How to conduct a social media audit

How to conduct a social media auditIt is essential to carry out a social media audit, be it at the start of a campaign, or for a new pitch prospect, or even a regular quarterly “MOT” of your own social media programmes. This should stand aside from the regular monthly key performance indicator (KPI) reports that campaign managers should run and it helps if someone neutral and unconnected with the programme conducts it to avoid any misrepresentation of the data and to add new ideas.

The role of social media audits is particularly relevant given that many brand presences were set up in haste to respond to client demand without clarity of an objective or proper planning. But what should a social media audit actually look like?

Get Back to Basics

Firstly, it is key to articulate the business objectives and remind yourself of the target audience. Is the overall campaign reaching the right people and achieving the response you wanted? What is your Google Analytics data telling you about visitor behaviour? How well has your team been able to resource and how have they been engaging with your community? Have you got a social media protocol or policy at all and have your staff being following it? Has the brand been running online ad campaigns? If so, how are these performing compared to “earned media” activities, such as PR and social as a driver of business? Is your branding, tone and messaging consistent across all platforms?

Channel by Channel Analysis

What channels are you utilising and how have they been performing? What could be improved, from design and usability to the way they are managed? Are you even on the right channels? Is the time and budget and apportion to any one particular channel providing you with a return on investment and “intention”?

Analysis each channel as both a standalone operation and also its role in the entire round of your outreach. Don’t get hung up on shallow metrics, such as mere “likes”, but look at how your engagement on those channels are aiding overall goals. This article and infographic contains some interesting tips on what you should look for when analysing channel effectiveness.

Often overlooked is the brand’s own website itself. Social and search engine optimisation (SEO) can lead the horse to water but if the website does not make the visitor’s job as simple as possible and forcing them to leave the site for another then all that campaign effort is wasted. With online, simplicity is strength, complexity is weakness. How often has your client told you; “well, we can’t touch the website”, regardless of how shoddy it is? It’s a difficult conversation, but it ultimately can impact performance, so have that conversation. A neutral, objective social media audit can help you articulate your argument.

Are social feeds clearly findable on the website and do posts have sharing options? Little things go a long way to helping spread content.

Keyword and Content Analysis

If you are doing social media properly, you will have targeted a list of keywords which you will be creating content and outreach (PR) campaigns around. How are you performing? What’s working, what’s not and how can you change that? Is any surprising data coming across? Which pages are ranking high on Google for you? If words don’t work, can you try less competitive video or images (“Universal Search” tactics) to rank instead?

It’s worth using a search tool such as Searchmetrics, SEOmoz or Raven to get a sense of where your site ranks, your inbound links and social visibility.

What content is resonating most and on what channels? What could you be doing that you’re not currently? The type of content that will work for you depends on your audience and desired outcome (brand awareness, education, search ranking etc.). Look beyond mere hits and views and look at back-end data to see how those responses have been translating into actions that impact the bottom line. Have you been using tracking URLs on content? If so, how have they been performing?

Here’s a really great post from Blue Grass on how to work out your “content performance ratio”.

Are you hitting the influencers?

You will have mapped your influencers out in the media, bloggersphere and on Twitter, for example. These are the people that are going to help amplify your content and drive back links to your site. How many gave you coverage or a mention over the last period of measurement? What was the outcome? Did they provide a “follow” link, too? How did your coverage correlate with Web traffic and visitor behaviour around those spikes? Is your PR even synced up with your online campaigns or is it still a siloed, pre-Social Web anachronism?

How’s your mobile experience?

Regardless of which study you read on the subject, the consensus is that we are now at the tipping point where the majority of searches either are – or shortly will be – conducted by mobile or tablet device. Is the brand’s site set up for this? Is the brand’s offering such that a mobile app would add to the user experience over a mobile web experience?

What are your competitors doing?

Your competition shares a great deal (if not all) of your target audience, so what are they doing? How are their social channels performing? How are they performing against your sites on keywords? Is their buzz more or less prolific and positive than your brand?

Above all, be honest

If you are conducting your own audit it may be tempting to dress the figures in a positive light. Don’t! It’s better to be honest. Social is one big learning curve – so long as you take those learnings and make them into a positive change of course.

Use data wisely and intuitively, making sure you measure what matters. Step away from the brand and think like one of your audience. Only then can you make solid recommendations on digital strategy as ultimately your audience will decide the success or failure of your online campaigns.

What has your experience been with social media audits?

Chris Lee is the MD of Planet Content.

Main image bigstockphoto.com.