Digital marketers are typically busy churning out blogs, tweets, posts, and other types of social media and web content. Often, they’re generating huge amounts of content because they think they have to, not because they understand how it will benefit their marketing plans or overall business strategy.
The solution is a social media audit. The word “audit” may prompt visions of an agonizing tax audit. A social media audit, though, is a valuable upfront investment that can generate major benefits. (Sort of like a tax audit that finds the government owes you!)
The scope, terminology and steps of social media audits can vary quite a lot. Allie Rees, senior digital media strategist at LPP, recommends an audit that will provide tactics and priorities, not one that simply reports follower counts and tweet levels.
Rees suggests focusing on how your company stacks up against competitors and the overall market in a post for iMedia Connection. The main steps are:
Identify competitors. Although marketers may think they know their competitors, digital competitors may differ somewhat from competitors in the traditional marketing space. Conduct SEO research to find companies using the same keywords.
Rank competitors. Complete a competitive analysis. Research the social media platforms where your target audience is active, and complete a scorecard that ranks competitors by their social media efforts. Create a weighted scale that gives greater weight to the social networks used most often by your target audience, and score competitors across each network. That will create baseline ratings, with information on how often they post, what they post about, as well as anecdotal information.
Consider the landscape. Compare your company to the average number of followers, posts, or engagement in the sector. That’s what’s called the “landscape average.”
Evaluate the best content. Find the content with the highest engagement rates.
Analyze competitors’ audiences. Determine what types of followers each of the different competitors attract and the types of followers and influencers for the overall market. A “follower overlap analysis” can show how similar your followers are to competitors’ followers.
A social media audit can reveal areas where you can improve and openings in competitors’ customer service and content marketing that your brand can fill. Ideally, an audit ideally provides insight into competitors’ strategies.
Different Steps from Different Experts
Recommendations vary on what a social media audit should include and a how it should be completed.
Hootsuite suggests social media audit templates to ease the process and recommends these steps.
Create a spreadsheet. The owner field shows who controls the password and is responsible for posting and engaging on the network.
Enter your company on a search engine to find imposters using your company name. If you need to shut them down, report the results in the shutdown column.
Evaluate social media profiles. Add a column to write the mission statement for each profile. Align profiles with your business goals and objectives. That can help you decide if a network contributes to your overall strategy, and if your company should keep the profile.
Be on brand. In other words, verify that it has an appropriate profile photo, cover photo, icons, bios and descriptions, and a correct URL. Add spreadsheet columns for each item.
Centralize passwords. An audit can ensure that social media profiles are secure. For improved security, centralize ownership of the passwords for each profile. For instance, the IT department can own the key to all the passwords. A password managing tool can help share access on a need-to-use basis.
After completing the audit, create a process for creating new social profiles. Establish the criteria to be met before opening an account, who will approve requests, the target audience, type of content to be posted, and who will be responsible for posting and responding.
Bottom Line: Depending on its scope, a social media audit can organize social media marketing efforts and improve marketing strategy. An audit can also pinpoint weaknesses in your own strategies and uncover openings in competitors’ marketing that your own company can exploit.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.