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The How and Why of a Social Media Audit for Brands

Does social media feel like a guessing game for your brand? When you post content, it often feels like a shot in the dark? You’re just never quite certain what to post or how it will go over?

If this sounds familiar to you, it might be time to audit your social media accounts.

For a brand that’s been on social media for some time (whether that’s three weeks or three years), taking a regular audit of your social media activity can help you gain clarity around what’s working and what’s not. The process can uncover the gaps in your strategy and identify areas of success you didn’t realize you had. A social audit can help your business recalibrate its presence on these channels.

Or perhaps one of your clients said they want your help with their social accounts. Before you dive in, doing an audit of their past social activity is a smart first step. That way, whether you’ll be managing their accounts yourself or outsourcing the work to a third party, a thorough audit can help them get off on the right foot.

Let’s walk through a four step social media audit below.

Step 1: Take inventory

List your channels

Start by listing URLs to the profiles you’re familiar with. If you know your brand’s been using Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, get those on the list first. Then do a Google search. And try searching directly within social media platforms too.

Especially if it’s been a while since your business has focused on social media, you might find other accounts you forgot you had. It could also reveal related profiles that weren’t created by your brand (e.g. fan accounts from people who love your brand or fake accounts that are pretending to be your brand). If you’re not sure whether an account you find is legit or not, make note of it so you can investigate further.

Screenshot of Twitter search bar, searching for Workify profiles

As you list your owned accounts, check your profile completion. Is your bio current? Is the branding consistent? Are your pinned posts up-to-date? Do your links still function? If anything is outdated or incomplete, make note of it so you can get it fixed.

Recall your audience and goals

Next, think back to your target audience and goals for each of your owned channels. When you initially created these accounts, you probably had ideas for how you wanted to use them. Write those things down so you can keep them at the forefront of your mind. While completing your social audit, you might find you need to make strategy adjustments to match how your brand has evolved since then. We’ll tackle strategy changes later, but for now, just focus on getting a documented history of your audience and goals for each channel.

First, consider your audience. You might have different audience segments on different platforms. Each social media platform has its own unique user demographics, which will affect who you can reach through that channel. List out the segments of the target audience you’re trying to reach on each of your owned channels.

Then move on to your goals for each channel. Maybe your main intention for Twitter is to provide quick support for your audience and engage in industry conversations, while on Instagram you want to focus on inspiring your audience and sharing your brand’s culture. Perhaps LinkedIn is where you want to generate leads. Summarize your goals for each channel to round out your social media inventory.

Step 2: Review performance

Get the data

For this step, you’ll dig into data for each channel. If you use a standalone social media analytics tool, pull that up. Or you can pop open the analytics reporting tools directly in each social profile and start reviewing them one-by-one.

The exact metrics you gather will depend on your goals for each social media account, but here’s a general list of data points you might focus on:

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Shares
  • Link clicks
  • Comments
  • Direct messages
  • New followers
  • New posts per week/month

Also open up Google Analytics and view your website traffic from social media under “Acquisition.” Make note of which networks have given you referral traffic, which content people have interacted with most often, and the conversions you’ve received from this traffic (if you have goal conversions set up).

While you’re sifting through the analytics in these tools, we’d recommend taking a look at the demographic data for your profiles too. Make note of some basics about the demographics of your audience on each so you can better understand who you’re actually reaching with your content.

How far back you go when gathering these metrics depends on how in-depth of an audit you want to perform — and what you have time for. If it’s been a while since you’ve audited your social media activity, it may be best to go back six months to a year so you get a fuller picture. Otherwise you might find one quarter or one month to be sufficient.

Look for patterns

Once you’ve gathered all of your data points, look for patterns within them. Highlight the posts that performed the best and note any similarities between them. Pay attention to posts with the lowest performance too and see what you can learn from them.

You can also look at the particular content types that performed well on each platform. Maybe your audience enjoys watching videos on IGTV, but doesn’t click on LinkedIn Stories as often. Or they might like answering questions or taking polls, while carousel posts don’t seem to keep their attention.

Look for patterns across your social platforms as a whole too. Perhaps one platform is performing better than the others. Different audiences may favor one platform over another, so you may find your brand’s performance differs across each. You might also notice certain days or times tend to perform better on one channel than another. Make note of any patterns you come across and what they could indicate for your brand’s social media activity.

Step 3: Explore other brands

At this point, we recommend spending some time observing how other brands are using social media. Find a couple of good examples from each of the categories listed below and scroll through their social media activity. Notice what types of content they use and how their audience is interacting with it.

  • Your top competitors
    Find a couple people or businesses that are in the same industry and provide a similar solution to yours.

  • Brands who are in an adjacent niche
    Find a couple of brands that are in a related but slightly different niche. For example, if you run a web agency, you might look at social media profiles for design studios.

  • Brands who are in an unrelated niche
    Find a couple of brands that are in a totally different niche, but they do social media really well. Here are some suggestions: Hubspot, Moonpie, Chipotle, Haus, GoPro, BarkBox, Innocent Drinks, Zendesk (the list certainly doesn’t end here!). You might be surprised how much you can learn from brands that do something completely different.

Step 4: Make informed decisions

Now it’s time to make some calls about how to move forward with your brand’s social media efforts.

Determine your channels

Revisit your list of social media profiles. Based on your goals, your analytics, what you know about your audience, and what you’ve seen from other brands, which platforms do you want to focus on the most? You might find this list of questions helpful as you evaluate your options.

  • Which social media platforms align best with my business goals?
  • Which platforms are my target audience using most?
  • Which platforms have I been using most consistently in the past?
  • Which platforms have I been using least consistently in the past? Why?
  • Which platforms have I seen the best result from (based on my goals for the profile, such as lead generation, website traffic, or post engagement)?
  • Are there any new social platforms I’m not currently using but should be?

Determine your strategy

Last, review your social media strategy. Go back to the notes you made earlier when documenting a history of your audience and goals for each of your channels. Use the list of questions below to help you determine where you can make improvements to your strategy so you’ve got a solid plan going forward.

Are my social media goals current? Do I need to update any goals to better reflect where my brand is at now?

  • Is my target audience current? Am I reaching the right people on each channel or do I need to make any adjustments?
  • What types of posts or content performed well in the past? What topics performed well? What should I create more of going forward?
  • Were there certain days or times when posts performed best?
  • What content gaps can I identify? Are there any relevant topics or areas of interest for my audience that I’ve been overlooking?
  • What percentage of my social content is purely promotional? Is that too high (or too low) for my audience?
  • Are there any ideas I gleaned from examining other brands that I can repurpose and use as inspiration for my brand’s content?
  • Are there any areas I can use to stand out from my competition?
  • What are my next actionable steps?

With that, you should have a more comprehensive understanding of where your brand stands with its social efforts and where you’re headed for the future.

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