Qualitative vs Quantitative Social Media Reporting

Qualitative vs Quantitative

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

When it comes to reporting on your social media efforts there’s many f ways that it can actually be done. Every company is going to have their own style and every manager or boss is going to have their own way that they like to see reports.

No matter what format your company, boss or client likes, it always comes down to two big questions when it’s time to do the reporting; Do I take the quantitative or the qualitative route?

The truth is, each side has it’s own merits.

Quantitative Reporting

Just-the-Facts-Maam

Quantitative reporting means presenting hard numbers as your measurements. Think of “quantity.” Quantitative measurements are things that are real measurements, These are going to be all of the things that you can actually count and show cold hard facts towards. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post this month, your goals in social media should have something measurable tied to them that helps you know that you’re working towards your brand’s goals.

Managers like to see quantitative reporting because these types of reports have the actual numbers that show how you’re advancing towards your goals or anomalies that can then be analyzed to determine why numbers move in a certain way.

Some exmaples of things that can be measured quantitatively in social media include:

Increases (or decreases) in fans/followers

Sysomos MAP - Change In Followers Over Time

Number of mentions your brand gets

Sysomos Heartbeat - Mentions Count

Number of clicks you get when sharing links

Bit.ly Shows Number Of Clicks To A Custom URL

And share of voice between you and your competitors

Sysomos Heartbeat - Share of Voice

Of course, these are just a few types of quantitative measurements that can be taken. One of the nice things about social media is that because it happens online, most things can be tracked and measured in a quantitative form.

 

Qualitative Reporting

But-why-meme1

If the key to quantitative reporting is to think of “quantity,” then qualitative reporting should make you think of “quality.” Qualitative reporting has less to do with hard numbers and more to do with the underlying meaning and interpretations behind those numbers. These are going to be the things that add meaning and value to your hard numbers.

So, for example, quantitative reporting might tell you how many times your brand has been mentioned in social media, but qualitative reporting will look at “why” your company was getting those mentions. What were people saying? Were you being mentioned for good or bad reasons? Were mentions consistant with your brand’s message? And so on.

Qualitative reporting is great because it helps to tell the story behind what’s actually happening in social media.

Some examples of things that can be looked at qualitatively in social media include:

What drove the conversation (using text analytics)

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph (Text Analytics)

What was most popular (looking at things like the most retweeted tweets)

Sysomos MAP - Most Retweeted Tweets

What was the sentiment around our brand (even though sentiment can have a number associated with it, it’s still more of a qualitative measurement)

Sysomos Heartbeat - Overall Sentiment

 

So, what’s best?

Now that we’ve given a breakdown of the differences are between quantitative and qualitative measurements, you need to decide what is the best way to put them into your social media reports.

My best suggestion would be to do what I do when I create reports and use a mix of both. Show the numbers that matter towards your goals with qualitative measurements, but then dig deeper with a qualitative analysis as to why those numbers were showing as they did. What drove them? What was the underlying meaning of all those numbers? What’s the story behind the numbers?

An example of this mixing method could be with customer satisfaction: It’s easy to count how many times you replied to a customer service request via social media. But how can you gauge the satisfaction of that customers interaction, since having them leave the interaction feeling positive about it is likely your goal if you’re doing customer service? The feeling of satisfaction doesn’t have any real numbers associated with it, but if you look deeper into those interactions (by using some of the methods we gave examples of above like text analytics and sentiment analysis) you can make a judgement call on if the customer left the interaction feeling satisfied. That way you can say, “We had 17 customer support issues last week and we were able to solve 15 of them (quantitative hard numbers) and the customer satisfaction rate for those solved issues was 85% satisfied (a qualitative number derived from looking at those interactions).”

Or, for a real world example, last week we announced that we have acquired Expion. For my reporting of that event I gave our team hard numbers of how many times Sysomos and Expion were mentioned together in social media, but then I dove into the text analytics around all of those mentions we received to show our team not just that people were talking about it, but what they were actually saying. We found words like (to toot our own horn a little bit) “unrivalled,” “undisputed” and “combined force” with a great positive sentiment rating, so I was able to tell our team not only did we get a lot buzz about the announcement, but that it was also received very positively.

By combining both quantitative and qualitative into your social media reports you will wind up with a finished product that pleases everyone and helps them to understand what’s happening in your brand’s social media world. You will have numbers that show your boss or client the hard numbers that are moving them towards goals, but you’ll also have a way to explain why things are happening and why those numbers are moving. The benefit of combining both is that you can also create a narrative in your reports, which makes them easier for everyone to understand whether their a numbers person or not.
Do you want to measure both quantitatively and qualitatively at the same time? Request a demo of our Sysomos software and we’ll show you how we can help.

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