The better informed your brand is, the better prepared you are to strategize, mitigate risk and manage a crisis. Consumers are using social media to research brands in record numbers, and social media platforms are adding hordes of new users to their ranks daily. That means that your social media presence will often be the first impression of your brand that the consumer sees. Additionally, social media is your brand’s best bet in listening to the voice of the customer (VoC). So, it’s more important than ever to get a handle on where you stand.
To understand and quantify your brand’s success online, a social media audit is just the ticket. To that end, we’ll take a look at the following to help you run a social media audit that works:
- What is a social media audit?
- 10 Tips for social media audit success
Before we dive in, here are a few social media stats we uncovered that are relevant to the conversation:
- For 90% of companies and institutions, building brand awareness is the main goal with social media, followed by reputation management at 77%.
- 73% of social media marketers believe in the effectiveness of social media marketing. In comparison, 19% are unsure due to difficulties in measuring social media ROI.
- A recent Statista survey revealed that only 10% of UK users found social media ads to be somewhat or very trustworthy. That number is marginally better at 19% for U.S. social media users.
With that, let’s look at what an audit is and how you should approach your next one.
What is a Social Media Audit?
A social media audit aggregates your cross-platform social media performance for a snapshot in time of indicators that tell how your brand is performing online. The audit can be used to measure the movement of KPIs against metrics established from a previous audit. Additionally, they are used to reveal strengths and areas that need improvement.
Most of what you’ll find when you Google a social media audit are tips for exploring site-specific metrics. That is super important, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Social listening allows you to take your social media audit to the next level and provides metrics on net sentiment, demographics, psychographic intel, influencer engagement, purchase funnel, geo regions, brand passion and many more.
A social media audit of this caliber goes far beyond your Instagram performance and gives you hard data on brand health metrics. You’ll end up with a holistic view of how your brand sits in the social media landscape. As you adjust your strategies to target pain points or capitalize on your strong suits, your social media audit will serve as a reference point to help measure your performance and social media ROI.
Simply put, a social media audit takes the metrics that matter to you and assigns them a value. Social listening powered by your data analytics tools expands the metrics you can monitor exponentially.
For example, here are some themes measured by social media sentiment for a major soft drink brand that could be used as a reference point for social media effectiveness in areas they intend to target.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, the sky is the limit in how you can parse your social media data for insights specific to your brand. Compiling these for a snapshot in time tells your brand story at a glance so you can give your decision-makers everything they need to know.
Let’s look at a few tips to keep in mind on your next social media audit!
10 Tips for Social Media Audit Success
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just getting started, we’ve put together a list of social media audit tools to get you going. We even have a free NetBase Quid Social Media Audit Template available for download. That said, let’s look at a few tips that will take your audit game to the next level.
1. Let the Data Be Your Guide
Before you get started, it’s critical to confront your bias. We are all capable of it, so putting effort towards setting aside your hopes and expectations will go a long way in getting a clear picture. Social media is subjective by nature, but hard data in mentions, engagement, sentiment, etc., lends the objectivity you’re after. Follow your data where it leads, and let the numbers tell the story.
When you revisit your social media audit in the future to compare new data against it, you need your dataset to be complete, clean and trustworthy. Sometimes the numbers hurt, but the quickest path to fixing a pain point is acknowledging that it exists.
2. Create a Complete Audit
If you’re just starting out, start with the basics and build-out, so there is structure to your social media audit. Identify your target metrics across your social channels and put those into your spreadsheet. Using your social analytics tools, determine the baseline metrics that are most pressing for your brand. Tackle them in chunks in order of importance, adding them to your spreadsheet as you go.
Social listening tools allow you to get comprehensive, and the farther you go with it, the better. Since the nature of markets are unpredictable, you never know how valuable the tiniest metrics can be to your brand down the road. Start small and build big, so you have the most pixels in your social media snapshot.
3. If You Can’t Quantify It, Should You Do It?
Social listening tools offer the ability to quantify a staggering number of metrics. But if what you’re trying to measure is so niche, or subjective that you can’t get an accurate reading on it, then move on. There comes a time for every data analyst that you realize that you’re trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. Remember, your first goal is your brand health as it relates to social media standing. If what you are trying to quantify is challenging to measure, it’s most likely to offer diminishing returns for your time investment. Get the big picture done first – you can always come back.
4. Identify Redundancies
Depending on your Martech Stack, redundancy in your data could be an issue within your social media audit. Avoid redundancy wherever possible and annotate it when it’s unavoidable. This is critical since you always want to keep future auditors and measurements in mind when compiling your data. Accuracy is paramount as a polluted data set offers little in the way of real value. And that carries over into each individual tool you use as well. If all those reposts aren’t serving you, cut them out. Get to the heart of the data that’s informing your target metrics and aggressively trim the fat.
5. Most Brands Misunderstand Consumers
Most brands struggle with consumer intelligence and turn to social listening tools to solve the mystery. It’s not terribly hard to understand why since consumer habits and emotions are ever-changing. Ensure that your audit mines the depths of brand conversations to find everywhere consumers are talking about your brand. If you miss some, then your accuracy suffers. Not only that, but next year you won’t know you missed some, and your measurements will be off.
Suppose you’re in the cosmetics industry. In that case, dig in and learn the main keywords people are using to talk about your brand and where those conversations are taking place. Don’t forget Reddit and Tumblr, or you’ll be missing a lot of dialogue that affects your mentions, engagement and brand health.
6. Don’t Take Surface Insight for Granted
As you uncover new data points, check in to make sure they mean what you think they do. This speaks more to the ability of your social listening tools than anything. Language is nuanced. Many words can express various concepts, so make sure your intel isn’t cluttered with off-centered meanings. If your brand sells mountain bikes, you’re after mentions of light (weight) and not scathing mentions of the Acme Lightbulb Co. Your tools should be capable of knowing the difference, but not all do. Demand clean data, and your social media audits will serve you well. This makes a world of difference when it comes to sentiment, as you can see below.
7. Audit Competitors Too
All of the things you do to aggregate your social media audit can be done on your competitors. Of course, you don’t need to get as detailed as you do on your brand audit. But again, there’s no such thing as too much competitive intelligence. The data you use to compile your social media audit is freely available for your competitors, so you should use it to your advantage. If you lack motivation here, just remember your competition is probably auditing you.
8. Perform Audits Regularly
A social media audit isn’t a one-and-done kind of deal – consistency is vital. Performing new audits quarterly or seasonally will help set spotlights on critical times throughout the year. Once a year is a bare minimum, and twice-yearly is better. The frequency will have a lot to do with your category. CPG brands might want an audit before and after the holiday season, for example. In contrast, an educational software developer may wish to center theirs around the school year. The ability to track your social media health across time is invaluable, so ensure your audits are set for strategic intervals.
9. Update Alerts
Since your social media audit will reveal the territory you’ve covered since your last one, make sure to adjust your alerts accordingly. If your net sentiment in an area has improved dramatically, leaving your alerts set too low allows the conversation to go on too long before you’re alerted to it. It’s also a good idea to keep a running tally of the alerts you have set to ensure that you revisit them when it comes time to perform your next audit. Adjust the percentage of movement on your triggered alerts, especially if you see a big difference in social media traction. When your alerts are on point, you’ll sleep easier knowing you’re covered.
10. Use Data Visualizations to Your Advantage
Depending on the scope of your social media audit, you could end up with a vast amount of data. It’s imperative that you convey your findings with precision and in an easily digestible manner. Taking the time to compile data visualizations shows depth, breadth, and movement. It ensures you deliver your findings with maximum impact. Quite simply, data visualizations are the most effective way to share your results with your decision-makers. And you’ll be doing yourself a favor next year when you come back to it to track changes.
That said, anytime is a great time to recalibrate your brand metrics with a fresh social media audit. And if you’ve never done one before, keep in mind that you can use historical social media data to build one for previous periods. This adds depth to your current audit with the added benefit of tracking changes over time.
Is your brand due for a new social media audit? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how next-generation artificial intelligence can open the door to a whole new world of brand metrics.