There are many steps on the path to a healthy social media strategy. Hopefully you’ve clarified your organization’s mission statement, defined your value propositions, identified points of conversion, and stated your objectives. Now is the time to see what’s what when it comes to your online presence. Now it’s time for your social media audit.
(If you’re starting to feel panicky, like you missed something, visit my Strategy Series to catch up. This will be here when you’re ready.)
What’s an audit?
The word probably makes you think of tax time but it’s nowhere near as painful, promise. An audit is an evaluation and reporting of your social media and digital presence. It’s one of the very first things I do when I’m working with a client. What tools are you using, what’s the sentiment, what do you look like to your target audience? This will uncover assets you didn’t even know you had, incorrect information, and opportunities for growth. Audits are essential for me as a marketing professional to know my client better. They’re necessary for you to see what the world experiences when they search for you on the internet. Let me walk you through the steps of evaluating your presence.
Create a Document
List all the assets you have or channels you use. You may already have this information in the form of a digital asset list or master password document (download a free digital asset list template.)
Search the Web
Sometimes people call this “Googling yourself”and may not know that it’s also called a “vanity search.” You can use Google, the dominant search engine, but you might also search on another engine such as Yahoo! or Bing. The term dates back to when searching for your own name was considered vain, hence the name.
Look for any content that’s related to your brand. Search on the social channels you’re already using. See what comes up for your name that doesn’t belong to you, there may be duplicates or fake/fraudulent accounts masquerading as your brand.
Document the good, bad, and ugly. Save links to properties you come across with links and notes. You might not be able to find these links again so save them when you see them.
Optimize Your Accounts
This is the time to shine your shoes. Optimizing your accounts for search means updating anything that’s lacking. Your profile and cover photos should be up-to-date and of high quality and resolution. The descriptions should contain important keywords to reflect the brand and its objectives. Make sure your links and handles work the way they should. (You’d be surprised how often this stuff is busted.) Include missing information. If you’re using pinned or featured content, review it in case it’s no longer appropriate.
Now we get to take a look at your analytics to see what’s performed well. Check your Google Analytics reporting to see what pages on your website are the most trafficked and social media content that has high engagement. (Don’t have that yet? Here is Google Analytics setup info.)
In your best performing content, you should be looking for themes. What’s working well? How-tos or storytelling, selfies or bright colors, find patterns in what’s working. Do this in reverse for the content that’s finishing last on the list. Once we’ve identified similarities in successful content, we can attempt to replicate. Additionally, what we see the audience isn’t responding to are themes we may need to retool.
Your Best Gear
The blogs that perform better than the rest, the video that went viral, the photos that really resonated for your audience – know what your best stuff is and keep this in mind. When we work with our editorial calendars we can repeat this content in a timely fashion and/or continue to update and groom those pieces for accuracy and optimization. Make sure to include strong calls-to-action on your most trafficked properties and it will increase your odds of closing the deal.
As an example, I monitor my most popular blog ever “How to Hide Your Birthday on Facebook” because, why not? It brings in a ton of traffic every month so I make sure to maintain it. (Of course when I wrote that I went in and edited it a bit more.)
Do Some Research
Learn a bit about the channels you are already using to see if anything has changed in regards to traffic, feature additions, restrictions, changes, or improvements. Everything in social media changes rapidly so the strategy you were using two years ago may be sorely out-of-date. Get informed and make sure you aren’t shooting yourself in the foot with old tactics. Know the audience in those spaces and how best to use the information to your advantage. In addition, research to see if there are other channels that your audience digs and think about potentially adding them to the mix.
If you don’t already have one, create an inventory list of the digital assets you are using (download a free digital asset list template.) Your website, social media channels, editing tools – anything with log-in information. Password protect or otherwise lock down this document and only allow access to those on your team that you trust. This document will contain the channels, their function, the email address associated with the accounts, username, password, administrators with rights, and any other important information you need like special log-in links.
Please be smart and make sure to take away the keys or change passwords when someone leaves or you cease working with them! As a consultant, no one ever takes me off of their systems, I have to do it myself. Not everyone will be as honest or careful. Protect your assets!
Rinse and Repeat
Now that you’ve completed this, put it on your to-do list to be repeated every 6 months. You will need to perform a full audit or just a brush-up on a regular basis (I now do this every 3 months) so as to stay on top of it. I think of it like weeding. I don’t like it but I must perform this action regularly or my plants will get choked by the overgrowth. Here are more action items you can perform to manage the reputation of your brand.
Nice work! You made it this far, you’re definitely committed to improving your brand and creating a strong strategy. Make sure to visit the rest of this Strategy Series and share with others ready to do the same.