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How to write a social media case study (with template)

You’ve got a good number of social media clients under your belt and you feel fairly confident in your own service or product content marketing strategy. To new clients, you’ll tell them how you’ve tripled someone else’s engagement rates but how do they know this is true? Enter the case study.

Social media case studies are often used as part of a sales funnel: the potential client sees themselves in the case study and signs up because they want the same or better results. At Sprout, we use this strategy with our own case studies highlighting our customer’s successes.

Writing and publishing case studies is time intensive but straight forward. This guide will walk through how to create a social media case study for your business and highlight some examples.

What is a social media case study?

A case study is basically a long testimonial or review. It commonly highlights a social media service, product or strategy from your company by sharing how a client used it in specific situation. Some case studies are written just to examine how a problem was solved or performance was improved from a general perspective. For this guide, we’ll be examining case studies that are focused on highlighting a company’s own products and services.

Case studies come in all content formats: long-form article, downloadable PDF, video and infographic. A single case study can be recycled into different formats as long as the information is still relevant.

At their core, case studies serve to inform a current or potential customer about a real-life scenario where your service or product was applied. There’s often a set date range for the campaign and accompanying, real-life statistics. The idea is to help the reader get a clearer understanding of how to use your product and why it could help.

Broad selling points like “our service will cut down your response time” are nice but a sentence like “After three months of using the software for responses, the company decreased their response time by 52%” works even better. It’s no longer a dream that you’ll help them decrease the response time because you already have with another company.

So now that you understand what a case study is, let’s get started on the how part of putting it together.

How to write a social marketing case study

Writing an effective case study is all about the prep work. You’ve got to get all of the questions and set up ready so you avoid lots of back and forth between you and the client.

1. Prepare your questions

Depending on how the case study will be presented and how familiar you are with the client to be featured, you may want to send some preliminary questions before the interview. It’s important to not only get permission from the company to use the quotes and graphs but also to make sure they know they’ll be going into a public case study.

The preliminary questions should cover background information about the company and ask about campaigns they are interested in discussing. Be sure to also identify which of your products and services they used. You can go into the details in the interview.

Once you receive the preliminary answers back, it’s time to prepare your questions for the interview. This is where you’ll get more information about how they used your products and how they contributed to the campaign’s success.

2. Interview

When you conduct your interview, think ahead on how you want it to be done. Whether it’s a phone call, video meeting or in-person meeting, you want to make sure it’s recorded. This ensures that your quotes are accurate and you can play it back in case you miss any information. Tip: test out your recording device and process before the interview. You don’t want to go through the interview only to find out the recording didn’t save.

Ask open-ended questions to invite good quotes. You may need to use follow-up questions if the answers are too vague. Here are some examples.

  • Explain how you use (your product or service) in general and for the campaign. Please name specific features.
  • Describe how the feature helped your campaign achieve success.
  • What were the campaign outcomes?
  • What did you learn from the campaign?

Since we’re focused on creating a social media case study in this case, you can dive more deeply into social strategies and tactics too:

  • Tell me about your approach to social media. How has it changed over time, if at all? What role does it play for the organization? How do you use it? What are you hoping to achieve?
  • Are there specific social channels you prioritize? If so, why?
  • How do you make sure your social efforts are reaching the right audience?
  • What specific challenges do organizations like yours face when it comes to social?
  • How do you measure the ROI of using social? Are there certain outcomes that prove the value of social for your organization? What metrics are you using to determine how effective social is for you?

As the conversation continues, you can ask more leading questions if you need to to make sure you get quotes that tie these strategic insights directly back to the services, products or strategies your company has delivered to the client to help them achieve success. Here are just a couple of examples.

  • Are there specific features that stick out to you as particularly helpful or especially beneficial for you and your objectives?
  • How are you using (product/service) to support your social strategy? What’s a typical day like for your team using it?
lake metropark quote
The above quote was inserted into the Sprout Lake Metroparks case study. It’s an example of identifying a quote from an interview that helps make the impact of the product tangible in a client’s day to day.

At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the company and request relevant assets.

3. Request assets and graphics

This is another important prep step because you want to make sure you get everything you need out of one request and avoid back and forth that takes up both you and your customer’s time. Be very clear on what you need and the file formats you need them in.

Some common assets include:

  • Logo in .png format
  • Logo guidelines so you know how to use them correctly
  • Links to social media posts that were used during the campaign
  • Headshots of people you interviewed
  • Social media analytics reports. Make sure you name them if you’re using a tool like Sprout so people know which one to export.

social media contests - instagram business reportFor graphics, Sprout’s reports make it easy to pull presentation-ready graphs to insert into the case study. All the client needs to do is export the relevant report and send it over to you to crop.Keele University report
In the Keele University case study by Sprout, we examined how the university built their brand with Sprout. It includes examples of social media posts and the above graph to examine their year-over-year growth of 10.1% in audience across their group.

4. Write the copy

Now that the information has been collected, it’s time to dissect it all and assemble it. At the end of this guide, we have an example outline template for you to follow. When writing a case study, you want to write to the audience that you’re trying to attract. In this case, it’ll be a potential customer that’s similar to the one you’re highlighting.

Use a mix of sentences and bullet points to attract different kinds of readers. The tone should be uplifting because you’re highlighting a success story. When identifying quotes to use, remove any fillers (“um”) and cut out unnecessary info.

Your copy should read somewhat like an adventure story: introduce the character, conflict emerges, a solution appears and the hero conquers the problem. Keep this story arc in mind while you’re assembling your copy.
pinterest case study
Pinterest’s business advertising case study of Estee Lauder clearly breaks down each section in a presentable way. Their headers are to the point so you can scroll to them. The body for each section includes short paragraphs and digestible sentences.

5. Pay attention to formatting

Case studies can be long so you want to make sure you keep your reader’s attention throughout the piece. In terms of copy, this means that you should give thought to your headline and subheaders. Then, identify quotes that can be pulled and inserted into the piece. Next, insert the relevant social media examples and metric graphs. You want to break up the paragraphs of words with images or graphics. These can be repurposed later when you share the case study on social media and email.
Sprout case study of Stoneacre Motor Group
In the Sprout case study of Stoneacre Motor Group, we added three statistics right below the header. They’re succinct and grabs the reader’s attention.

And finally, depending on the content type, enlist the help of a graphic designer to make it look presentable. You may also want to include call-to-action buttons or links inside of your article. If you offer free trials, case studies are a great place to promote them.

Social media case study template

Writing a case study is a lot like writing a story or presenting a research paper (but less dry). This is a general outline to follow but you are welcome to enhance to fit your needs.

Headline

Summary

  • A few sentences long with a basic overview of the brand’s story.
  • Give the who, what, where, why and how.
  • Which service and/or product did they use?

Introduce the company

  • Give background on who you’re highlighting.
  • Include pertinent information like how big their social media team is, information about who you’ll be interviewing and how they run their social media.

Describe the problem or campaign

  • What are they trying to solve?
  • Why is this a problem for them?
  • What are the goals of the campaign?

Present the solution and end results

  • Describe what was done to achieve success.
  • Include relevant social media statistics (graphics are encouraged).

Conclusion

  • Wrap it up with a reflection from the company spokesperson.
  • How did they think the campaign went? What would they change for next time?
  • How did using the service compare to other services used in a similar situation?

Conclusion

Case studies are essential marketing and sales tools for any business that offer robust services or products. They help the customer reading them to picture their own company using the product in a similar fashion. Like a testimonial, words from the case study’s company carry more weight than sales points from the company.

When creating your first case study, keep in mind that preparation is the key to success. You want to find a company that is more than happy to sing your praises and share details about their social media campaign. We hope this guide helps inspire you to write your first case study–let us know the results you’ve found from creating case studies as part of your marketing strategy!

This post How to write a social media case study (with template) originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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We're ready to release another insightful interview as a part of our Break Free B2B series, this time with Brody Dorland, co-founder of the popular content planning platform, Divvy HQ. Brody is a self-described data geek. He believes data is a crucial component of successful content marketing.

The platform that he co-created is all about bringing data, structure, and strategy into content marketing. We feel that he's a practitioner who is uniting that data side with the creative side within B2B content marketing. That's why we were so excited to sit down with him for a few minutes and pick his brain.

We not only spoke about what B2B content marketers can start doing to boost the success of their content marketing initiatives, but also gain insight into where B2B content marketing is headed in the future.

See the full interview below so that you don't miss a single insight from our friend, Brody Dorland.

Here are a few of our favorite moments from the interview with Brody.

Sue: So you've been in the content marketing industry for quite some time. Over the years, what have you seen as the biggest improvements?

Brody: I've really been pleasantly surprised to see the evolution of just how smart companies are getting with their strategy. Actually, this morning [at CMW 2019], they talked about the latest data from Content Marketing Institute's, saying that 41% of marketers now have a content strategy in place, which is up from last year, which I think was 34%. So we're making progress.

Part of the onboarding process that we go through with companies is to bake in their content strategy into our tool so that we can help them manage it going forward. The thing that we've seen from an evolution standpoint is that it's getting easier for them to get that content strategy baked in. When we ask them questions, like, "Okay, what are the topics of content that you typically cover?", they're able to plug that in easier. When we asked, "What audiences are you targeting with your content?", they're able to plug that list in easier because they've thought about it. They have a documented content strategy in place, so it's easier to plug into that area of our application and we can get them set up faster.

Sue: Let's talk about something less positive. What's not working in the industry?

Brody: I think one of the things that we still see and we preach every day, but we still see it, is the campaign mentality. There's still a large focus on very business-focused campaigns and obviously, they need content. So, a lot of times, the same content team that is doing all of the content efforts are also going to be responsible for creating assets for this campaign. But there's a mindset shift that needs to happen to get away from just "campaign, campaign, campaign" and filling our channels with these time-bound things.

[bctt tweet="There's a mindset shift that needs to happen to get away from just 'campaign, campaign, campaign' and filling our channels with these time-bound things. @brodydorland #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Certainly, if there's a good content team, they should produce results. But it's never going to be the long-sustained content, the true content marketing play, that needs to happen within many organizations. Obviously, different channels are going to lend themselves to that—like a blog. It's never-ending; we always need to have a solid content strategy for that. We always need to be optimizing for Google with that blog content. It's not a campaign.

So a completely different mindset in terms of how we tackle that channel versus email, which tends to be more campaign-centric. I feel strongly that companies really need to try to continue to get out of the campaign mentality and just leverage their channels for ongoing, good content that's going to serve their audience.

[bctt tweet="I feel strongly that companies need to get out of the campaign mentality and leverage their channels for ongoing, good content that's going to serve their audience. @brodydorland #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sue: What do you think are the drivers for that? Why has that happened?

Brody: I think it just comes out of the traditional marketing world. However, the holistic content marketing world, which is non-campaign focused, continues to proliferate. It's going to get better, but most agencies out there that still so campaign focused—that's what they've been doing for decades. Getting out of that mindset, even from a logistics standpoint, is harder for an agency to do. Not to say that agencies can't continually be involved in longer-term content marketing engagements, but it's just it's a different beast, a different animal than the typical world that they've been in for decades.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a couple interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Brody Dorland on Creating Long-Lasting Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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