Guest post by Kevin Conner.
Social media success isn’t nearly as random as it can seem. Most successful pages and brands have had a great deal of work put into them over time, along with solid decision-making in terms of content, post frequency, and who or what they tag. Though it’s a challenge, there’s no magical force keeping you from reaching your social media goals.
To reach your destination, you first need to know how to steer your ship. That’s difficult if you don’t know where you are in the first place. To establish that, begin with a social media audit.
What Is a Social Media Audit?
This post will cover the basic elements. You may want to consult other sources for further details about the process. A social media audit generally looks into the following:
- The results of your posts and overall engagement, including metrics such as likes, number of comments, the overall reach for reach post, mentions, shares, and more. If it can be measured, it probably should be measured.
- How your posts perform in both short term and long term. While most social media content doesn’t have a long shelf life, sometimes a piece of content can go viral after the fact. A good audit helps you figure out why.
- Comparison of similar posts to see how the differences between them affect success.
- Both your top performing posts and your worst posts, in-depth, in order to help you adjust strategies for the future.
- The alignment between your social media campaign and your brand / company goals and stated values. There shouldn’t be dissonance here.
- Your expenditures and an analysis of whether the current outreach used is the most cost-effective option.
The audit will use the data collected to help your team analyze the interests of your audience and take demographics into consideration, maximizing future engagement.
As noted, you can absolutely add or remove elements depending on your business needs. What is important to note is that it is a holistic process. For this to be effective, you must look at everything. A missing (but important) factor can potentially take the whole audit off course.
To perform an audit, we recommend using social media monitoring tools so your time isn’t wasted gathering data (a task a program can do nearly instantly). Which tools to use is up to you, but try to pick a service that will keep all your data together for easier analysis, as well as one that won’t try to keep additional data behind paywalls.
The Information to Develop a Clear Strategy
A proper social media audit will provide all the information you need to develop a clear strategy and goals for the future. It will help identify which platforms to focus on for success, develop a solid posting strategy, and even help optimize post timing and scheduling.
Without such a strategy, your company could very well be reaching the wrong people or posting about the wrong topics. Your company’s reputation is can be significantly impacted by its social media presence. Flexibility and responsiveness are important, but a documented strategy is critical in establishing overall practices and objectives.
Uncovering Previously Unknown Variables
An audit, and the methodology you employ, should be able to spot the variables that were previously unclear to your company. It should take a big-picture look at things like what people are saying in their engagements with your brand, specific topics, and sentiment. It should help you more effectively capitalize on trends and address pressing problems in your industry.
Take Dacia, which after looking at previous data, decided to start using targeted boosted posts based on where users were in the buying cycle. This resulted in exceptional gains for their brand, and for the company in general. Only after analysis, as would be performed during a social media audit, could this strategy have been developed.
Keep Tabs on the Competition
In most cases, an integral part of a social media audit is checking to see how your presence benchmarks against competitors, in terms of engagement and following. Part of any good social media strategy is emphasizing your strengths relative to others in the market.
This will likely be done through some of the same data collection you do on your own pages. You don’t need to know every detail of their strategy, but you should be able to notice trends and spot tactics that are clearly effective.
Distinguish Good Investments from Waste
Because social media marketing involves ongoing and frequent updates, it’s possible to miss the big picture and continue work on unproductive projects for months or longer. A solid audit allows you to categorize and analyze all your posts, on each platform and as a part of your overall campaign.
It will help you identify what types of content are successful, and what type are not so much. Are your videos performing above par for the industry? What are the reactions to your posts, positive and negative? Are your general social media results in alignment with your objectives? These are the questions you’ll be able to answer with an audit.
Keep Up with Changes in Social Media
Other than the most general principles of success on social media, effective strategies and post types from last year won’t work as well today without appropriate adjustments. The fabric of online space and sharing changes constantly, and your social media presence must adapt or get left behind.
As an example, many social media platforms have in the past adapted their platforms so that news feeds will show more posts from friends. In this case, word of mouth marketing and influencer marketing are your best tactics to stay relevant. Are you adopting influencer marketing best practices? Is your company embracing video and live streaming? An audit will help with your research and provide answers to performance questions.
A social media audit can take you and your team several days, but the data and direction you will get will absolutely be worth it. Quarterly or at least annually, take information gathering into your own hands and plot a course for future social media success.
Kevin Conner is the founder and CEO of Vast Bridges, a customer acquisition and lead generation company in the home services arena. Since 2011 more than 10M consumers and businesses have used Vast Bridges’ web properties to search for Internet and TV service. Most recently he and a small team have launched broadbandsearch.net, the U.S.’s leading home services (broadband and TV) search engine.