Conduct a social media audit in 4 easy steps

You’ve been chugging along on your social media strategy for the past year or so, but is it working? Follow this simple, four-step process to find out.

If you’re reading this article, chances are you work in PR or marketing.

You probably helped your client or company get started with social media about two to four years ago. Now it’s 2013. You’ve been at it for a while now, building momentum and measuring results.

But have you stopped to track your progress lately?

Do you know how you measure up against your competitors? Have the fans in your social media communities changed their expectations or needs since you started? Are you still using the right social networks and tools?

These are all good questions that you would ask yourself during what I like to call a mid-term social media audit. It’s something every company can do with just a little effort and money.

There are many ways to go about conducting a mid-term social media audit, but here is my recommended course of action:

1. Poll your Facebook community.

You could do this once a year, but it’s a great tactic for a mid-term audit. Keep your question list fairly tight—maybe 10 to 15 questions. Use a few of those questions to mine demographic information that you can’t get from Facebook Insights (household income, for example).

The rest should be strategic questions that would help inform your marketing decisions down the road. These questions could be about what fans want to hear from you on Facebook, or they could be more aligned with specific marketing programs you’re running.

Use a simple tool like SurveyMonkey to organize the survey, and let it run for one to two weeks maximum. Share the survey on Facebook, and be sure to promote it each time so you can ensure as many of fans as possible will see it.

Finally, give folks a reason to take the survey, like a product/service giveaway of some sort (preferably one connected to your brand). And voila! You’ll have a slew of great data from one of your best social media communities on which to make key future decisions.

2. Audit your social media channels.

Take a closer look at your accounts. Have some fallen into disrepair? You may have some open accounts that you forgot about.

Take a close look at metrics (fan counts, reach, etc.) and compare them with where you were one or two years ago. This benchmarking, unless you’re doing it already, will give you a good idea of how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished over the last few years. It also gives you good fodder to merchandise with your boss and senior executives.

3. Audit your competitors and identify their weaknesses.

This is one of those things I would think most companies would do, but I’m guessing very few do.

Take a look at your primary and secondary competitors (for most brands, there are probably four to eight). Look at every social media account they own. Provide thoughtful analysis on what they do well and what they could do better.

Then, create a grid you can use with others outside your department to show how your company stacks up against these competitors in terms of social media. This will give these folks a clear, instant picture of what your competitive set looks like in the social media realm.

Again, this is great information to merchandise with senior leaders; they’re always interested in what your competitors are up to from a marketing/business perspective.

4. Compare listening reports.

If you use a paid listening service, search for a short list of keywords that are important to you, and compare it with what you saw one or two years ago. Note the differences.

Are your customers talking about you differently? Are they using different language? Has your customer demographic changed at all? Are there surprises you’ve found over the last two years in how your customers are talking about you? Note all these items and document them. They’ll come in handy as you think about strategy in the months and years ahead.

Is there anything you would add to a mid-term social media audit process?

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications in Minneapolis. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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