5 Steps to a Social Media Audit

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

5 Steps to a Social Media Audit

While it is common to look back at the year and assess how your business has done, every business owner knows that this analysis needs to happen more often than annually. Still, the end of the year is a good time to step back, take a breath, and look critically at the way you’ve been doing your social media marketing as well as plan where you’ll be making changes in the coming years.

Before staring your social media audit, ask yourself these questions:

What worked in the past year? Only you can determine what qualifies as “success.” Why the easy answer is “more sales,” the truth is every sales cycle is different and consists of multiple steps before the actual sales happens.

Look for signs that your social media marketing had an impact on several places along your customer’s journey, not just at the cash register. This could include more visits to your website, more inquiries, more sign ups, more attendance, and the harder to measure but equally as important “more brand awareness.”

What didn’t work? We tend to notice only the colossal failures and smaller but constant mistakes or the missed opportunities. Revisit your social media campaigns and look for trends. Which campaigns fell flat and is there a common thread between them such as too much text on the images or a missing call to action? Don’t turn identifying weaknesses in your social media marketing activities into a blame game but instead look at them as opportunities to improve what you’re doing in the coming year.

How have my business goals or landscape changed? Every business changes year over year. Have you hired new people so you have increased capacity or did the opposite happen? Have you changed what you offer – more products, less products, new services? Have you zeroed in on a new market or market opportunity that changes who you’re reaching and how and where you should communicate to them?

As your business changes, your social media marketing goals and tactics should change accordingly as should all of your marketing and sales efforts.

Here are five areas you should examine to conduct a thorough audit of your social media presences and activities.

1. Branding

Look at your list of the social media accounts that you’re using on a regular basis. Are they visually consistent with a prominent logo, brand-appropriate imagery (photos and videos) and aligned with each social network’s best practices? Are you utilizing all the features each social network provides to promote your company and showcase your brand and offerings?

2. Messaging

Is your messaging clear with calls to action and not just on social media posts but also in your account profiles and bios? Don’t miss any opportunity to clearly communicate what you do or what you sell and what you’d like others to do or buy.

3. Engagement

In social media, you have to strike a balance between the hard sell and the social conversation. Are you taking the time to be conversational and are you getting any responses? How does your outreach look? Or are you holding one-way broadcasting sessions scheduled to release regularly without actually going into each social network and interacting? Unless you’re simply posting sales and discounts – two topics that still get some attention – you may be falling short on engagement, a critical step before conversions happen.

4. Conversions

Conversions are concrete actions that take place including, but not limited to, sales. These days, it often takes spending money on advertising on social networks to get noticed. Based on the time and money you’re spending, how many social media posts or ads are actually converting?

Look specifically at click-through rates where you’ve been able to move someone from social media to another destination such as your website, online store, event registration, or other place where people can transact with you. Which ones are driving traffic or actions or both? This goes back to what is working and what isn’t. When money is on the line, you want to make sure you’re learning from the failures as well as the successes.

5. Return on Investment (ROI)

Are your social media accounts still active and viable as marketing tools for your company? What is the cost of maintaining and promoting each? What is the ROI on the money and time you spend on each? Are you actually seeing any return, and if not, why not? If so, how can you improve on what you’re doing to see progress and growth month over month?

Knowing how you’re doing is part of the equation for social media success. Understanding your customer and prospective customer is important to know when, where and how to effectively reach and engage with them. Staying on top of the latest social media trends is also important because you will need to adapt your social media tactics to correspond with new developments or you may lose attention and momentum. Overall, stay true to your brand, be interactive and human, and don’t forget to take a step back on a regular basis and assess what you’re doing to make sure you’re still on track.