If you own a business and juggle many social media accounts for your business, you probably already know how overwhelming it can be. There’s a lot of moving parts, and your messaging can easily be lost without a well-thought-out social media strategy. Whether you’re new to social media or have been struggling with it for years, a social media audit can be a valuable process to help eliminate the guesswork, and deliver the best results.
What is a Social Media Audit?
So, what even is social media audit? A social media audit is a series of steps taken to evaluate and optimize your business’s social media presence and strategy. The goal when conducting an audit is to create a clear picture of what you’re currently doing, the gaps in your approach, and then develop a plan of action to increase conversions. Periodically conducting a social media audit is an important part of developing, maintaining and updating an effective social media strategy.
How to Conduct a Social Media Audit
We know, it sounds scary. Audits are generally pretty painstaking and tedious. The good news is, we’ve put together this detailed description of everything you need to know about conducting a social media audit. What makes our social media audit different from most: we not only help you identify the gaps in your strategy, but we provide strategic solutions to fill in those gaps. Plus, we’ve sprinkled in a few templates here and there to help make the process even easier! 🙂 Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about conducting a social media audit.
Step 1: Track Down your Social Media Accounts
Find and make a list of every social media account across all social platforms. You can do this by searching your company name on Google and within the social networks themselves. Ask yourself these questions: Are there any inactive accounts that need to be deleted or consolidated into one account? Any imposter accounts that need to be reported? And most importantly, are there any value- providing opportunities to join platforms that your brand is not yet a part of? If so, go claim those usernames on those platforms!
Step 2: Take a look at your usernames
Another important thing to notice is whether your usernames are fitting and appropriate for your business. Get rid of any erroneous numbers, letters or punctuation that don’t match up with the official business name. Your handle should match up closely with your official business name, so it’s easier for customers to find your brand on social. If your ideal name has already been claimed, there are a few things you can do.
- Add your business location to the end of your handle (i.e. turn alchemythree into alchemythreeboston).
- Message the account owner and ask (nicely) for possession of the username.
- File a copyright claim.
Your usernames should be consistent across platforms. Take the time to claim usernames across as many channels as possible, even if you’re not active on them. If you ever do move on to that channel, your username is already claimed and accessible.
Step 3: Standardize channel ownership & centralize passwords
Based on Step 1, you should already have a unified list of all your brand’s social media accounts. If you have more than one person on your team working on social media efforts, it may be helpful to indicate who has responsibility and/or ownership over each channel. The next step is having a system for keeping track of your passwords. You can choose to use a spreadsheet, but there are lots of tools that exist if you desire higher security, like DashLane or Zoho Vault.
Step 4: Make sure each account has complete, accurate, and updated information.
Go through each profile and make sure every input option is filled accurately and consistently across platforms. This means biography descriptions, links to your website, location information, profile picture, business hours, and more. Of course, some platforms offer more input than others; Instagram allows for a website, biography and profile picture, while on a business Facebook page you can add a cover photo, a longer description, hours, prices, etc. Either way, this information should be complete on all profiles to ensure potential customers can find the information they need, and maybe some information they didn’t know they needed!
Step 5: Make sure each account is on brand.
Each account should follow your brand style guidelines. If you have not yet made one, create a brand style guide for each social media account to follow. Your brand style guide should define the overall feel of your brand, from imagery to keywords, from hashtags to the tone of your brand voice. There should be a common theme across platforms (i.e. consistent tone, logos, colors, fonts, etc.), but each platform should have unique content to provide value for consumers following all of your profiles.
Step 6: Check out your Google analytics.
Google Analytics is a free analytics dashboard that can help you identify the amount of traffic your site receives, where the traffic came from, and the amount of leads converted. Google Analytics can be a powerful tool for monitoring the impact of your social media marketing efforts and supplies loads of valuable information for optimizing your social media strategy. It provides a detailed social media report, which tells you which social media platforms give you the most traffic, demographic information, which content resonates most with your audience, the number of sales conversions your business gets from social media, the ROI of your social media campaigns, and more.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics dashboard set up yet, check out our guide to setting up a Google Analytics account here.
Step 7: Identify your top performing posts.
Most platforms have a free, built-in analytics tool. For example, you can use Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Analytics, and LinkedIn Analytics to view stats on your posts, follower count, and reach. Keeping in mind the most relevant KPIs and metrics for your brand, go through your posts for each channel and take note of your top performing content. Which posts had the highest engagement or resulted in the most conversions? What type of content were these posts (video, photo, poll, etc.)? Did a certain type of post perform better on some channels than others? Record any patterns in the notes of your audit document, and use A/B testing to test your theories. Over time, this will help you to refine your social strategy and figure out the most effective ways to connect with your audience.
Step 8: Evaluate the performance of each channel.
Using the same analytics tools mentioned in Step 7, take a look at your performance metrics to evaluate the overall performance of each channel rather than individual posts. If you haven’t already done so, create a few key short-term and long-term goals for each social account — it’s not easy to evaluate your performance when you haven’t even clarified what you’re trying to achieve! These goals will then inform the key metrics you should use to evaluate for each social channel. For example, if your goal for your brand’s Instagram account is to increase your number of followers in the short-term and increase follower engagement in the long-term, your key performance metrics would be different than say, your Twitter account, if Twitter is being primarily used for customer service purposes.
If you’re not sure what your goals are exactly, for most brands website traffic and conversions are super important metrics to track. Although tracking engagement levels and number of followers can be helpful, ultimately these don’t matter much if none of your followers are becoming qualified leads or converting into paying customers. Although these metrics aren’t built into the social media analytics within the platforms, you are able to track social referral traffic and conversions using Google Analytics, as described in Step 6.
Step 9: Determine whether you are reaching your target audience.
Your target audience is the specific group of people, likely from a certain demographic, you want to reach with social media efforts. They are the people who are most likely to be interested in your content and your product offering. You can start with a broad category like millennials, but don’t be afraid to get super specific — it’s all about narrowing your focus and expanding your reach.
To determine your target audience, you can do a few things:
- Compile data on your existing customers and audience on social media. This will help you figure out your target audience’s geographic areas, language, interests, income levels, and price preference. You can learn about the demographics of your followers using each social network’s built-in analytics tool, like Facebook Audience Insights.
- Use Google Analytics Audience Insights. This provides valuable demographic information about your social media audience.
- Engage in social listening to find conversations about your brand or your industry. Pay attention to relevant keywords and hashtags, and who is using them. You’ll probably learn something about the people who are talking about topics relevant to your business, and you might even discover some new hashtags to use on your social posts.
Once you’ve created audience personas (your target age, location, income, etc.) for each social channel, you’ll be able to create valuable content on the channels that resonates most with your audience.
Step 10: Understand the audience for each network.
In addition to evaluating your own demographics for each social network, it’s also helpful to take note of the general audiences on each network because certain markets tend to gravitate towards different platforms. For example, Pinterest is upwards of 72% women, Snapchat users tend to be much younger than users on other platforms, and LinkedIn users tend to have relatively high incomes. It’s important not to make assumptions about who is on each network (you might think Facebook attracts an olrder demographic, but Millennials still outnumber Baby Boomers on Facebook!) — otherwise you might be missing out on reaching potential customers. Again, it’s important to do this in tandem with analyzing the demographics of your specific following to determine if the platforms you are using are consistent with your brand’s goals and strategies (i.e. reaching those with the highest potential to turn into customers & brand loyalists!).
Step 11: Decide which channels work best for you.
At this point, you’ve gathered enough information to begin making strategic decisions regarding your social media marketing efforts. Based on the analyses you made in steps x, x, and x, you might be able to identify the best places to focus your energy to provide the best return on investment. Keep in mind that not every business needs to be on all social networks. Rather, focus on the platforms that provide the most opportunity for your business. Which channels are you finding the most success? Which channels have the most potential for success? You may decide to shut down a profile entirely (be sure to keep possession of the username in case you decide to pick it up again the next time you conduct an audit!) or consider a new social channel to replace it.
Step 12: Compare your performance to your competition
Conduct a competitive analysis to determine how your competition (4-5 of your top competitors) are using social media. Use the following questions as a guide:
- What social networks are they using, and which ones are working the best for them?
- How large is their following, and how fast is it growing?
- What are their engagement metrics? You can track these by using analytics tools. How frequently do they post?
- What kind of content are they posting?
- What hashtags do they use? How many hashtags?
- How are your competitors not using social media? This can be used as a competitive advantage, or could be a sign that they’ve already tried something that just doesn’t work.
Take note of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This could help inspire your own content, or identify an opportunity to differentiate your brand from the competition! You can use social media monitoring tools to help keep track of your competition. For example, Hootesuite can be set up to monitor relevant keywords and accounts, BuzzSumo identifies your competition’s most shared content, and Facebook Insights can be used to see your competitor’s follow growth and engagement rate at a glance.
Step 13: Compare against industry benchmarks
Conducting a detailed competitive analysis can give your brand insight into your close competitors, but it’s difficult to scale this process to be industry-wide. Instead, use social media benchmarks to understand how your brand compares to peers within your industry and where your marketing strategy might be falling behind. It’s important to note, however, that being above or below the industry average does not necessarily indicate that an industry segment is falling behind, rather, the traits of that industry might favor certain types of interactions. For example, for some industries, a high daily post volume is essential for standing out in a crowded space, while a more customer service-centric industry will receive more comments and direct messages per day in comparison to the average. Make sure to look at benchmarks across social networks as well as benchmarks for each industry to see how your social strategy is stacking up.
RivalIQ conducts an annual social media benchmark report, and here are a few of their key takeaways for 2020:
- Engagement rates on Instagram have decreased, but have remained relatively stagnant on Twitter and Facebook.
- Overall posting frequency has decreased.
- Contests and giveaways were popular hashtags.
- Utilizing carousels on Instagram can lead to higher engagement rates.
Step 14: Check on the health of your workﬂow.
Examine how well you and your team are functioning. Posting on social media can be a very detailed and tedious task, so if you don’t already have a standardized process in place, now might be time to make one! Here are some things you might need, regardless of the size of your business:
- A social media calendar that outlines when to post, your content mix, how often to interact with your audience, and more, while also leaving room for ad-hoc posts. Not to mention, how far ahead are you planning out these posts?
- A quality assurance process to ensure the quality of your posts are up to your brand’s standards prior to posting them
- A community management process that defines the turnaround time on messages and any template responses to commonly asked questions
- Clear roles or assignments for team members to ensure an efficient and logical workflow
Step 15: Determine which processes you can automate in order to save time & money.
Especially if you’re trying to scale your business, make a list of all the tasks that can be automated or streamlined. This could be something as simple as using an app to schedule and automatically publish posts, or something more advanced like finding influencers in your niche or tracking & compiling analytics from your competitors. There are plenty of automation tools out there (Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, Buffer, CoSchedule, and Scoop.it to name a few!) that might be suitable for your business, and most of their capabilities can be scaled alongside your business.
Step 16: Calculate your social media ROI
Social media ROI is a measure of all the efforts you’ve made or actions you’ve taken to create value, divided by the investment you made to achieve those actions. In other words, after all the time, money and resources spent on social media, what’s the return?
Here’s a basic formula suggested by Hootsuite to calculate your social media ROI:
Value / Investment (people hours, ad budget, etc.) x 100 = Social Media ROI (as a percentage).
This formula uses value, rather than revenue or profit, as the starting point because the way you calculate ROI depends on your brand’s objectives. Other forms of “value” might include business conversions, brand awareness, customer experience, partner confidence, or security.
To calculate how much you invest on social media, make sure you’re taking into account the cost of tools & platforms used, budget allocated to social advertising, how much it costs to create the content (Did you hire a freelance writer or designer? How many many hours did it take the graphic designer, writer, strategist, and editor to complete the content?), and any agency or consultant costs.
Step 17: Deﬁne speciﬁc goals for each network.
Using all of the information you’ve collected so far, it’s time to look forward by defining specific goals and action items for the coming weeks, months and year. Your goals should be SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. For example, you might decide to increase your follower count by 10% in 3 months. Your goals might be different for each social channel, and should be in line with your overall goals as a company. It might help to start with an ultimate goal, and work backwards from there to determine the smaller goals you’ll need to achieve along the way. To learn more about “backwards” goal setting, check out our article here.
Step 18: Use all of this information to determine your social media marketing budget.
Having a clear picture of you social media efforts will help you to be more realistic about the amount of time and money you are planning to spend on this aspect of your marketing budget for the coming year. Based on how much revenue you are currently investing and the consequent return (or lack thereof) on that investment, your company might decide to expand or cut certain expenses within your social media strategy.
Step 20: Schedule your next audit.
Conducting a social media audit quarterly is a great way to keep your social accounts producing a high ROI, and keeps you regularly checking on your short-term goals outlined in your long-term social strategy.