When you’ve just started a new job, or you’ve been handed the reins on a social media account, you’re often not just in charge of creating content and managing the community, but also reporting.

But what does a social media report look like? And what metrics are actually important to measure?

Below, I’m going to highlight the key aspects that most social media reports have, and what you can learn from each measurement. From there, you can choose which aspects you want to measure for your business.

What are you measuring?

It’s easy in our information age to get caught up keeping track of data – even if we’re not using it.

We can get caught in a prison made of excel tables and we can spend more time exporting the data than drawing learnings we can use from it.

I’d recommend keeping track of just the data you need to make smart business decisions and leave the rest. You can always export the data again and deep dive into other elements later if you want more information.

To work out the data you need, I’d recommend pinpointing your business goals and why you’re using social media, so you put those metrics at the heart of your report.

A simple breakdown is:

    • If your goal is sending people to your website, whether that’s blog traffic or people purchasing content, you will want to track your ‘clickthroughs’.
    • If your goal is brand awareness and to make people aware of your brand, your goal might be ‘reach’ (ie. people who saw one of your posts)
    • If your goal is to build a strong community, your ‘engagements’ might be the metric you look at.

Of course, many businesses may use all of these metrics, but it’s important to know which one is most important for your business. One of these metrics will help keep the lights on in the office, so pick the one that is most important and put that front and centre in your reporting. It’s not uncommon that these metrics are not always correlated (for example, high reach doesn’t always equate to high clickthroughs) so knowing which one it’s key is essential.

Let’s dive in.

Social Channel Numbers

What is it?

How many followers or fans each of your social media accounts have.

How do you get it?

These should be measured on the same day of the week, or the same date each month, in order to effectively measure growth. For social channels that don’t have analytics, simply look at the follower numbers on your profile (you may need to click or hover if the number is rounded up).

If they do have analytics, you can export your data to find this.

Why is it important to measure?

Social channel numbers are an overall indication of health. If your numbers are growing, rather than stagnant or declining, it means the content you are posting is quality.

Because this metric is easy to find and easy to measure, this is often seen as the most important metric for many businesses. It is also known as a ‘vanity metric’ – because it looks good in a chart, but it doesn’t really tell you whether your social media accounts have helped achieve your business goals (for example, traffic, or engagement).

It is a good metric to measure health, but it’s not the most important metric for your business. The next few metrics, in my book, are more important.

Top Ten Posts

What it’s it?

This is a record of your posts that have been most successful over the past week or month. You might measure this based on reach or engagement, or keep a list of both, depending on what your current marketing goals are.

How do you get it?

Export your post data in the analytics section of the social network you are measuring.

You may wish to sort your data by engagements, clickthroughs or reach, depending on your business goals. Once you’ve ranked it using the magic of Excel, then pull out your Top 10 posts.

Related post: How to: Make A Report Without Facebook Page Analytics

Why is it important to measure?

This metric allows you to see what kinds of content have been most successful in reaching your business goals. Seeing what content is working is essential for your content planning so you create more content of a similar nature.

It’s also worth looking at the content that was least effective by the measure you’ve chosen because it can show you what is not working.

I’m a big fan of playing with this in different ways: your top 10 posts for the week, the top 20 for the week, the top by the month, the ones riiiight in the middle. Exploring what is and isn’t working and looking for common themes is what’s important here.

Social media engagement rates

What is it?

Social media engagement rates look at the percentage of people who interact with your post, compared to how many people see the post.

How do you get it?

Export your social media analytics and look at how many views a post has divided by the engagements such as likes.

For example, let’s say a Facebook post gets 1000 views and 30 reactions. The engagement rate is 3%.

Let’s go back to math class for a minute:
The formula is: (engagements / views) x 100 = engagement rate %
So the result is: (30 / 1000) x 100 = 3%

Benchmarks say that a strong engagement rate is:
2% on Facebook
3% on LinkedIn
1% on Twitter
6% on LinkedIn

Why is it important to measure?

It’s valuable for seeing how engaging your content is, or to see if your followers are an actively engaged audience. Instead of seeing how many people ‘saw’ your post, you can see who engaged with it, implying it’s more engaging content.

Instead of doing the maths on every post, some businesses might look at their overall follower count and look at the average engagement over the last 10 posts. But ideally, this works most effectively if you’re looking at the data of how many people saw each specific post.

You could also use this approach to review your competitors and see what their engagement rate is – it might be a sign that if they have a million followers and only a handful of likes that their audience is either bought, or robots. It’s useful for a realistic competitor audit.

Referral Traffic or conversions

What is it?

Find out how many people visited your site from social media or sales from social media, depending on your business objective.

How do you get it?

Use your Google Analytics or your website analytics tools to find out where people visited your website from, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or another social network. You may wish to look at this as specific traffic numbers, or as a percentage of all your traffic (ie. 2% of all traffic was from Facebook).

Pro tip: a lot of traffic from social media can be hidden under ‘direct’ traffic if it has come from an app and Google Analytics cannot track it. If you want really detailed site analytics, adding UTM tags to your URLs is your go-to tactic here.

Why is it important to measure?

If one of your key metrics is around traffic, this metric is especially important to keep in mind to assess which of your social channels are meeting your goals, and which ones you may need to optimise more to work a little harder.

Your learnings

In my template which you can download below, you will see that there is at the bottom of every metric you monitor are two words: key learnings.

There’s no point creating a report if we’re not going to analyse what the report means. Looking at what worked, what didn’t work, what we tested and what we learnt is the best way to create more successful social media channels. It’s also a useful tool to keep yourself accountable by setting goals for next month based on your tests.

Creating three topline learnings are also a really great way for busy Execs to absorb the report and understand what is truly happening on your social media channels.

Useful data every quarter….

Reports can be really time-consuming, so it’s important to pick the metrics which are most important. I’m a big believer in cutting down the time you spend reporting on vanity metrics, and use that saved time to think of ways to move the needle on the most important metrics for your business.

Based on this, there are a few additional reporting factors which can be useful to report on regularly, say, every quarter. These metrics don’t often change from week to week, but can be useful to review regularly in order to get a fresh perspective on your social channels.


What is it?

This is a breakdown of the demographics of the followers of your accounts

How do you get it?

Facebook has this information in your Page’s analytics section which is quite accurate. Other social platforms which have this information are indicative only, because if a user doesn’t enter their gender or birthday, it will not be able to give completely accurate data.

Why is it important to measure?

This metric probably doesn’t need to be looked at every week, but every quarter should be enough as the data doesn’t usually change on a week-to-week basis.

This is useful to get an understanding of who is on your page, so you can create content which more closely targets their needs.

Alternatively, you might find your demographic breakdown isn’t the audience you want to focus on, so you may need change the types of content you’re posting to attract an alternative audience.


What is it?

Find out which influencers are following you or talking about you.

How do you get it?

Using a third-party tool like socialrank.com you can sort your Twitter followers based on those who have large followings.

Why is it important to measure?

This metric is probably an interesting exercise to do quarterly in terms of seeing if your brand has any big names following it.

You might find you have a celebrity, famous Instagrammer or YouTuber following you who might open the doorways to potential partnerships in the future. Or, you might find you’ve got a super-fan of your brand who would be ideal for a surprise-and-delight campaign.

External measures

Outside of your own social media efforts, some businesses also find it valuable to measure the conversations which happen external to their owned channels, by measuring information like Share Of Voice and Sentiment.

For many small businesses, this will not be a useful metric, but it can be useful for those managing the social media for larger corporations.

Share Of Voice

What is it?

Depending on your business, this is either measuring:

a) the number of posts your company made on each social network (ie Facebook, Twitter etc)

b) the number of times the general public discuss your company online, broken into each social network.

How do you get it?

If you are measuring the volume of your own posts, simply export your data for the week or month and see how many posts you made.

If you are wanting to measure how many times your brand was mentioned online, you may need to invest in a social media listening tool to do this.

If you’ve got a small business, Google Alerts may suit your needs, or setting up a Google Doc sweeping the web for brand mentions using a tool like Zapier of IFTTT.

Why is it important to measure?

Share Of Voice can be a useful metric in terms of understanding how much time and effort is being put into channels. If you spend hours creating 10 posts a day on Facebook, but one Instagram posts is more successful than any of your Facebook posts, it can be useful to consider how you’re spending your time.


What is it?

Measuring if people discuss your business with a positive, negative or neutral tone.

How do you get it?

Like Share Of Voice, you will need an export of all of the discussions online in order to measure this, so it’s likely you will need a social media listening tool to do this effectively.

While machines are getting better and better at understanding sentiment, local slang and vernacular will always stump machines. For example, “that’s totally mad!” could be interpreted by a machine as a negative emotion, when obviously, it’s just the authour being excited about trapped in the ’90s.

The only way to truly measure sentiment is to get a copy of online conversations about your brand, and manually rank a good sample size of the associated sentiment in something like Excel.

Why is it important to measure?

If you are measuring the sentiment and the topic associated with it, it is a really clear way to see if a product or service has been received positively or negatively by your customers.

This can be a useful tool to understand what parts of your business customers love or dislike based on social conversations.

This approach is best used by companies with a large volume of conversation about them per day in order to gain meaningful insights from a statistical perspective.

Learn to love the spreadsheet

Social media reporting can be a long process. If you’re not a numbers person it can be pretty exhausting.

However, data can tell brilliant stories about the success of your social media channels and give you really strong insights into your audience’s desires, so for this reason, it’s really important to learn to love reporting. The clarity you gain from reporting means you will create better social media channels.

The key data you should keep in mind on a regular weekly or monthly basis is:

    • Social Channel Numbers
    • Top and Bottom Posts (based on the metric that is most important for your business, whether it’s reach, engagement or clickthroughs)
    • Traffic referrals or site conversions.

The data which is useful to keep track of quarterly is:

    • Influencers
    • Demographics

For big businesses, they might also wish to track:

    • Share of Voice
    • Sentiment

In the end, what is most important with your data is drawing out insights and learnings. Being game to review your analytics and question what is and isn’t working means you’re on the right track to creating a much more successful social media account.

And, if you’re looking for a glam powerpoint version of a monthly report, check out the template in my online shop.

Written Aug 2016, updated November 2022.

Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.