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    Depending on the industry you’re in, you may find yourself asking “Is social media really that important to the success of my business?” It’s a good question to ask and the levels of engagement will more than likely vary from one business to the next, but social, to a certain extent, will influence the overall success of businesses in any industry.

    From those who got excited about Twitter for a hot minute, created an account, and then left it to die alone, to the company that spends thousands of dollars each year investing in social, it will always be a good idea to step back and take a deep look at what’s really going on across the landscape. How are your efforts are actually furthering  your overall business goals?

    Here are six key steps to planning a successful social media audit for your business.

    The 6 step social media audit

    1. Evaluate Each Platform Honestly

    Let’s be honest with each other first — there are far too many social media platforms for it to be possible to be present (and active) on every single one of them. Conducting an audit of your presence in the social sphere will help you identify which platforms are working for you, which ones are not, and which ones could. An e-commerce business will run their social channels in a completely different way than would a B2B business selling software. Where a retailer may find great success on a visual platform such as Instagram, they may totally sink to the bottom of the pool we refer to as LinkedIn.

    On the flip side, a business targeting CEOs and C-suite executives may thrive in an environment like LinkedIn and struggle to get more than 10 Likes on a stellar Instagram photo.

    The key here is to know your customer and go where they go. Comparing the engagement you see on each platform side by side will allow you to determine where your time and resources should be spent.

    2. Dive Head First Into the Nooks and Crannies

    Creating a thorough audit of not only your own chosen social platforms, but also the social landscape in which you’re competing for attention will take time — lots of time (but we promise that it’s worth it). We suggest strapping on those goggles and diving in head first. Set aside the time (or hire the right people) to really dig deep into the details of each platform your business is committed to (and potentially, the platforms you’re not on yet…but we’ll talk about that more later).

    Success on social isn’t just about creating beautiful content and putting it out into space with the hope that your current and potential customers will enjoy it. Although content truly is the king of the social space, engagement is the queen (and we all know who really rules the throne). Spend the time it takes to look through past posts, identify the amount of engagement and quality of engagement different types of posts have received across each platform.

     

    3. It’s Not Just About Content

    Our previous point leads us nicely into this next one. Like we alluded to before, the true measure of social success is engagement. Benchmarks for engagement are easily accessible with a quick Google search to all who are curious, but the key here is to look up benchmarks specific to your industry. Just because a clothing retailer gets 4.5 percent Instagram engagement and your non-profit gets 2.3 percent, doesn’t mean that you’re failing or should jump ship.

    Compare your engagement to others in your direct competitor set to determine where you truly excel and where improvement could be needed. . . and then, if you’re like us, shoot for the stars and get to that 4.5 percent.

     

    4. Snoop Your Neighbors

    The grass always seems greener on the other side, doesn’t it? Well, you won’t really know until you take a deeper look at what’s happening on the other side. Looking to your competitor set to see what’s working well — and what’s not — will allow you to make better choices without spending the money or being the guinea pig.

    As part of your own social media audit, we recommend including a high-level look into the happenings of your neighbors as well. This will tell you where (and how) they’re finding success with an audience that may be untapped. The key here is to keep being you, while also applying lessons from those that function much as you do.

     

    5. Take Organic vs. Paid Into Consideration

    Before you jump the gun and start freaking out because so-and-so-competitor gets 400 likes on their Facebook posts and you get 6, take this into consideration: Paid vs Unpaid. Your brand will have to fight harder for audience attention on some platforms over others. Facebook is notoriously tough for brands that don’t have the budget to boost posts and set up ad campaigns. Although it can be frustrating to pay for Facebook views (and, ultimately, engagement), we’ll remind you that these people you are reaching are the ones that opted in to getting updates from your business. . . this is extremely valuable!

    Evaluate your own business and weigh the success of each platform with the budget you spend on each in mind. Do the same when you look at your competitors. You probably won’t know the dollar amount they spend, but you will be able to see where they’re dedicating the most resources.

     

    6. Plan for the Future

    Here’s what not to do: Nothing.

    All of this research is valuable — really, really valuable. So, plan for the future, evolve, and make your social presence stronger. Take what you’ve learned about your audience and build content that caters to them. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your social platforms aren’t really about you…they’re about them. Be mindful not to lose your brand voice (or integrity), but adjust the way you communicate based on the platform, the audience, and the engagement.

    Whether your business has proven to be successful with social media or it has struggled, we can all learn from a little bit of honest self-reflection (AKA an audit).