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There’s no time like the beginning of a new year to do a little housekeeping – like taking stock of your brand and setting new goals for the year ahead. Part of “taking stock” should be performing a social media audit. Here’s why.

Understanding and setting your brand’s trajectory

We talk a lot about the importance of real-time social listening, and with good reason. Real-time metrics help you understand what’s happening in the moment – allowing you to make adjustments to maximize your efforts and ad spend instead of continuing on an expensive path that just isn’t working.

But real-time analytics don’t negate the need for historical data. To effectively plan broader brand strategies, you need to understand the long-term effects of your efforts as well. That means assessing data monthly, quarterly, and annually with a fine-toothed comb to see where you need to adjust your efforts in the grand scheme to guide your social media efforts overall.

Additionally, this lets you account for seasonal trends – to avoid false positives that can lead your day-to-day strategy astray. Retail brands might wish every month was like December, but it’s unlikely to be the case.

Because you need to source data from so many different areas, creating a spreadsheet to track your results is wise. Here are some key areas to delve deeper into as you perform your audit.

Your audience

Social media listening tools give you the means to accurately identify your audience and eliminate the wasted efforts and resources “guesswork” brings. Finding the common interests and affinities consumers share enables you to expand your potential audience beyond the limitations of demographics, introducing your brand to feel-alike audiences you didn’t realize could also love your brand. At least, that’s the goal.

But here again assumptions don’t serve you. Maybe not every segment you identified has engaged in the way you hoped. Maybe consumers aren’t as passionate as they initially appeared about certain topics you deemed worthy of spotlighting.

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A social media audit lets you learn where your expectations have come up short, and where your efforts are worth continuing.

Use your social analytics tools to focus on:

  • Which audience topics have resulted in the highest – and lowest – Brand Passion scores
  • Which audience segments have been most and least responsive to your messaging
  • Which topics you didn’t track, but have demonstrated a lot of interest

It may be worth dropping segments not engaging as you hoped – or changing how you approach them. Look at your competitors’ audiences and overall category with fresh eyes to see where the conversation has changed and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Channels of engagement

Just as your social listening informs – or should – the channels you choose to interact on, your social media audit tells you exactly how well those channels have been working for you.

If you’re new to social media marketing, you might have chosen to start with the largest, most popular platforms – like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But are those channels connecting you to your best, or most active, audience?

Or maybe you wanted to give something different a try – like Snapchat or Tumblr. Did the risk pay off? Or are there better channels you’ve yet to explore?

Your spreadsheet should account for the different metrics each channel offers – i.e., “retweets” on Twitters versus “shares” on Facebook and “repins” on Pinterest.

There’s not a one-for-one comparison, so you have to look at engagement as a whole, referral traffic from social sites to your website, and potential of each channel. Do you have influencers at work building a fan base for you? It might be too soon to pull the plug in that case. On the other hand, if you’ve got a profile with very little going on, it’s probably long overdue to stop wasting your energy there.

The important thing to remember is more isn’t necessarily more with social networks. It’s not about how many you’re on, it’s about how well the ones you are on are working for you.

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Taco Bell engages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube [Screencap by NetBase]

There’s no magic formula – it’s entirely individual for each brand. That’s why you need social listening tools – so you can objectively observe where your audience is active, and join them there. Then you need to see if those efforts are actually paying off.

Assess your content

Of course, the content you share impacts your performance on the channels you use – so if your data tells you your audience is on a given channel but you’re still not seeing the engagement you want, your content might be the problem.

And naturally you want to know what types of content are performing well, too. Is your audience responding most to images and GIFs? Or videos? Do they love or hate your promotional posts? How about posts that educate them on your brand – or other topics about which they’re passionate?

Which content from your website is shared most? You want to focus on that content as you link internally within new content, etc. If you have something old that is still doing well, find a way to refresh the topic and give it new life.

Also important to know is what social content drives the most traffic back to your website. Offer up more of whatever gets you the results you want.

And don’t forget the content that lives within your social profiles. Use your social media audit to check for consistency across all social profiles. Look at brand messaging, URLs and images to be sure your brand identity and contact information is consistent across all online outlets – or your engagement will suffer.

Instagram, for example, is an easy one to muck up. Because links aren’t embedded in post text, brands often change the URLs in their profiles for limited time promotions. And then forget to change them back when the promotion is over.

Finally, if you’re able to have an “official” account on a given platform, make sure you do. You don’t want to expend energy on social media endeavors simply to be tripped up by the small stuff.

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Assess and reassess brand goals

Your social media journey can’t be without purpose – or you’ll most definitely fail. Without goals, you have nothing to measure against, so be sure you know what you want out of your social marketing and analytics.

Whether it’s conversions/higher sales, increasing followers, increasing engagement, or identifying and inspiring brand advocates and influencers, clearly define your expectations, and use your social media audit to assess how far you’ve come, and what to do next.

Make a plan of how to get there, and use ongoing analytics to keep you on track – until it’s time to audit again next year. If you take your analytics seriously, even occasional bumps in the road won’t keep you from moving your brand forward.

Ready for your social media audit? Get in touch to find out how NetBase’s social media analytics tools can help!

4-STEPS-TO-BUILDING-A-SUCCESSFUL-SOCIAL-ANALYTICS-PROGRAM

Image from Boris Dzhingarov

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