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The importance of a periodic social media audit can’t be overstated – you have to know the impact of your efforts. But if you’re not looking at the right information, your audit won’t be accurate – and neither will your subsequent actions.

It’s not a numbers game

The word “audit” likely conjures up thoughts of financial analysis – like a tax audit. And, okay, the numbers side matters – of course. If sales are up or down this month, quarter, or year you want to know that.

However, to gain a meaningful understanding of how to proceed going forward, you’ve got to know why your numbers are up or down. And your social media audit tool should help you do that.

With social media, all context is tied to sentiment analysis – how your audience feels about everything crossing their path in the social landscape. Here are a few ways sentiment impacts your audit data:

Sales

The end result of your marketing efforts is meant to be increased sales, but the numbers alone don’t tell you much. What’s driving the increase also matters. Is it a cornerstone item your brand is known for that’s being discovered by a new audience? Or is it a new product solving a previously-ignored consumer problem?

When you look at consumer conversations and sentiment on social media these answers are revealed. Only then can you strategize about how to continue increasing profits.

Just as important is where sentiment is lagging. Maybe sales are up overall, but a specific area is seeing a dip. You have to understand how customers feel about your brand, your products, and your customer experience before you can take any action.

Customer service

It feels great to look at a spreadsheet and say “We resolved X complaints in X amount of time” – but this metric isn’t an indication of true consumer satisfaction. Fixing an issue doesn’t mean that customer will give you another chance. And the fact that consumers are complaining – publicly on social – is a problem of its own.

Analyzing sentiment gives you a clear picture of what consumers really think of your brand – and of how you manage problems when they arise. They talk about these things amongst themselves – sometimes without even tagging your brand.

You need to look at keywords and hashtags as well to uncover all they’re saying, and focus on those with the strongest feelings first. You may need a different approach to problem resolution, or to be more timely with your responses, to really wow your customers when things go wrong. These are the takeaways you want from your social media audit.

Engagement

Part of your audit is looking at what was successful on the engagement front. This includes content and channels as well as campaigns. Here again, if you don’t know what consumers love or hate, all future endeavors will rely on luck – which is clearly bad strategy.

You have to know the details of what is working to reproduce that success. And you have to know what’s not working before you can move in a new direction. Consumers aren’t shy about making their feelings known, so these insights aren’t hard to come by. You just have to know to look for them.

Influencers

No brand can do it alone – nor do they have to. Influencers are a valuable part of your team, and finding them is all about following the love. This is an ongoing process – and one that requires incentivizing those with social followings worth leveraging.

Are the perks you’re offering enough to keep influencers active on your behalf? This is the kind of data you need to uncover in your audit. It’s all about how influencers express their love for your brand when they share – or if they don’t.

It’s not just about you

Your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even if you hit every goal you set for yourself, if you’re falling behind the rest of your category you’re in trouble. As you audit your social media efforts, look at how other brands are perceived by your audience as well.

Are you keeping up with competitors? Are new challenger brands emerging and capturing the audience you thought was yours? Is the content of your rivals ringing more true with your audience?

Competitive analysis is also an ongoing endeavor. Use it to know if you’re headed in the right direction, or if your strategy needs retooling.

Stopping to benchmark your progress is a necessary part of creating a stronger future for your brand. Just remember to look deeper than the simple metrics of profits and losses and find the why behind these numbers. That way you can constantly improve your strategy and keep your brand on top.

It’s not worth taking the time to do a social media audit otherwise.

Want to see how our social sentiment analysis tools inform brand decisions? Reach out for a one-on-one demo!

Image from Sole Treadmill

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