization to develop a crisis management plan to have at the ready.


So what exactly do you communicate to stakeholders, then – and how? First, here’s a look at the Crisis Tracking process, starting with a review of the first three steps, detailed further above.

#1 – Plan

Use your social analytics to identify which issues you want to track – whether related to your brand, competitors, industry, or category. Decide on appropriate actions for crises in each area.

#2 – Benchmark

Identify what constitutes normal ranges for volume, sentiment, and other key metrics surrounding each issue you want to track.

#3 – Monitor and Track

Set alerts to know when important thresholds are exceeded.

Now you’re ready to take things further by creating a Crisis Tracking Report. These next two steps are part of that process:

#4 – Analyze and Respond

This step clarifies the magnitude of social issues. You may not even need to respond in some cases. In others, you may be on the brink of a full-blown crisis. This is the step that tells you what you’re dealing with.

Here are the metrics you want to understand:

  • How big is the overall conversation related to the issue?
  • How big is the issue-related conversation compared to previous issues?
  • What percentage is the issue-related conversation of the overall brand?

You also want to understand some specifics about your audience, like their characteristics, and whether you’re dealing with insiders or consumer conversation. Additionally, you want to know:

  • Who is talking?
  • Where they are talking?
  • How broad is the impact?
  • Who are the influencers and known detractors?
  • What content is being shared around the issue?

Finally, you want to understand how people are talking about the issue, and whether you need to change or improve your messaging:

#5 – Measure and Inform

This final step is where you measure the impact of your actions – using your Crisis Tracking Report for guidance – and evaluate the necessity of updating any alerts or responses to similar events in the future.

Your report then serves as the benchmark for any further tracking of that specific issue or issues.

And just as you have alerts sent automatically when certain events trigger them, you can have scheduled dashboard reports sent as well – for more general reporting over time, or to provide broader analysis for stakeholders.

These live reports are created from real-time data, and presented in a simple, visual, quickly digestible format crafted with busy executives in mind.

That way you never have to be caught off guard – but if you are, you’ll always know exactly what’s happening, and how to get back on track.

Competitive Analysis Reporting

Some social analytics are about answering specific questions, but when it comes to competitive analysis, the object is to analyze and explore – and learn from what you find. These insights are often unexpected, and that’s why a Competitive Analysis Report is so advantageous.

You can compare your brand to others, of course, but you can also compare categories, products, and audiences. Competitor information is invaluable to guiding brand strategy, which is why you need Competitive Analysis Reporting to keep stakeholders in the know as they chart the course for your brand.

Top coffee brands in a direct comparison

As the lines between categories and industries overlap and blur, competitors are everywhere. On top of that, add consumers who won’t settle for less than what they demand, and you’ve got a recipe for brand extinction if you aren’t fully aware of where you stand in the ranks.

Use competitor analysis reporting to stay alive and thriving.


Before we launch into the how, let’s talk about the why. What does competitive analysis reporting do for your brand? Besides the obvious – which is comparing you to competing brands – you can gain a host of other valuable insights, like:

  • Ideas to improve product packaging, features, pricing, etc.
  • Ideas for completely new products
  • Channels and messaging that’s best for reaching your shared target audience
  • Potential influencers to amplify messaging
  • Inspired campaign ideas

And more. Then you can use these competitive analysis insights in tandem with other data points – like last year’s revenue, campaign activities, survey data, and Net Promoter Score – for a comprehensive brand picture to inform ongoing strategy.

So that’s the why. But how do you collect these insights in an organized way that all who need them will understand? Through competitive analysis reporting.


An important distinction of competitive analysis – as opposed to other brand reporting – is the focus of your analysis. It’s about exploration and discovery, as opposed to answering specific questions.

Instead of narrowing your research to, say, one area in contrast to your competitors, let the insights speak for themselves. That’s how you unearth unexpected gems you can use.

This is the case whether you compare yourself brand for brand, or by categories, products, or audiences. You want to understand the overall conversation, sentiment drivers, and location – both geographically, and channel-wise, among other things.

Be sure you consider a wide range of competitors as you plan your analyses – from direct competitors to aspirational brands and potential future challengers. Think of how Etsy has become a force in online retail, alongside brands like Amazon and eBay – and how all three have overtaken Big Box stores in social rankings.

Look to depth of emotion to contextualize your social analytics. For example, if you were whisky brand Jack Daniel’s, it would make sense to compare yourself to top competitors like Johnnie Walker and Jim Beam:

If you weren’t including sentiment in your data, you might look at Posts and Potential Impressions and think you had the edge. However, you have to be sure Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity support that story. Here they do. But it’s not always the case.

And, of course, there’s more to consider.

For example, comparing Sources of Quick Serve coffee restaurants StarbucksDunkin’ Donuts, and Tim Hortons(left to right below), we see that Dunkin’ Donuts has a lot more online conversation happening through news outlets:

This is an indicator that their conversation is less consumer-based – something the other two brands could take advantage of, and something Dunkin’ should consider adjusting.


Once you’ve gone through the discovery phase, you can look for more specifics to inform your actions. For instance, using themes lets you understand exactly what consumers like about you and your competitors – or what they find lacking.

Look at Summary Metrics for things like Share of Conversation by Theme, Overall Sentiment by Theme, or Conversation Trend by Theme to learn more. Here’s Jack Daniel’s:

You can see there’s a lot of conversation and positive sentiment about their value. Though quality and innovation are highly positive, they aren’t mentioned quite as much. This tells you where the love is, and what you might need to focus on as you adjust your engagement strategy.

Taking things a step further, you can create a Brand Equity Scorecard to evaluate where you stand when mentioned in the same post as your competitors:

You can also see visual representation of your Brand Passion Index against competitors. Having a larger audience doesn’t necessarily matter if passion is neutral – a small, but passionate army of fans is more powerful than a larger, apathetic one. This view offers a clear look at your comparative status.

Brand Passion is your compass for every metric, by the way. Assessing competitors means looking at everything you can about them and their audience – including influencers and brand ambassadors, content, and everything discussed above – through that lens of consumer love.

Pulling these insights into a single dashboard lets decision-makers see at a glance where they need to course correct based on brand goals.

And there’s no wrong answer – you can create the report you want to see based on your objectives in the moment, or based on the business unit using the insights.

A brand like iHeartMedia might care most about their competitors’ influencers, while an agency like Moxie might be more concerned with winning based on killer content. No matter the task, competitive analysis reporting is an ongoing endeavor that will give back every time.

The most important thing is to use it – or accept your fate when competitors take the lead.

Want to learn how to create Social Media Reports for your brand? Reach out for a custom walk-through of our social analytics dashboards today!

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