Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2014? It seems like a minute ago we were planning for a long Summer and now, here we are, well in the midst of FY2015 planning.
Arguably the hardest time to plan for the new year is toward the end of the year before. It’s the holidays, people are out, people are sick (crossing fingers!), and budgets are like mythical creatures looking for confirmation they exist.
With all that, the question quickly turns to, “How can you make a lull period a super productive period?” Our recommendation: A Social Media Audit. We specifically recommend taking this time to do a little dirty work for the greater good of your social strategy.
We see far too many brands moving forward with fresh social campaigns that are grounded in nothing more than their own experiences OR (and arguably worse) their campaigns are exact replicas of a competitor’s strategy. And while it’s exciting to embark on anything new in the digital space, often the post-campaign reports that correspond with these efforts are less than scientific:
“We got more followers!”
“People really liked what we did!”
The key to making a social media audit an effective use of your marketing budget is to make it useful and actionable. So many times we see companies develop audits but then never do anything with the results from the audit itself. That may satisfy someone’s curiosity, but it won’t do much more.
So, if you want a report with actionable insights and a strategy grounded in research that really resonates with your audience, you need to do a social media audit right.
To ensure success, the components of an audit should vary slightly based on your own 2015 goals, but there are 7 elements that make for a truly actionable social media audit:
- Identify Competitors – This step may seem obvious, but while you may already have a good perspective as to who your competitors are, they may vary a bit in the digital space. We like to use a little SEO mastery to discover which companies are leveraging the same search keywords as our clients and include any of the top players as a part of our audit.
- Examine and Rank Competitors’ Social Media Efforts – The best way to inform this section of your audit is to do a little research into the social networks that are most relevant for your target audience. These habits will help inform a score card approach to guide your competitor analysis. Basically, it allows you to create a weighted scale (giving more weight to the social networks used most often by our client’s target audience), and score a company and their competitors across each network. In addition to baseline ratings to give you a first and last place for each network and overall, this section should include anecdotal information on how each competitor is approaching each particular network, how often they’re posting and what they’re posting about.
- Analyze Social Media Landscape as a Whole – Compare your brand to what we refer to as the “landscape average,” meaning the average amount of followers, posts or engagement experienced across all of your competitors. This will tell you how your follower counts, post cadence and engagement rates line up.
- Evaluate Top Content – Determine which content receives the highest engagement rates across the board and which content resonates most often with the entire landscape of followers.
- Analyze Audience Engagement & Influencers – Audits should include a high level glimpse at the types of followers each competitor has individually, as well as a
holistic view of the types of followers and influencers that exist across the entire landscape. Often, we like to perform a “follower overlap analysis” to determine how similar our client’s followers are to their competitors’ followers.
- Provide Insight Into Competitors’ Social/Content Strategy – A really excellent audit always includes a little background into competitor strategies. Basically, based on what they’re posting on each channel, what can we surmise is their overall approach?
- Provide Opportunity & Gap Analysis – Finally, what does all of this mean? The part of the social media audit that makes it truly actionable are the insights and intuitions drawn from all of the data. Where are there gaps left by competitors in terms of thought leadership and customer service that your brand can fill? Where are your opportunities to improve? Take this section and run with your social strategy.
Together, these seven components will help arm your team with the information it needs to develop a social strategy for the coming year – or even just the next quarter. And this also serves as a nice benchmark report to draw comparisons over time and to discover how your brand is improving (hopefully!) versus the rate at which your competitors might be improving.
Now, go forth and audit. And, of course, if you’re interested, we can help!