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  4. Overview of Research Methods
  5. Social media research
  6. Reporting

Social media research

Key aspects when writing and reading the results

The process of reporting the results of social media data should serve three functions:

  • Communicate useful information to an identifiable audience for a specific purpose.
  • Develop a logical description of the research.
  • Provide a historical record of findings.


The framework of the report should be composed of the key questions that were asked or the big themes that have emerged from the analysis. These should serve as an outline for organizing the social media data. The most clear and significant results should be described first. Areas of less agreement and importance should come next. Trivial or irrelevant findings should be placed in an appendix.



What should be in the report?

  • A summary of the research, describing why a social media research was conducted, its focus and listing the major conclusion and recommendations.
  • A description of the research procedure, including the criteria (i.e., geographical location, time frame, keywords, and channels) and the social media tools used to collect and analyse data.
  • A description of the results, identifying the key themes raised by social media analysis and providing examples of users’ messages if content analysis was performed. Importance or consistency of the findings should determine the order in which information is presented. A possible interpretation of the data should always be provided. Statistical analysis comparing different users, countries or time frames should be clearly justified.
  • Possible limitations and alternative explanations.
  • The transcription of all social media data (if requested).



What should NOT be in the report?

  • Complex quantitative data and analysis, without clear justification.
  • Generalization of the results to the larger population.
  • Assertions of cause-effect.
  • Users’ identification.