Why should marketers make time to perform a social media audit? In general, any marketing activity that replaces guesswork with relevant data should provide opportunities to improve ROI. To answer this question, it also helps to understand the increasing importance of social media marketing for growing businesses.
According to data collected by Sprout Social in a Harris poll:
- Social platforms introduced over half of consumers to new brands in the past year.
- Even more, almost half of consumers increased their usage of social sites solely to learn more about new products.
- Almost eight out of 10 consumers said that positive social interactions with a company would motivate them to make a purchase.
Social sites allow companies to connect with customers and expand audiences by crafting posts, influencer marketing, or responding to citations and mentions. At the same time, lots of businesses improvise their social strategies without taking time to develop a plan, state goals, or uncover information that will help them improve.
Even though many brands find social media marketing productive, they also recognize that they have plenty of rivals competing for attention. Businesses can benefit from the competitive advantage that data-based marketing plans can offer.
A social media audit provides essential insights into critical metrics. It demonstrates which activities offer the best returns and which ones need improvement. In turn, marketers can use this information to improve their results by fixing problems and focusing on activities most likely to yield positive results.
A quick five-step social media audit template
A term like audit might intimidate some marketers. Don’t worry. This kind of audit won’t require a team of financial professionals. The process should not take long and will rely on easily accessible data and a simple, five-step template. The audit also relies on information that marketers should find easily accessible.
Best of all, the audit won’t impose any penalties. Instead, it offers insights into areas for improvement. For instance, marketers may find they lack key metrics. Anything missing provides an essential insight into a place for improvement. Solid marketing plans start with measurable goals and the metrics required to measure them.
Step 1: Make an informative list of all social media platforms
As with any exercise, it helps to begin with a simple warmup. Start by listing all the social media sites the business uses. If a list of social sites already exists, ensure a team member takes responsibility for keeping it updated.
Social media management tools help improve efficiency and team collaboration. Some popular examples include Hootsuite and Sprout Social. These tools may also offer social listening features that help marketers keep track of brand mentions from other sources. For an audit, using one of these tools should make it easy to pull a list of social sites.
Social media software and apps can save time, help marketers stick to posting schedules, and provide important analytics. If the company uses specific social sites but hasn’t set them up in their social media manager, include a suggestion to update them in the audit report. If the business hasn’t started using a social media tool, this might offer an excellent opportunity to consider it.
Step 2: Check for consistent branding and messaging
Does the company’s presence across various social networks share a consistent brand voice, according to brand guidelines? Has the company even established brand guidelines that offer team members essential information like the mission, goals, target audience, brand voice, and images?
According to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, consistent branding benefits companies by developing positive brand recognition, trust, and customer connections. Many marketers only associate branding with logos and other images. While visuals matter, so will communicating values and missions to customers.
Businesses must develop brand guidelines to ensure marketers understand these critical factors and communicate them to the right audiences. Thus, reporting on deviations from these guidelines or even a total lack of them offers an essential opportunity for improvement.
Step 3: Identify the best-performing content
Marketers with plenty of social media history and some successes can gain quick insights by examining posts that performed well previously. Consider various metrics, including likes and shares, views, click-throughs, and conversions. Also, look at these metrics in light of the content’s goals.
With the right social media analytics, this step might look pretty easy. However, interpreting performance can take some judgment. For instance, engagement might help measure brand recognition campaigns, but marketers should measure revenue-generating posts by click-throughs and conversions.
Also, keep the specific platform, goals, and target audience in mind. For example:
- Light-hearted videos might provide a good way to improve engagement, but product posts, infographics, or longer text posts might do a better job of closing sales.
- Longer posts often succeed better on video-centric platforms, like YouTube, but Facebook users tend to have less patience and might prefer shorter ones.
Use analytics platforms to ensure the content attracts the intended audience. For instance, a light-hearted, punchy video might have generated plenty of engagement. However, it might not have achieved its goal if it had primarily attracted teenage viewers, but the intended audience consisted of millennial moms. In contrast, if an unexpected audience converted with click-throughs and sales, marketers might reevaluate their targets.
In any case, scouring high-performing content should offer plenty of insights to inform future investments. Similarly, low-performing content can tell marketers what their audiences don’t care for. At the same time, make sure to evaluate performance with other factors in mind, like the social media platform, audience demographics, etc.
Step 4: Spot high-performing platforms
As various audiences prefer different types of content, all social media users don’t share the same platform preferences. Past metrics will show which platforms have performed well in the past. That information offers a quick way to determine which social sites to focus on in the future.
At the same time, marketers may hope to expand into new platforms or experiment with different content on platforms they haven’t enjoyed a lot of luck with in the past. Combining an understanding of the audience with information about performance on other platforms can offer valuable clues for choosing new social sites.
- Sprout Social offered recent demographic information about popular social media sites. Despite Facebook’s reputation as a network where mom and grandma socialize, average users range between 25 and 34. Men slightly outnumber women. Users spend an average of about half an hour on the site daily.
- Companies looking to engage with older women should consider Pinterest, with an average user base of women between 50 and 64. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Instagram has similar average demographics as Facebook. If marketing performs well on Facebook, Instagram might provide a logical place to expand.
- In contrast, TikTok attracts teens and has an audience that skews towards females. Snapchat engages a similar demographic. Twitter attracts a young adult audience with more men than women.
The top platforms attract hundreds of millions to billions of users. Thus, social sites that might not look ideally suited to a specific brand’s target could still have plenty of users that qualify as part of a target audience. Thus, a product aimed at college students might sometimes perform well on Pinterest or Instagram. Use typical audiences on various sites as a guide, but don’t let it prevent experimenting with other venues.
During the audit, focus on figuring out which sites have performed well in the past. Understand that the reasons the posts succeeded might not carry over to another platform. In-depth knowledge of audiences can offer clues, but only real-world tests can provide verifiable results.
Step 5: Take Action
By now, a social media action report should offer plenty of valuable insights. The completed audit report should contain:
- A list of all current social media platforms
- Notes about posts that don’t conform to messaging and branding guidelines
- Information about high-performing content and platforms
Marketers should not need to struggle to find plenty of actionable items, including issues to fix, analytics data to acquire, brand guidelines to create or update, and potential types of content and platforms to focus on. Keep the audit document to refer back to, and very importantly, set a date for the next social media audit. The report can also provide a tool for budgeting and meetings with management.
Why conduct a social media audit as soon as possible?
Businesses increasingly depend on social media to connect with customers. Optimizing any marketing efforts requires a plan, goals, and a way to measure progress. The information produced by the report will enable marketers to develop an effective, data-driven marketing plan that should improve returns. Just as important, the audit report will give marketers a way to communicate with other team members and management.
Completing the five steps in this social media audit template should not take long. If the preparer faces obstacles because of a lack of information, the audit has already done its job by uncovering a significant weakness. At least the marketers now know they’re missing data, and this understanding will offer ways to improve to ensure the following audit report doesn’t take much time. Of course, taking actions specified in the audit report may provide plenty of work until it’s time for the next one.