Why Reporting Is Crucial To Your Company’s Social Efforts

In my years of generating content, building communities and corporate storytelling, I’ve worked with companies large and small on various projects, campaigns and initiatives.

One common trait I’ve seen repeated over and over again is a lack of reporting and constructive learnings shared within organizations.

I’m writing this post in hopes to start a dialogue with you, Mr. or Ms. Digital Marketer, so we can all start or improve our reporting processes together.

Let’s talk about the importance of proper planning and reporting, shall we?

Properly plan and set targets early on

Properly planA social project or campaign starts (or should!) in alignment with a business goal or company’s overall needs.

Then, the digital marketers are called in to craft a campaign accordingly. This is where reporting starts! Be sure that even at the projects’ inception, your efforts closely align to the business goals. Start by setting two primary goals and actionable tactics that will be indicators of success to those goals.

For example, if the goal is to “grow our Twitter following”, set a target early on that’s achievable, measurable and realistic.

Is a 20% growth in following satisfactory or is 50% more in line with the stakeholder’s expectations?

The benefits of reporting and surfacing conclusion collectively

In most cases, not carrying out proper reporting and post mortem activities isn’t malicious. It’s because marketing departments are busy and when one project closes, we begin executing on the next project.

However, I feel a project isn’t truly complete until reporting and lessons learned have been discussed. Reporting should *never* be an afterthought, it should be part of a project’s flow and timeline.

Build transparency and trust

When you build a report that is highlights successes, surfaces failures and explains the reasons why you’ll do it differently next time, you build trust through the exercise of being transparent.

Reports are fantastic avenues for telling stakeholders about a project’s success, what worked and why it worked. These wins should be mentioned in an executive summary and highlighted in detail throughout a report.

Building transparency

But here’s a challenge: treat a failure of “need to improve upon” factor with the same rigor. Highlight a “lesson learned” by explaining the factors of why a goal wasn’t met and then reflect on how you’ll change your approach for success next time.

Trust me, your stockholders, managers and directors will appreciate the honesty.

Proper reporting helps repeat mistakes

This likely goes without saying, but proper reporting and distributing these reports will help your project team or campaign staff from making repeat mistakes. It’s fine to have a slip-up or to miss a target. Make the mistake a success by openly discussing it and learning from the mistake!

The only crime is repeating the mistake or withholding information. 🙂

Reporting helps surface and share successes unseen before

Worried that sharing failures and lessons learned might be a negative thing? Here’s a secret: the opposite might come true! By building and sharing reports (even in draft) you’ll discover wins and successes in the project that weren’t even on your radar before.

While you were busy carrying our your portion of the project and taking tabs on the occurrences from your perspective, other project members, perhaps in another department likely exceeded their target or made a slamdunk, figuratively. 🙂

When reporting, poll all participants and share your draft reports to gather intel form all sides.

Data feeds reports, reports feed conclusions, conclusions predict the future

The best campaign reports are composed of data that paint a story that management can use to draw conclusions. When these conclusions are applied to future efforts, a magical thing happens! They allow a department, project team or leader to predict what will work well next time.

So, ensure that a next time will happen by building amazing reports.

To be sure your reports are amazing, you need the proper tool. Sysomos MAP and Sysomos Heartbeat enables practitioners and decision makers to have the proper data and context into that data to make decisions.

Request a demo today!

(Photo credit: Flickr user Stella12 and Flickr user renemensen)

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