Social media is long past the novelty stage. It’s a critical part of your content strategy, and like the other tactics you use, it needs to be monitored and measured so you can spend your time and money wisely, while getting the best return you can.

Before we dive into how to do that, let’s take a quick snapshot of the latest social media stats:

  • 3 billion people are active Internet users. That’s almost half the world’s population.
  • There are slightly over 2 billion social accounts.
global digital snapshot
This graphic is from Wearever’s Compendium of research into the digital, social, and mobile state of the world (a mind-boggling 376 slides’ worth of data)

Statistica tells us that 73% of US Americans had a social network profile in 2015. And as far back as 2013, Forrester analyst Zachary Reiss-Davis concluded that “everybody uses social media for work.”

Social media has also begun to be a noteworthy driver of website traffic. Depending on who you read, social is responsible for 31% of website traffic… or 5% of it.

So if you’re an active content marketer, you’re probably using one or more social media channels.

Do you know how well your social media is working?

It’s one thing to feel like your social media is working; it’s another to know for sure.

You can’t rely on other people’s numbers to light your way (or convince your boss when she’s determining the budget for next quarter). Studies done on other industries or on self-selecting groups may not apply to you even a little bit, and could be misleading.

The good news is, you can rely on your own numbers, once you get them, and they aren’t that hard to get. Start by doing your first social media audit, then rinse and repeat on a schedule.

What is a “Social Media Audit?”

A social media audit is a review and examination of the total social media presence of a person or organization. This means studying social media profiles, content, posts, posting times, and audience engagement for strengths and weaknesses. The goal of this review is to gather the data that will give you benchmarks, and from there you’ll have insight into how you can optimize your return on investment, and improve performance of the social media channels that deliver the best returns.

Auditing your social media begins with identifying the channels that produce your best gains. Analyzing these can help you figure out what to do to boost your social referral traffic and also shed light on your audience’s tastes. These insights can help you build a better, higher-converting overall content strategy that connects deeply with your target demographic.

Linking social media efforts directly to web traffic is a metric you might consider tracking. Using technology that allows the capture and attribution of leads can take you beyond total traffic and engagement (which are good) and tie those visits and interactions to real sales dollars (which is even better).

First, know your customers

Before you can dive in to evaluate content and interactions on your different social channels, make sure that you have a deep understanding of your audience. Take a look at your best customers, the ones you want to replicate. Better yet, take a listen.

You should know the answers to these questions about your target audience:

  • Which channels are they on?
  • What topics do they respond to?
  • What do they talk about on social?
  • Which hashtags do they use?
  • What are their pains and challenges?
  • How do they interact with different types of content in general?
  • How do they interact with your competitors?
  • Do you have potential customers in different segments, concerned about different things?

Make sure you understand your audience so you can create social content that answers their questions, piques their interest, and gets them to engage with you through likes, comments, shares, clicks, and web visits. (If you need to understand personas and segmentation better, check out this buyer personas toolkit).

Get Started with Your Audit

Setting up a social media audit can take time, but your preparation will pay off with making the actual audit better organized, so it goes more smoothly. And you’ll have a process in place to repeat the audit, so it’s an even better investment over time.

Build a spreadsheet

Create one that meets your own unique needs. Things to track might include the social media platforms you engage with, your profile names, the number of followers, possibly your last activity, etc.

This document will tally your findings, and will support your analysis once the audit is over.

Social Audit Spreadsheet

There’s no one right way to build a spreadsheet to house the data you will accumulate. Keep things together in a way that focuses on your team’s goals and in a way that makes sense to you and your team in the long run.

Clear Understanding of KPIs and Business Goals

Start with a set of metrics you want to look at. Depending on your business, you might consider:

Metrics that show reach:

  • Likes
  • Followers
  • Views
  • Subscribers

Metrics that show engagement:

  • Shares
  • Retweets
  • Comments
  • Downloads

Metrics that show revenue:

  • Leads, opportunities and closed sales attributable to social
  • Service opportunities that retain customers

What You’ll Be Doing

Now that you understand your business goals, target audience and have a place to track the information, it’s time to take the next step in the audit process. There are some key things that you will want to review and record before you plan what adjustments are needed in your social media strategy:

Profile Checks

Go through your social media accounts and check to make sure they are consistent, on message, and completely up to date. This will typically cover items such as:

  • Profile photos and headers: Check each one to make sure they are optimized for the platform they are on. Sizes and viewable areas are important across multiple devices. Check this guide to make sure you’re ready.
  • Descriptions: A few of the key social media platforms give you limited space, so be concise.
  • Links: Make sure all the links in your profile (to your company or content) are current.
  • Company name, address, and phone number: Make sure they are all current and consistent with what’s on your website.

Content Wrangling

Take inventory of the content you’ve been sharing, and note the posts, tweets, and shares revolving around each item. Here are the areas that you should be focused on while doing so:

  • Goal of the content: What goal is this content created to achieve? How well is it working?
  • Engagement: How many people are interacting with the content? This means people who shared it, commented on it, or clicked on any associated links. This can help you identify the content that performs well, going beyond approval (e.g. likes) to engagement.
  • Impressions: How many people have viewed it?
  • Relevance: Is the content “evergreen,” meaning will it stay relevant to your audience for an extended period of time (potentially forever)? The posts you’re sharing should be using up-to-date data, and should be addressing problems and topics that are top-of-mind for your prospects.
  • Conversions: This might take a bit more searching to uncover, but with the right technology to deliver attribution insights, you can see which content is leading to real dollars for your company.

Competition Analysis

It’s critical to know what your competition is doing in your space, and how you stack up to them on social media. Take a close look at their profiles the same way that you are reviewing yours, and document their changes as well.

I won’t get into too much detail here, but there are a ton of great resources and services out there to help you analyze your competition. Here are a few to check out:

Look for weak spots and opportunities to outperform your competition.

It’s Not a One-Time Deal

Social media channels will change, your audience will evolve, and tastes will adapt over time to different tactics. Auditing your social media is a regular process that cannot just be completed and forgotten.

Depending on the frequency of your content creation, and the ferocity of your social media strategy, you could be auditing anywhere from one to four times per year. Much like the structure of your audit spreadsheet, there is no “right” answer when it comes to how often you should conduct your review.

Ok, Now Go For It!

Each social network has its own quirks. Check out our in-depth eBook “Conducting a Successful Social Media Audit” to get specific tactics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ so you can do a solid audit, and fine-tune your social media for the best results. Happy auditing!