How to Audit Your Social Media
Peter Panda

Clients of all sizes come to us regularly for a social media audit. Typically, they’re looking for an outsider’s perspective on the “health” of their social media channels. I’m a big believer that a regular audit of your industry and company performance is the only way to continually push yourself to accomplish bigger and better things.

If you’re thinking about executing an audit of your own, here’s a good process to follow.

Know What Questions You Want to Answer

Our clients arrive at our doors for a lot of different reasons, but some of the statements I hear most often include:

  • I like my current team/agency, but I want another agency’s perspective on how they could improve.
  • I’m thinking about ramping up a bigger social presence and want to know where we stand as a benchmark for future success.
  • I’d like to see how I stack up against my competitors.
  • An outside auditor (like Deloitte) told me I need to do this to check a box. (Yes, that really happens.)

As we talk through what an audit can accomplish, we typically land on the following questions that we want to answer through the process:

  • Where are my consumers spending time online?
  • How is my current approach performing, both vs. industry averages and against competitors?
  • Where do I stand now, and how can I improve this?
  • What types of content are working and which could use some optimizations?

If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish from the beginning, it’s difficult to find the right answer at the end.

Start by Listening

The first phase of data collection is to start with social listening. We use a variety of industry tools, including NetBase, to listen to how consumers talk about a brand and the industry as a whole. Typically, we want to understand four key things:

  • Mentions: How much are they talking? How does volume change over time?
  • Methods: Where are they talking? Do they gravitate to one social network over another?
  • Mindset: Are they mostly happy or unhappy with their interactions with your brand? How passionate are they about that sentiment?
  • Message: How do they talk about your brand? What language do they use? What drives them to discuss? What else are they doing when they talk about your brand?

The other key part of this step is to look at industry data about your consumer. Where are they spending their time? What devices are they using to access social networks? You can find out much of this information from the platforms themselves (think: Facebook Audience Insights) and from industry monitors like Pew Research Center.

Understand the Key Data

Once you understand the conversations happening online, look at your branded communities on all platforms. Assess reach, engagement and other key metrics for each brand in review. Consider the following metrics:

  • Community Size: While I don’t put much stock in this number, it is one of many metrics that can be used as a general gauge of where people raise their hand to receive your content. If your competitors have dramatically larger communities than yours, it might mean their content is performing better or they’ve put a lot of money into growing that community.
  • Engagements + Engagement Rate: Review how engaged your consumers are with your content on each platform, and calculate engagement rates by comparing engagements to reach. A very high engagement rate says your content is performing well, and there’s likely opportunity to extend your reach. A lower engagement rate tells you to optimize your content before you try to expand further.

Then, Go Beyond the Data

Although I’m a true data nerd at heart, data only tells one side of a story. Once you have the metrics, use some heuristic analysis to understand why that data might be telling a certain story. Do you find that your posts with certain kinds of images perform better than others? Or perhaps your audience is very engaged with links.

For some of our clients, we find it meaningful to do an A/B test comparing the types of content and content verticals to give more insight into the data as a whole. Just because your Instagram has high engagement rates in general doesn’t mean there aren’t types of content that, once singled out, will tell you to tweak your approach.

Measure, Rinse, Repeat

Once you’ve taken the time to audit your channels and have a good understanding of how to improve, the first thing you need to do is document what you found and the optimizations you plan to make. This will serve as a record and benchmark for the next audit you complete. Then, put together a plan to review this type of performance on a regular basis, and set goals of where you’d like to be in the next audit.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Get out there and start auditing!

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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