7 step social media audit: how to understand your social media activity

For many organisations being active on social media is a comms and engagement activity which has grown organically and is part of the daily to-do rather than something which gets a lot of strategic attention. And if your efforts are paying off, that’s great – but sometimes you need to stop and look around to make sure your effort is in the right place, in the right way and is helping you reach your outcomes.

By giving 30 minutes to look at your social media you can create a basic audit and understand what actions you need to take in just seven sessions. This post gives you an overview of the steps and what you’ll need to capture in each one but if folk are interested I’ll blog each step in more detail with examples of the outputs – leave me a comment below or catch me on Twitter to let me know if this would be useful to you.

Your seven step social media audit

Session 1 – Know your objectives

The first 30 minutes you’re going to spend on this audit aren’t about social media at all. They’re about your organisational objectives, and your comms objectives. Hopefully these are clear and available to you (great! You might not need the full 30 minutes) but in some organisations you’ll find the strategic direction is less visible, or in some cases is very changeable or vague.

Whether you are clear or not it’s important to spend some time capturing this information or having conversations with others in your organisation about it as it sets the scene for everything you’re going to look for in this audit (it’s your WHY) and what you put in your plan at the end. Set out what you’re aiming for, why, and how you’re going to know you’ve achieved it and keep this in mind throughout the next steps.

Session 2 – Map Your Social Media

In this 30 minute social media audit session you should create a spreadsheet detailing the social media profiles for your organisation. Make sure you look beyond the core corporate accounts on the main networks and search out any profiles run directly by departments or which have been abandoned over time / because a project ended.

It’s also worth noting any individual accounts which are speaking on behalf of your organisation (your CEO’s Twitter account for example) and any political accounts you may not have your hand on but which relate to your organisation.

Make sure you capture the profile name, the platform (eg Facebook), the URL, and the top-line stats (followers, likes) as well as who is running it (if you know) and how often it is being posted to. You may want to look at whether it uses your correct branding and has a completed profile information too.

Not finished and the 30 minutes is up? Don’t worry – as long as you’ve got the key accounts you’re spending the majority of your time managing you’re good to go. If you want an exhaustive list and you’re not quite sure you’re there then add in another 30-minute session to carry on.

Session 3 – Map the Environment

In this 30 minute social media audit session you should expand your search to capture useful social media profiles in your area. This could be geographic, or communities of interest but they’re places where people you may want to reach are already hanging out.

Make sure you don’t just look for Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages but also search for Facebook Groups, Mumsnet chats, YouTube vids or Reddit threads – it all depends on what is relevant to you. For larger organisations you may want to capture some top level profiles and then think about doing a deeper dive later on to look for relevant conversations to specific services (so, you might want to capture the ‘Spotted Townsville’ Facebook Group in this audit, but a deeper dive for Libraries might lead you to capture ‘Townsville Book Swap’. You’ll also want to take a look at LinkedIn Groups, hashtags across Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and events like Twitter Chats.

Just like with the look at your own profiles make sure keep a spreadsheet (I suggest a new tab in the one you’ve already started) to capture profile name, platform, URL, top line stats, and any info on who is running the account.

In 30 minutes you’re unlikely to map everything in your area but you should get a good start and enough of a feel of what’s around you to carry on with the audit. If you want to create a more exhaustive list of competitors, allies and profiles of relevance then add in another block of 30 minutes to carry on with the work.

Session 4 – Understand Your Audience

This 30 minute social media audit session is about understanding your audience and putting this in the context of social network demographics. You’ll probably already have an idea about who your customer / citizen is (and no, it isn’t ‘everyone’) but for larger organisations like a council you may want to create a couple of different personas linked to different areas of service, or for an eCommerce business different personas for different product types.

This is also where we start to delve into the data around the profiles you’re running and have captured in session two. At this stage it’s good to capture anything you know about your audience – age, gender, location, eduction level, affluence, digital usage, accessibility needs and also anything you might know about their mindset around your service or product.

The example I always used in local government for this was the difference in mindset between someone thinking about adoption or fostering, and someone looking for car park charges at the country park.

In the first case – adoption and fostering – the person may be feeling nervous, may have a lot of questions, may not be ready to talk to anyone and may have a lot of emotions about what has led them toward adoption and fostering. The are likely to be incredibly focused on the task and not open to ‘cross-selling’ or interested in general organisational news.

In the second – country park – the person is likely to be more relaxed (although also likely distracted if they have kids or an excited dog wanting to get out in that country park around them) and getting them the key information fast means they may be more open to other information, for example an event that’s coming up at the country park for families, info about a hashtag to use on Insta to share pics of your walk.

In both cases it’s important to think about the typical attributes of these people – not just their demographic information, but their emotions at the time you’ll cross their path on social media, and their personality type. Not everyone in an age bracket is the same – so try and refine to know who you’re talking with online.

Session 5 – Understand who is where online

Once you’ve got this – match it with the overall demographics for each social media platform. There’s a good resource here where you can get the headline stats.

To refine this take a look at the stats for any of the profiles you have running. For a Facebook Page, for example, you’ll find information on the average age of people who’ve Liked or interacted with your posts, as well as gender, location and deeper information about what time of day you get the best results. Don’t just look at social media profiles but look at any stats you can get along these lines for your website, service users, customers etc.

There is a huge amount of data out there and it’s hard not to get sucked down into the swamp and lose sight of what is useful and what is just interesting. To help with this keep in mind your objectives from session one, but also the customer personas from session four. Where we want to be is with a clear picture of who you’re talking to and where you should be talking to them online.

Going back to the adoption and fostering example – if you know most adoption enquiries comes from women, aged 28-40, single, career-minded, home-owners (and I’m making up this example – it might not be accurate at all!) and you also know that the majority of Facebook users are women aged 30-55 you can see there is a cross-over here and an opportunity to reach the right people. It’s less likely you’ll reach your target audience through Snapchat, in this example, where the audience is much younger.

Build the right picture of people in your audience, and then match to the most relevant places online.

Session 6 – Understand Your Activity and Performance

The previous two steps have hopefully shown you’re already on the right platforms for your audience but whether you need to adjust course or not it’s time to look at how content is performing for you.

You’ll be going back into the data swamp for this session and looking at your performance on your existing profiles. Each platform gives a slightly different set of stats but there is a key measurement you’ll want to look for on each: engagement rate.

By all means capture the number of followers / Likes you have, and the number of posts you’ve made, but to really start to understand how you’re doing you need to look at this engagement rate figure. This shows you out of your total followers how many are interacting with what you do.

It’s useful here to get some context too – engagement rates are falling sharply across all social media so you’ll need to look at how you compare. This report gives you up to date information for 2019 on engagement rates across key platforms by industry.

Session 7 – Create an Audit Report and Plan

In this final 30 minute session you want to bring together everything you’ve learned and turn that data into actionable insight. Open up a Doc and create headings from the sessions you’ve undertaken and capture the headline results beneath each one. If you’ve got longer to spend you can think about how to visualise some of these results but for now, just making sense of the data is the key thing.

If you can see you’re on the wrong platforms for the people you’re trying to reach, you need to consider where you would be better placed. If you can see you’re on the right platform but you’re not reaching or successfully engaging with people, you need to consider whether your content is right or what you could do differently. If you can see you’re in the right place and what you do is getting results but you aren’t consistent so you’re treading water rather than building, you need to consider priorities and resourcing.

Doing an fast audit allows you to quickly understand whether what you’re putting your effort into now is paying off with your audience, and also look for ways to optimise what you do as well as understanding why.

If you’ve got more time to spend on auditing you can get deeper into the mapping by looking at who your micro influencers are, exploring paid social media (advertising), and looking at customer journeys onward from social media through your website or app. But if you only have a limited amount of time and you’re worried you have too many social accounts or you aren’t getting the most from the effort you put into them this quick audit will give you an indication of where to focus for best results.

Need a hand?

If you need a hand with a social media audit, strategy or with anything else content or communications do get in touch to see how I can support you. Want to see who I’ve worked with recently? You can find them here

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