An agency I’m discussing a social media / blogging project with, asked me if I will be providing them with detailed reports of the numbers generated by the project being discussed.

While I would love to share the reports with my client who is paying me to blog and share on social media, I still have not found any tools that allow me to do this economically and accurately.

What is a “detailed” report anyway?

I can show you blog story numbers because it is a self-hosted blog and Google Analytics is rather great with specific numbers. ( Yes, self-hosted domains and blogs have numerous advantages. )

I can also tell you how many times I tweeted about the blog story, how many times I updated my Facebook Business Page, how many times I shared the story on my Instagram and how many Pins I made on Pinterest.

But when it comes to measuring how many times my shares were re-shared, what their “Reach” was and how many people responded, it requires me to spend time collating that data manually ( and there is an additional cost component for this in my contract ). I have tried tools available for doing these tasks but I have found that all of them do not provide all the data, access to timelines is restricted by the social media platform’s API, or in some cases, the data is plain wrong. Also most tools are best used if there’s a hashtag being tracked from before the hashtag is actually used.

Most agencies don’t even include a hashtag in the project scope, which is unfortunate. Hashtags help with tracking and branding.

Also, shouldn’t an agency already be equipped with tools to measure social media numbers from the various projects they work on for various clients with various “influencers”?

If I have to do everything from conceptualizing the story based on a brand brief that I extract from the client, creating unique content by way of copy and photographs, and providing measurement numbers after executing the story, what is the role of the agency anyway except middleman obstacle-creator?

One reason I prefer working directly with client brands.

In one instance, the client’s agency had taken credit for all the activity I had generated for the client, which was about 90% of the total. Their report was simply a list of number of Tweets, number of Re-Tweets, Mentions, Impressions and Users with no context of what the agency did. My agreement with the client was separate from the agency but the same hashtag was being used by both parties, which meant separate measurement was impossible unless someone did it manually. The client asked me for a detailed report and was not inclined to pay for the tools that would provide this data to me, especially when this requirement had not been conveyed previously or in the contract.

In another instance, the client had asked for pageviews for the blog story I did for them. They were very surprised at the numbers and said that almost every other blogger who had responded with numbers had generated at least THREE times more pageviews than my blog story had. Considering all the other bloggers were new kids with new blogs and very low ranks on Alexa, I simply grinned and the client was perplexed. ( Disclaimer : I’ve been told that Alexa is NOT a reliable medium but when nothing else is available and you’re looking at data in real time at the same time for all blogs, it does give context. )

Best if the agency does the tracking so that there is no room for “magic numbers”.