Performing a social media audit from time to time is as important as any other business checkpoint – like financial audits, annual inventory, etc. But what exactly should you look at to make sure your social efforts are on track?
Success, failure and everything in between
It’s not enough to discover you’ve got more followers and assume all is well. You have to look at how social insights are impacting every area of your brand they touch. Did you achieve your goals – or do you need to tweak your strategy? This is what you must know before continuing on.
Looking back to move forward
Real-time analysis is what you want in the day-to-day – so you can make adjustments in the moment. But during a social media audit you need to look at the bigger picture, which means historical data for the past month, year or more, depending on what you’re examining.
Perhaps you had to do a 180-degree shift during an ad campaign. Your real-time data showed this made sense and the campaign was a success in the short term. Now look at the long term, and how that campaign – and all campaigns – impacted audience response, sales, etc. further down the road.
Also consider how previous historical insights influenced your approach to campaigns over time – and whether you had to make a lot of real-time adjustments. If so, you know your audience is very fluid, changing their opinions and behaviors regularly. Don’t make the mistake of targeting them in the same ways that worked before. Those tactics may no longer bring results.
Assess seasonal trends
As you track pop culture trends in real-time, you get a sense of whether your audience is interested or not. But don’t forget the longer tail trends that inform your business.
For instance, the back-to-school shopping period is a great indicator and dry run for the soon-to-follow holiday season – for most retail brands.
To know if this window is an indicator for you, you have to look back at the two and see if this theory played out in actuality. And then you have to look at how your social marketing was applied in each case, and what your analytics have to say.
Maybe there’s another period that’s a better predictor for your brand – or maybe you never thought to use the back-to-school shopping season in this way. This is why you’re auditing in the first place – to figure out what’s working, and what isn’t.
Don’t forget the basics
The foundation of your social strategy is built on the channels and content your brand leverages, and the audiences you engage. If any of your results are less than ideal, these areas might be to blame.
You’re never “done” in this regard. Content preferences change, longstanding channels fall out of favor, new channels emerge.
Additionally, your audience constantly evolves based on any number of influences, both online and off. Take the time to identify and understand your audiences’ evolution and adapt accordingly.
Check your standings in your category
A social media audit is a good time to see how competitor analysis efforts are panning out for your brand.
Have you correctly identified the right competition? It’s not just about major brands similar to yours. Emerging challenger brands can displace you when you least expect it if you aren’t aiming your social listening tools in the right direction.
If you acted on competitor insights this year, did things turn out as you wanted? Look at your data to determine why your conclusions worked or didn’t, and apply these lessons to the real-time data still pouring in.
Maybe you focused on product development, but what your audience really wishes you were better at was showing how to use the products they already love.
You have to know what competitors are doing, and how their fans are receiving their efforts – but translating that to your brand may not always happen in a straight line. Ultimately, you want to know how social media is helping or hurting your strategy, and affecting the way you achieve your brand goals.
When you’re dealing with in-the-moment insights and actions you can lose sight of the big picture. A social media audit brings that picture back into focus. Be sure you take a step back and look every once in a while. You might love the view. But if you don’t, you’ll have the data you need to make changes.
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Image from Alan Dean