Are you sleepwalking through the report? Hopefully, it was created to track important metrics like volume, sentiment, key trends and issues around your brand. These variables can be key to informing your company’s engagement strategies, but only if data insights are packaged in a way that empowers your team to act quickly and make effective, well-informed decisions. In other words, only if the report provides insights that will truly be acted upon.

Performance management systems are essential indicators of what needs to be accomplished tomorrow in order to successfully meet your company’s goals. However, these systems are only effective if your company fosters a culture of proactive data management. Far too many companies simply treat these reports as a look back on what happened, as opposed to a key indicator of what should be done going forward.

Thankfully, the beauty of social media is that it is incredibly easy to measure key variables in real-time. We can know immediately whether or not we need to implement changes more rapidly, what days are best for posting content, what content is most desirable, etc.

Sample Dashboard

Historically, communicators have grown up with media monitoring reports that only have the ability to look backward. However, for companies to be successful in a new digital age, there must be a cultural shift within their organization to put more emphasis on using the report as a “radar” to direct future actions.

So, the next time you read through your social media dashboard ask yourself and your team, what are we going to do differently tomorrow as a result of what we are seeing in today’s performance metrics?

Here are some ways you can ensure the proactive use of these key metrics:

1. Demand a cultural shift.

Insist that your team actively review the data and make real-time decisions on future communications activities based on key performance indicators.

2. Design your performance map alongside your company’s senior leadership.

Make sure you are measuring the things that are important to the business. The best way to achieve this is to set up the KPIs in consultation with the most senior leaders of the business.

3. Include only what is absolutely essential to the goal.

Identifying a scalable goal is a prerequisite to creating a performance management system in the form of a dashboard. It is important not to bog down your report with data unrelated to the goals you are trying to achieve. (People often have the misperception that more data will mean more solutions. However, this practice will only confuse recipients of your media monitoring report.) Make sure to tell your team members only what they need to know.

4. Present the data using a familiar interface.

In order for your team members to easily understand the data, it must be housed in an accessible format. Delivering the report in a spreadsheet, PowerPoint or a more familiar, internal format will most effectively communicate the insights to be gleamed. We’ve found that real-time online portals are often the best solutions, but only if your team makes a commitment to accessing them regularly.

5. Don’t skimp on design.

Customizing the design of your report will help it stand out. This means using effective, eye-catching colors; simple, but engaging charts; and strong, concise language to illustrate key takeaways. However, stay away from overdesigning the report; too many illustrations will dilute the message and prevent your team from taking meaningful action. It is often an effective strategy to tailor the presentation of the analysis to the audience viewing the report. If you know that key decision makers, like your company’s CIO or CFO prefer table charts to pie charts, these accommodations can be easily made and will help foster an appreciation for the reports at the highest level.

Putting these tips into practice will help you stay wide-awake the next time you come across your media monitoring report.