The social media audit.
Just hearing this ambiguous, seemingly gigantic title can be enough to send many marketers and communicators running for the hills. In my experience, this feeling often comes when there are no clear parameters defined at the outset of the project and no goals outlined for success.
Well, you’re in luck! The big bad social media audit does not have to be scary or overwhelming. As strange as it sounds, I actually enjoy performing social media audits for our clients. You get to play detective with your brand, and who doesn’t love a little mystery in their life? (OK, maybe I watch too many reruns of Law & Order: SVU, but back to the point…)
The steps that follow are the steps I take every time I perform a basic audit. This has helped me stay organized, gather the most information I can, and provide the best output possible for our clients. As a bonus, it helps me feel like I am following a roadmap, which makes a large and overwhelming task seem less so.
1. Compile a list of all social profiles, pages, and groups associated with your brand.
To get started, ask yourself where your brand is being represented online. Start with the most obvious social media platforms, and when you’ve established all known profiles, next work on expanding to some lesser known sites.
Here’s a list of common platforms as a starting point. When you’ve gone through this list, try using Google to keep searching to make sure you’ve found everything that may have been created.
As you find each profile, begin to document basic information about each site. The most important elements to capture at this stage are below. Using a simple spreadsheet to track this information is key.
I love the template that Buffer created to help social media managers get started with tracking these numbers – it’s been invaluable to my efforts over many audits.
- Social platform
- URL for later reference
- Profile name
- Number of followers, fans, likes, etc.
- Estimated frequency of posting
As you document the information above, begin to take note of trends, patterns, and your own thoughts regarding each channel. Of particular importance is how your brand is interacting and engaging with its intended audience(s). You will naturally begin to formulate an opinion regarding the effectiveness of each social network for your brand and you want to make sure you are using data to support your recommendations.
2. Make a list of profile elements, including what’s there and what’s missing.
What is your brand doing right? What is completely missing? You will want to review all profiles for consistency, accuracy, completion, and visual appeal. Here are some essential items you’ll want to check and evaluate during this part of your audit.
- Profile picture – What is your profile picture? Does is accurately represent your brand? Is it sized correctly for the platform in question? While profile images don’t need to be exactly the same across all social media networks, they do need to be sized properly and have a consistent tone.
- Bio and/or profile description – Does each profile have a biographical portion completed? Is there consistency among bios? Are the bios optimized for search (e.g., hashtags on Twitter)?
- Imagery – Do you have additional photos where necessary (e.g. header/cover images)? Are there visible examples of your brand’s service offerings? Is this profile visually appealing to your audience?
Make sure to keep track of what items you will need to follow up on as you go. Documents and images may need to be gathered later, so try to stay organized with your notes during this stage to make cleaning up your profiles easier down the road.
3. Set and/or re-evaluate your goals.
How you tackle this step all depends on how much work has already been done for your brand and its social media efforts. If you already have a measurable set of goals that you are working towards, take this time to document your progress and outline where you stand. The results of this audit may lead you to re-evaluate and tweak your objectives.
If you have yet to set goals, there’s no time like the present. Take an initial go at setting a few high-level goals based on the information you’ve already gathered. You will have time to review and edit these as necessary, as social media is always changing.
Feeling stuck on how to set your goals? Try to expand on a few of these to get you rolling:
- Raise brand awareness through thought-leadership, audience engagement, and proactive follower growth.
- Increase lead generation efforts and build community with targeted offers to current and potential audience.
4. Review your competition.
When beginning a competitive review, make sure you are gathering examples from a variety of brands you consider to be competitors – i.e., don’t just pick companies that are EXACTLY like you. There are many factors that make a competitor, so be sure to review for elements that you admire and also those that you may not want to mimic.
This step is very similar to the 3 steps you just completed. First, gather the information below, then begin to analyze how your competitors’ social media efforts may impact your goals and objectives. Combining your brand’s current efforts with strong benchmarks with competitors will allow you to build an effective and successful social media strategy.
- Compile a list of competitors’ social profiles, pages, group, etc. for at least 3-5 competitors.
- Review competitors’ branding, profile details, biographical information, etc.
- Determine how your current and/or future social media goals may change based on this new benchmarking information.
5. Reflect and recommend changes to your team.
That’s it. If you’ve made it this far, you survived your first social media audit. (Cheesy high fives all around!)
Now, you can review your findings with your team and make recommendations on how to improve your presence, both from a top-level strategic side to a tactical implementation side.
We’d love to know what you think about our recommendations. What are your favorite tips or tools for completing a social media audit? Any articles or resources you find especially valuable?