Depending on what industries you are working with, planning and structuring a new report can be stressful.
A brief walkthrough of the typical process would be meeting with the client, understanding their needs, brainstorming ideas together, structuring and executing research, pulling data together, making sense of the data, writing and editing, formatting, designing, presenting data findings and making recommendations.
Don’t let the whole process get the best of you.
Follow the 8 different tips below to make sure your are on the right track to creating effective social media research reports!
When you begin your research:
- Know your objective. What is the meaning of this report? State this before you begin your research and make sure to deliver on the statement before you even begin writing. TIP: Think of your statement as a strong problem statement. If you cannot answer the problem statement by the end of your research, don’t even think about building the report yet.
- Plan steps to solve your problem statement. Think of this piece as a hypothesis (or it can be multiple hypotheses! Whatever it takes to give the problem statement a thorough answer). Make proposed statements and prove through research whether those statements are true or untrue.
- Give a different perspective. This is an added bonus step but definitely gives you brownie points if you can achieve this. Other than measuring what the general consensus feels on a particular subject, how do other particular audiences feel in comparison? For example, the general population shows 53% positive sentiment towards Burger King’s new chicken fries. However, Millennials specifically talk about Burger King’s new chicken fries 12% more positively (65% positive sentiment) than the general population. Another way to introduce a difference perspective is to compare brands and products from different categories, say comparing Dr. Pepper to lattes, or meditation to medication.
When building the actual report:
- Know your audience. Who is going to see this report? Will your audience be familiar with industry jargon and terms? If not, you'll want to change up your vocabulary and adapt your writing to your audience.
- Give them a brief "what you can expect" from this report. Hitting your readers with the highlights first will get them intrigued on why they should even listen in the first place and what can they expect from the whole report.
- Touch base on how your findings can help their initiatives. When you are pulling data together for a report, you want each piece of the report to mean something to your client. What is the opportunity in each finding?
- Incorporate outside data sources. This can be anything from sales data, statistics, scholarly articles to even in-house research findings. The outside data that you use should always help you convey your social findings even better. Adding outside data for the sake of having more data is not a route an analyst should pursue. Exactly like the point before, each piece of the report is supposed to mean something, this includes outside data too. TIP: Google trends Is an awesome resource to use when correlating your own social media trend analysis.
- Include a methodology section. Adding a brief section on what queries were used will give them a sense of transparency in the work you are providing to them. Listing the main queries you used isn’t a necessity to many clients, but it is something nice for clients to have and reference back to when they wish to revisit the research.
One thing that should always be top of mind when creating a report is,
Why should anyone care about what you have to say?
Reporting for the sake of reporting seems to be a common notion with a lot of reports and it really shouldn't be. What are you trying to solve for? There should always be a sense of value when it comes to delivering each piece of the report and if you choose to provide data with no opportunity, clients will notice and question the investments of such reports.