Why A Social Media Audit Is a Smart Content Marketing Investment

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Can you guarantee your organization is driving the most value possible from social media? Of course, you can’t! 

Every organization has some room for improvement. In particular, many teams aren’t regularly making time for one of the easiest ways to fine-tune their social media strategy—performing a social media audit.

Why is this often overlooked activity so important? Because it’s a structured process that helps you examine what you’ve been doing, how it’s working as compared to your competitive benchmarks, and what opportunities you’re missing.

If you haven’t conducted a social media audit before, are looking for tips for conducting an effective one, or need to justify to your executives why it’s worth the investment, let’s examine the when and why of social media auditing. 

Start with a Documented Social Media Plan

First things first: Your organization needs a documented social media plan to give your social media audit context.

When teams don’t have a documented social media plan (or a marketing plan, for that matter), they’re engaging in random acts of content. And random acts of content won’t drive ROI or the consistent value your community is looking for. 

There’s no way to know if your efforts are successful unless you understand what your brand is trying to achieve on social media. Without a goal and plan, teams waste a lot of their resources, time, and money, without moving their business forward. 

When to Conduct a Social Media Audit

Once you have your documented plan in place, you’re ready to audit. I recommend teams conduct a full social media audit once a year, ideally before doing their annual marketing planning and budgeting.

What’s a Full Social Media Audit?

A full social media audit assesses every social media channel associated with the brand or organization, including active and inactive channels. Although many organizations have largely abandoned the site formerly known as Twitter, for example, it could still provide valuable insights.

My team uses this annual social media audit spreadsheet, which examines these areas for each account:

  • Follower count 
  • Posting frequency
  • Top performing content
  • Competitor learnings by channel

A full social media audit should also include your company executives and their social profiles. Company executives can play a major role in amplifying company content and lending their thought leadership to engage your shared communities in meaningful conversations. 

Too often, executives ignore their social channels—or forget about them entirely—and have profiles that don’t reflect their current role or the company’s current branding. The annual audit process helps you identify and quickly resolve these issues. 

Does a Social Audit Include Competitors?

Your social media content does not exist in a vacuum. Your audiences also engage with your competitors or coopetition (or, content frenemies). That’s why I encourage clients to look at other brands that talk about the same topics or address the same people to learn how to improve your social strategy (or reinforce that you’re staying ahead of the curve).

List your primary competitors as well as industry partners in the audit spreadsheet. Ask yourself:

  • What do their social channels look like?
  • Are they thriving on channels where you don’t have a presence? 
  • Do they fall short in areas where you excel?

Competitor channels can also help you improve your low-performing content. For example, if you did a seasonal campaign that failed to drive engagement, you can see what your competitors did in that same timeframe and what results they achieved. 

Quarterly Social Audit Measurement

Quarterly audit updates complement the annual audit to ensure you’re on track toward your goals. These audits are smaller, too, making them an easier lift. A quarterly audit is helpful for:

  • Benchmarking your success alongside competitors
  • Identifying new content channels
  • Differentiating your content from other brands
  • Finding industry thought leaders you can consider partnering with
  • Seeing what’s resonating with your community 
  • Deciding which channel(s) are most worth your attention

10 Common Social Media Mistakes Audits Uncover

What I love about social media audits is they help you continually assess your progress and uncover new ways to engage your communities.

After helping dozens of companies review their social media strategies, I’ve compiled a short list of the most common mistakes and opportunities. Start your audit by asking if your brand is:

  • Prioritizing channels that don’t help you reach your goals
  • Presenting inconsistent brand information across channels
  • Abandoning channels without directing users to active channels
  • Failing to give the content strategy a chance to succeed by changing course too soon
  • Looking at the wrong metrics for the type of content you’re creating and the goals you’ve set
  • Posting the exact same content across all social channels at the same time
  • Sharing only company-centric news and updates
  • Neglecting the “what’s in it for me” for customers
  • Posting long chunks of text so content isn’t skimmable
  • Ignoring hashtags (or using way too many)

How a Social Audit Strengthens Your Content Marketing Strategy

An effective audit helps you shift your budget away from activities that aren’t working and toward better opportunities. The audit can also show what content types perform the best on each channel. 

One of my favorite strategies is to look at the top 10 posts on each channel. What made those posts resonate with the community? Was it a specific image? Did the post mention a client? Or did you link to an earned news article? If you struggle to identify their commonalities, consider asking an AI tool like ChatGPT for help.

How Social Listening Complements Your Social Audit

In addition to your regular social media audits, ongoing social listening keeps you updated on the conversations your community has online.

Social listening helps you identify brand-relevant conversations, even if your account isn’t directly tagged or @ mentioned. Social listening tools also show you what people are saying about your competitors, which could offer you valuable insights into how to stand out and improve on their shortcomings.

Importantly, social audits and social listening help you learn what topics interest your community and offer hints about how you can engage them online. Check out this #ContentChat recap for a full breakdown of how social listening can improve your content marketing strategy

Presenting Your Social Media Audit Findings to Executives

Of course, you’ll need to distill your audit findings in a way that resonates with your executives and justifies your new social media strategy. 

A presentation deck is often the most effective way to present your social audit findings. Create a high-level presentation that has graphs and examples that showcase your results and demonstrate what content has performed best on your channels.

Lean into showing screen captures of successful competitor content in your deck, too, as third-party validation of your recommendations. Sometimes it takes a little bit of FOMO to encourage your leadership team to embrace meaningful change in your social media activities.

The deck should include a prescriptive recommendations slide on what you propose the brand change with its strategy. A one-page overview sheet is also effective as a follow-up, explaining what you learned, how you’ll apply your learnings, and the results you expect from your altered strategy. 

Curb your urge to make the presentation deck too comprehensive though. If you provide more detail than you need, people will have more opportunities to find something they don’t like—cue the “we tried that once, and it didn’t work” comments—or poke holes in your strategy.

Social Media Audit Resources

If you’re ready to maximize your social media channels, our free social media audit spreadsheet is a perfect foundation for getting started.

Need some help and an outside perspective to drive change? Our team loves to partner with organizations to provide an objective third-party review of their social channels and create a plan to improve their efforts. If you’d like to discuss how we can help audit and refine your social media strategy, reach out to us today

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