If you read our piece on creating a social media strategy, you know that a social media audit is the first step toward establishing a baseline for your future social media efforts. In this piece, we dive deeper into the topic of social media audits, covering what they are, why they’re important, and how to get one done.
To perform a social media audit is to take stock of your company or organization’s social media presence. It entails looking at all of your social media channels to identify your successes, challenges, and opportunities. Social media audits help you identify how you can improve on social media, which is why it’s important to conduct a social media audit prior to writing or revising a social media strategy.
Why Social Media Audits Matter
A social media audit lets you discover which of your channels are doing well, whether the audience you’re reaching matches your target audience, the types of content that resonate with your followers, and more indicators of performance and success. By analyzing the information your audit yields, you’ll be better positioned to decide where and how to focus your social media efforts moving forward.
Conducting Your Audit
There is no one hard-and-fast approach to conducting a social media audit; a lot of the particulars will depend on the information that your brand, company, or organization identifies as important. But there are certain steps and elements most good social media audits share.
1. List your social media channels—all of them.
You should begin your audit by creating a document where you will record all of your findings, and that document should start with a complete list of the social media accounts your company or organization actively uses. You should also make an effort to find any rogue or long-forgotten social media accounts that bear your company or organization name or the name of any affiliated branded products or services. You’ll want them all in your purview before moving on to step two.
2. Check for brand alignment.
Your social media accounts should give people an accurate impression of your company or organization’s personality. Part of the job of an audit is to determine how well that’s coming across.
Once you’ve identified all of your social media channels, evaluate how well they reflect the brand your company or organization is trying to build and how consistent (or inconsistent) your brand is across your various platforms. To do that, you’ll want to look at some key elements of social media branding:
- Account handles—Do they reflect your brand? Do they match across channels? If not, are the differences in handles intentional, logical, and strategic?
- Profile, cover, and post images—Are you using your most-current logo? Are you using recent imagery and abiding by your visual brand stands?
- Bio/profile/about copy—Is it filled out? Is it up to date? Is it on message and in alignment with your mission and values? Should it be revised to make it more tailored to your brand and less generic or milk toast?
- Post copy—Are you writing posts that reflect your brand voice and personality? Can you find examples of particularly on-brand copy? Can you find examples of copy that miss the mark?
3. Figure out who you’re actually reaching.
You probably have a good idea of who you want to reach on social media, but reality might not sync up with your aspirations—and that’s important to know. Take a close look at the people following your accounts on various channels. Some channels, like Facebook, do the legwork for you, offering in-depth analytics on your fans, followers, and the individuals who engage with your posts. Other channels’ analytics are less robust, so you might have to do a little manual digging.
In either case, you want to gather enough information about your social media audience to understand who they are and how well they match the people you set out to reach—that is, your target audience. Data points like age, gender, location, job title, industry, salary range, interests, and values can all be helpful to note, and all of them can be found outright via your account page or inferred through social listening.
4. Document measures of performance.
Next, you’ll want to examine how well you’re doing on each of the channels you identified in step one. You do this by tracking key metrics by channel and how they have changed over time—say, quarter over quarter or month over month for the past year or two (or some other time frame that makes sense for your company or organization). The specific metrics you choose to look at will depend on what’s important to your business objectives, but in general, it’s a good idea to look at the following:
- Post frequency
- Post engagement (clicks, reactions, shares, comments)
- Page likes
- Follower gains and losses
With this data laid out by channel, your opportunities and challenges will become clearer, and you’ll be in a better position to set feasible and stretch goals around social media performance down the line.
5. Identify your best-performing posts.
To optimize your presence on social media, you need to create content that resonates with your audience, so you want to identify what’s working well for you in that regard. As you’re documenting overall performance by channel, you should also pull your top posts by channel, defined as the posts with the most reactions, comments, and shares and the biggest reach. Once they’re identified and collated, analyze them for similarities. Maybe all of your top Facebook posts feature photos of people’s faces, for example. Or maybe your top Twitter posts all lead with a question for your audience. There is a huge range of possible patterns. Here are some factors to look at:
- Word count—How long or short is your top post copy?
- Copy purpose—Is it declarative, imperative, exclamatory, or interrogative?
- Point of view—Is it written in the first, second, or third person?
- Content format—Are your top posts video, image, GIF, meme, or text based?
- Tone—Are your top posts funny, serious, authoritative, sarcastic, irreverent, supportive, empathetic, empowering, etc.?
- Tagging—Do your top posts tag other brands, influencers, or community members?
Once you have an understanding of what your top posts have in common, you’ll know what to do more of when you go to create your social strategy.
6. Look to influencers—and your competition.
You’ll also want to consider the digital footprint of other brands and personalities in your space. Not only is it helpful to know how you compare and what you can aspire to, your observations can inspire ideas for improving your own performance. So, pick a handful of competitors and influencers that speak to audiences similar to your target audience and get auditing. Much like you did for your own social media accounts, you’ll want to look at what channels they’re using, how frequently they post, their top-performing posts, and the voice, tone, and language they use. See if you can identify useful patterns and then use that information to stimulate your own ideas for better content.
7. Keep track of additional insights.
As you’re auditing your social media accounts, you’ll likely come across information or important patterns that don’t fall neatly in one of the above categories. Maybe you notice that posts written in a certain tone elicit more negative reactions, or maybe you notice that staged, studio images of your product don’t perform as well as environmental shots of your product in action. Don’t ignore these insights. Instead, keep a section of your audit document open for free note taking.
Put Your Social Media Audit to Work
Once you’ve compiled all of your notes and data, it’s time to analyze it for actionable conclusions. How should what you learned change the way you manage your social media presence moving forward? What goals can you reasonably expect to achieve, and what’s the best means of reaching them based on your observations? Those are the questions you’ll want to continue asking yourself when you move on to writing (or revising) your social media strategy.
Try our Social Media Audit Template if you need help getting started.