As you’re probably well aware, one of the key components of a successful inbound marketing strategy is having high-performing social media channels that attract and engage potential customers.
Before you think you’re the exception to the rule and don’t need social media for inbound marketing, remember this: 2 billion people are active users on social media. Data from Pew Research shows these numbers are steadily increasing year after year; in fact, 76% of all internet-using adults used social media in 2015.
If that’s not proof enough that your prospects are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, well then I’m not sure what is. People follow the brands they like on social media and regularly make purchasing decisions based on the information the brands share.
Knowing how effective your social media channels perform and represent your brand is an essential part of your inbound strategy.
Whether you have a consistent social media strategy across all platforms or you just post on various channels sporadically, conducting a social media audit is an integral step in ensuring you have an effective social media presence.
If the word “audit” conjures up scary thoughts of numbers, taxes, spreadsheets and finances, take a deep breath. A social media audit is more or less a checklist of sorts — a way of conducting an assessment of how well your channels perform so you can make improvements.
The first step in conducting a social media audit is creating a template so you can regularly record data. This template will allow you to evaluate and assess your social media channels without too much effort in the future. Sure, it might take a while in the beginning to set everything up, but then you’ll have an easy way to assess your performance for years to come.
Here are the steps you need to take to do social media audits.
1. Create a template
The first and most important step is to create an Excel document with the following categories (I like this example from Buffer — it’s a great illustration of roughly what your finished template will look like).
- Social media site name (including, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr and Pinterest)
- URLs for each site
- Name of person managing each channel
- Follower counts for each
- Post frequency
- Last activity
- Referral traffic
- Percent change since last year and last month
While most of this data is objective in nature, you can include subjective information as well. I love this example from the Harvard Business Review. The final column allows you to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, assessing challenges and opportunities within each channel; this includes things like low visits, negative comments, positive engagement and brand presence. Regularly filling this column in can give you a big picture view of your performance.
One note: While I like these Buffer and Harvard Business Review templates, another option is to create an Excel spreadsheet page for each separate social media channel, as not all channels have the same metrics. This might be more time-consuming upfront, but would lead to more streamlined audits in the future.
2. Regularly fill it in
You need to decide how often you will fill in your template and stick to it. Whether you do it monthly or quarterly is up to you; quarterly is more effective for companies with seasonal products and offerings, while monthly is better for almost everyone else.
Just remember: Whatever you choose, stick to it. Consistency is key.
3. Monitor both short-term and long-term change
After each monthly or quarterly audit, don’t just create a PDF of the data to share with your team and move on. Take a good hard look at where you’ve made improvements or where you’ve slipped. Once you’ve been conducting audits long enough, look at yearly changes, too.
Now that you’ve created your template and know how to regularly use it, you can complete a full social media audit. Here are the next steps:
4. Ask the right questions
There are a series of questions you need to ask (and answer) so that you can make sense of all of your data. Answers to these questions will inform how you can make changes on your social media channels moving forward.
- Who are we trying to target on this account?
- Do our followers match our target customers?
- Do we have brand consistency across all social media channels?
- Are we using each platform to the best of our ability? Are we leveraging each platform’s benefits (i.e. imagery on Instagram)?
- How well do we interact with and respond to our customers?
- How does our performance stand up to our competitors?
- Do we have an overall feeling of positivity?
- Are some of the channels we’re using outdated? Would our time be better spent elsewhere?
5. Narrow it down
Figure out which channels perform best and which perform worst, and allocate your time accordingly. If your company performs shockingly well on Instagram because your content is visual in nature, allocate more time and effort there than LinkedIn, for example.
Don’t feel like you need to spend equal amounts of time on each channel; narrowing your focus to the best one or two platforms for your brand can be the best move.
Let’s be honest: If you are a makeup brand geared toward young women, LinkedIn probably isn’t the best move. And if you’re a roofing products company geared toward older men, saying "no" to Snapchat is probably a good idea.
6. Clean house
Feel free to delete any channels that really just don’t do anything for you. If you haven’t shown any growth or engagement on Google+ for the last year, for example, feel free to deactivate or delete your profile and spend your time elsewhere.
One tip I like from Sprout Social is to make sure you don’t have any lingering social media profiles out there that you forgot about. They suggest using a tool like Namechk or Knowem to scour the web for any social media profiles you may have lost track of.While it may require a lot of upfront legwork, conducting a social media audit is one of the best tools out there for assessing your performance, allocating your time appropriately and eventually achieving your ideal social media presence .