Want the heads up when new stories drop? Subscribe Here
As an entrepreneur, aspiring entrepreneur, marketing professional, or just someone who’s highly active online, I bet you know a lot about social media already.
Like, what content to share on different platforms and when to do it. I’m sure you also have a good understanding of the nitty-gritty of each social media site and what kind of audience engagement to expect from them.
But as social media becomes an increasingly crucial tool for growth and driving sales, you might be asking yourself: How do I assess whether my social media strategy is working for my business?
I know, because I see managers and marketers struggling with this all the time. After all, there are so many platforms out there with different strengths and weaknesses, and rules that aren’t always easy to navigate.
So to bring some clarity to the issue, I’ve prepared the following social media audit checklist to help you analyze your efforts, spot any shortcomings, and work through resolving them.
I think you’ll find it a useful tool, but before we roll up our sleeves and get down to checking the health of your social media profiles, it’s important to discuss some of the important pitfalls when it comes to social media—penalties.
How to not get penalized on social media
When you’re marketing on different playing fields, you have to know the ground rules for each one. Break them, and your account could be penalized—that means anything from a stern warning to getting kicked right out of the park. Some of you may be thinking, Wait! I know about penalties in search, but are there any for social?
And the answer is yes. Penalties on social media platforms are generally less severe than Google’s iron fist of justice, but there are certain activities that could even lead to account termination or bans.
Although there are very few cases where your page could be deleted (Facebook is an exception here), social platforms do have their own policies, and they are quite protective of their audiences.
A social media platform could block your account permanently or temporarily. Or, if you’re posting irrelevant content, the platform may not show it to your audience and your efforts will be worthless.
Facebook is the social platform that has the most serious rules and guidelines.
Here are Facebook’s rules in a nutshell:
- Your page name should match your brand. Create an official page for your business and personal profiles for employees. You can’t use a personal profile for a brand.
- Facebook’s cover photo guidelines: no ads, no contact details, no offers, no encouragement to like and share your page.
- Be careful with giveaways and sweepstakes:
- No Facebook functionalities can be used.
- Facebook requires a disclaimer.
- You have to post official rules.
- Special rules apply to the following industries: firearms, alcohol, tobacco, adult products, online casinos, sports books, bingo or poker, prescription pharmaceuticals.
Instagram’s rules are pretty basic and similar to any other social media platform’s. They just appeal to your common sense and encourage you to treat other users as you’d like to be treated.
I have never heard of Twitter permanently banning any profile. And given the number of bots that we see there, this hardly ever happens. However, Twitter tracks the activities of all accounts, and if you exceed your limits, you’ll get temporarily blocked. This happened to us several times because of our Twitter Chats, where we sometimes post over 1,000 tweets within several hours. Twitter also disabled our “favorite” button in the past, saying, “Sorry, you’re rate’s been limited,” after we liked too many tweets during a chat. Yet, since we were doing all of this manually, our account was always restored relatively quickly.
Remember, if you’re using any third-party tools to grow your audience and add followers, don’t follow huge numbers of people too quickly. Twitter might see this as a sign of automation.
And now let’s get down to our social media audit.
The 7-Step Social Media Audit Checklist
Step #1. Identify On Which Social Networks You Have a Presence Already
A simple step for starting your audit: list all the social media profiles your company has.
Search for your brand name on Google. The most popular networks have high authority and will most likely show up on the first page of search results. But don’t stop there. Click through the next three to four pages of results to make sure there aren’t any unofficial accounts or accounts on smaller networks showing up.
Then, create a spreadsheet listing all the accounts your business operates. Make sure to separate regional and specific profiles (e.g.., support accounts on Twitter or foreign Facebook pages).
At SEMrush we operate a number of regional accounts, so I’ve created a spreadsheet that includes social networks for which we have official and regional accounts:
Step #2. Assess The Usefulness of Each Account
Next, establish if there’s a reason for you to maintain a presence on each of these networks.
Start by asking yourself why you set up each social media account in the first place. Did you do it only to secure your brand’s name or actually develop some goals?
Another way to assess the usefulness of a network is by investigating whether your target audience actually uses it. In most cases, answering those two questions will be enough to decide which networks are worth investing time in.
At SEMrush we focused on Twitter and, some time ago, on Google+ as well. Twitter is pretty much the obvious choice, given the fact that it’s one of the leading B2B (business-to-business) social networks. On top of that, it was very easy to track mentions of our branded keywords and connect with our audience directly.
Our other choice might surprise some people. We were very active on Google+ a while ago. Why? Because our audience consists of marketing professionals and marketing experts, and these people are early adopters and are always eager to discover something new. Google+ may be useless for most e-commerce businesses and may look like a giant online meetup for marketing professionals, but at the time, it was one of the best platforms to be on. We established close connections with a lot of thought leaders back in those days.
Step #3. Check Your Social Media Profiles for Consistency
To properly represent your brand, your social media accounts should be consistent.
So pull up each profile and check if they all feature:
- The same logo, displayed in accordance with your brand guidelines
- A compelling and up-to-date description that includes keywords most relevant to what your company does
- A correct link to your website, or in the case of regional accounts, relevant local landing page.
Then, assess your brand voice.
Ask yourself if you’re using the same voice for all accounts. Or are you very formal on one network while communicating in a casual manner on another?
Even though each network requires a slightly different approach, you should still maintain a consistent brand voice throughout your entire social media presence.
Lastly, carefully consider what content you publish on each network. Do not duplicate your content on all social channels. If you’re posting the same content on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, why should I subscribe to all three accounts? When you use different networks for publishing different content, you give people a reason to follow you everywhere.
Check to see if your content is appropriate for each particular network’s purpose and audience. For instance, Twitter is ideal for quick communication with fans, sharing useful content, and responding to audience questions. Facebook followers prefer a more engaging approach from brands and don’t mind having a bit of fun. LinkedIn, however, is strictly a professional network, and you should refrain from posting any non-professional messages when publishing on the site.
Step #4. Audit Your Audiences on Each Social Network
By now you should know what social profiles you have and if they’re consistent with your brand. It’s time to make sure you’re engaging the right audience on each of those networks.
There are two ways to establish this:
• Go to Google Analytics and review your Audience report. Filter it by demographics, gender, and location. Your social media audience should match the people who visit and convert on your site.
• Open your Channels report in Analytics (go to the “Acquisition” tab, click “All Traffic” and then “Channels”) and select “Social.” You’ll see which social media channels bring you the most traffic. Most likely, these will be the ones on which you attracted the most qualified audience.
Step #5. Review Your Activities on Each Social Network
This is a crucial step in your social media audit. You need to establish whether you’re posting the right content on each social network.
In particular, pay attention to the following:
What content are you posting? Are you mostly promoting your own content or sharing other people’s posts? Are you achieving a good balance between curation and creation?
To engage social media audiences, you should maintain a healthy mix between curating content and promoting your own posts. From personal experience, I can attest that a 50/50 split between curation and creation works best to engage an audience. Nobody likes people who only talk about themselves, so give due credit to others who write in-depth posts, craft compelling infographics, and conduct thorough research.
What types of content do you post? Are you posting mostly links to other content? Does your content include images? Are you mainly focusing on one particular type of content? Vary your content to determine what works best.
How often do you post? Naturally, there is no ideal social media posting schedule. What works for one audience might not work for another. In general, however, you should post at least eight to ten times a day on Twitter, two to three times a day on Facebook, twice a day on Linkedin and Google+, and once a day on Instagram.
So assess how often you should publish content to each of your accounts.
At SEMrush we’re probably a bit more active on social media than our competitors. Having said that, since about 70% of our content is curated, our audience doesn’t seem to mind receiving some additional recommendations from us.
Step #6. Analyze Audience Engagement
This is a hugely important part of the auditing process. Analyzing audience engagement will tell you if your social media efforts are delivering any meaningful results.
Avinash Kaushik recommends that you do this by assessing your social media strategy using four metrics:
First, you need to establish whether what you’re posting or saying on social media connects with your audience. Kaushik recommends a super simple formula to calculate this:
Conversation Rate = No. of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
A high conversion rate means that the content you are publishing on a particular social network is engaging your audience. A low conversion rate might suggest that you don’t understand your audience’s needs and are failing to deliver the information they’re seeking.
Measuring the your content’s amplification helps you to establish the rate at which your followers are promoting your content to their fans and followers.
Your amplification rate is simply the number of retweets and shares your content receives depending on the network on which it was posted (e.g., RTs on Twitter or shares on Facebook).
This metric indicates what content your audience likes. You can measure your applause rate by the number of likes or favorites per post (again, this metric depends on the network on which you posted your content). On Twitter, you should measure how many people favorited it. Measure likes for Facebook and +1s on Google+.
Finally, you should also assess how your social media strategy affects your bottom line.
Naturally, you can’t measure the entire value of your social media presence. But you can quantify some of it by measuring the impact of certain actions, like how many people visit your page or take advantage of a content offer.
For more explanation on this process, check out this post by Avinash.
Step #7. Audit Your Competition
Lastly, perform competitive analysis and compare your efforts with what your competition is doing.
Pay particular attention to:
- Networks they build a presence on
- How they present themselves (assess their business bios, profiles, and where they link from their social media profiles)
- What audiences they attract
- How active they are on each network
- What level of authority they have
- What content they post
- Their original vs. curated content ratio
- How much original content they post
- When and how often they post
- Whether they have any influential followers
In short, assess their efforts using the same criteria you would use to audit your own social media accounts. Also, analyze their number of fans and followers, their posting frequency, what types of content they share and the level of engagement they receive.
Conducting competitive intelligence will help you gain perspective on your own efforts, establish how you stack up against companies you’re competing with, and discover new opportunities to improve your strategy.
And that’s it!
By following the steps outlined in my checklist, you should gain a good understanding of how well your strategy has worked for you so far and what you might need to improve upon going forward.
Got any other tips for crushing it on social media? Let us know in the comments.