How to Create a Data-Driven Monthly Social Media Report to Prove ROI

As a social media marketer, you know the importance of regularly reporting on your efforts to prove the value of your work. But far too often, social media reporting falls into the trap of simply listing off vanity metrics like follower counts and likes.

To really understand and demonstrate the business impact of social media, you need to go beyond the surface-level stats and uncover the true return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns. In this guide, we‘ll show you exactly how to create a comprehensive, data-driven monthly social media report that highlights the metrics that matter and proves real value to your organization.

Why Monthly Social Media Reporting Matters

First, let‘s look at some eye-opening data that shows why consistent social media reporting is so critical:

  • CMOs say measuring ROI is their #1 challenge with social media marketing (33%) (Source: Sprout Social)
  • Only 20.3% of marketers say they are able to measure the ROI of their social media efforts (Source: Adobe)
  • 70% of executives say they would increase social media spending if they could better tie social media to business outcomes (Source: Simply Measured)

As you can see, the ability to quantify and report on social media results is a major pain point and priority for marketing leaders. Regular reporting builds trust and accountability, justifies budget and resources, and allows you to optimize performance based on data.

And while annual or quarterly reports have their place, monthly reporting offers several distinct advantages:

  • Keeps campaigns and tactics fresh in stakeholders‘ minds
  • Allows you to identify trends and shifts in near real-time
  • Maintains momentum and motivation for your social team
  • Enables faster pivots and optimizations based on what‘s working

Setting the Right Goals and KPIs

Of course, to create a meaningful social media report, you first need to ensure you‘re tracking towards the right goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). While the exact mix will vary based on your unique business objectives, an effective social media report should include a combination of:

  1. Reach and Impressions
  2. Engagement Metrics
  3. Website Traffic
  4. Lead Generation
  5. Conversions and Sales Revenue
  6. Brand Awareness and Sentiment

When setting your monthly goals for each metric, be sure to use the SMART framework – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

For example, rather than a vague goal like "increase Instagram followers," try "gain 1,000 new Instagram followers in March by posting 3x per day and running two contests." This sets a clear target to aim for within a set timeframe.

Calculating Social Media ROI

Perhaps the most important element of your social media report is the ROI calculation. This is where you tie your social efforts directly to monetary business outcomes.

According to the Digital Marketing Institute, the formula for calculating ROI is:

(Earnings – Costs) x 100 / Costs

Your earnings or returns are the revenue generated as a result of your social media investments, while your costs include things like ad spend, content creation, community management, and social media tools.

Here‘s a hypothetical example:

Let‘s say in a given month your social media efforts generated the following:

  • 500 new email newsletter sign-ups, with an assigned value of $5 per subscriber
  • 50 sales of a $100 product, of which 20 can be directly attributed to social media

Your total earnings would be (500 x $5) + (20 x $100) = $4500

If during this same period your social media expenses included:

  • $1000 in social media ads
  • 20 hours of content creation at $50/hour = $1000
  • Social media management tool subscription of $200/month
  • 5 hours engaging with the community at $30/hour = $150

Then your total costs would be $1000 + $1000 + $200 + $150 = $2350

To calculate ROI: ($4500 – $2350) x 100 / $2350 = 91.49%

So in this example, your social media efforts returned 91.49% of your investment, or $1.91 for every $1 spent. This simple calculation demonstrates in no uncertain terms that social media marketing is generating positive returns.

Attributing Revenue to Social Media

One of the most challenging aspects of social media ROI is determining what portion of your overall revenue was actually influenced by social media. This is where clear attribution and tracking comes into play.

Some effective methods for attributing revenue to social include:

  • Using unique tracking links (UTM codes) for each social media campaign and post
  • Setting up goals and conversion tracking in Google Analytics
  • Using advanced attribution models to assign weighted values along the customer journey
  • Providing unique coupon codes for each social channel and promotion

The key is being able to connect the dots between a social interaction and the desired action, whether an immediate sale or an assisted conversion down the line. Tools like Google Analytics, Kissmetrics and Simply Measured can help automate this process.

Benchmarking Performance

To provide context for your monthly social media metrics, it‘s important to benchmark your performance against past months, your industry averages, and competitors. This helps highlight your progress and identify areas for improvement.

For example, say your average Instagram engagement rate for the month was 5%. That might sound impressive, but if the industry average is 10% and your top competitor is getting 15%, suddenly you have more work to do.

Here‘s a quick comparison of average engagement rates and ROI by social network, based on data from Rival IQ:

Social Network Avg. Engagement Rate Avg. ROI
Instagram 1.60% $6.50
Facebook 0.09% $1.80
Twitter 0.048% $2.00
LinkedIn 0.054% $3.00

Keep in mind these are just general benchmarks – your specific industry and audience size will have a big impact. Tools like Sprout Social and quintly offer in-depth benchmarking and competitor tracking features.

Optimizing Your Reporting

Now that we‘ve covered what to include, let‘s look at some tips and best practices for crafting your monthly social media reports:

  1. Keep it concise and scannable. Avoid long paragraphs and huge data dumps. Use short insights, bullet points, and plenty of visuals.

  2. Tell a story with your data. Don‘t just list off numbers – provide context and commentary that explains the why behind the what.

  3. Focus on month-over-month and year-over-year growth. Show how your core metrics are trending over time.

  4. Emphasize business outcomes. Vanity metrics like follower counts are fine, but make revenue, leads and conversions the stars of the show.

  5. Include actionable insights and next steps. Your report should inform future strategies and optimizations, not just recap the past.

  6. Customize for your audience. Executives will care about different metrics than your social media team. Tailor your report accordingly.

A few other handy tools and resources for upping your reporting game:

  • Canva or Venngage for creating visual infographics and charts
  • Google Data Studio for building custom interactive dashboards
  • HubSpot and Sprout Social for automated social media reporting

Real-World Examples

Let‘s wrap up with a couple real examples of brands excelling at social media reporting and proving ROI.

Outdoor retailer Pura Vida Bracelets generated $2.1 million in revenue from social media in a single quarter. Using Simply Measured, they tied each social post and campaign to ecommerce sales and found that Facebook had the highest conversion rate.

Fast-food chain Wendy‘s famous #NuggsForCarter campaign earned 2.6 billion social media impressions and increased nugget sales by 3x. While harder to directly attribute, their social team was able to make a strong case for the impact on overall sales.

Video platform Wistia increased their web traffic from social by 844% in one year. They used custom UTM codes to track all their social posts and discovered that LinkedIn was their top revenue-driving network.

These examples show that with the right tracking and reporting in place, any brand can demonstrate the tangible business value of social media.

Conclusion

We covered a lot of ground in this guide, so let‘s recap the key takeaways for creating an effective monthly social media report:

  • Set clear, measurable goals that tie to business objectives
  • Track a balanced mix of reach, engagement, traffic, leads and revenue
  • Calculate ROI by subtracting costs from earnings
  • Properly attribute on-site and off-site conversions to social interactions
  • Benchmark your performance against past results and competitors
  • Keep reports concise, visual and focused on actionable insights

By following this formula, you‘ll be able to create data-driven reports that clearly prove the value of your social media efforts and secure continued investment from key stakeholders. No more fluffy vanity metrics – it‘s time to get serious about social media ROI.