You Spend a Ton on Social Media. Want to Find Out if It’s Working?

Nearly three-quarters of small businesses invest in Facebook ads or other types of social media — in fact, they rely more on social media than any other form of marketing. But do you know what bang you’re getting for your social buck? Can you pinpoint which social media channels work for you, and where your content is falling on uninterested eyeballs?

If not, it’s time for a social media audit. While the word can conjure images of accountants and the IRS, a social media audit is a straightforward exercise that allows you to determine which of your social networks is delivering high-quality traffic, which aren’t generating results and what to do next.

Where Do You Start?

Simply Measured, an analytics company, produced a handy report called Spring Cleaning: Perform Your Own Social Media Audit, that says you should begin by making an inventory of every social channel you use. For each platform determine:

  • Is your brand active (you consistently engage – producing and responding to content), reactive (you typically only respond when someone engages with your brand) or inactive(you don’t really engage on your social channels at all)?What’s your URL?
  • What’s your profile handle?
  • Who has administrative access and what’s the login?
  • Who has posting access/ownership?
  • Does the profile use ads?
  • Who is your ads administrator?
  • What is the login?

Don’t focus only on the biggest channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) or assume you know all your social channels, says George Schildge, founder and CEO of the Matrix Marketing Group. An employee who left long ago might have set up a YouTube channel you don’t know about.  With this in mind, you can use tools like Namechk and Knowem to find every one of your channels.

What’s the Impact?

After cataloging all your social channels, the next thing you need to determine is the impact each channel has within your business. Tanya Korpi Macleod, president and CEO of The Holistic Marketing Agency, says to examine how engaged people are on your channels:

  • How many followers on each?
  • What kind of posting cadence gets the most interaction?
  • What kind of posts get the most interaction?
  • Who’s engaging/interacting with those posts?

Ingrid Kibler, director of social media at HCK2 Partners, also suggests you examine platform features. For example, is your Facebook’s “About” section complete? Are hashtags used strategically in tweets? Does your YouTube channel showcase a featured video?

Once you’ve answered these questions, evaluate each profile carefully and determine if it is meshes with your business objectives for the channel. “At the top-of-the-funnel is where you use social media,” Schildge says. “The objective here is to capture the user’s e-mail on your website by using a sign-up form, gated content, or a special offer.”

What’s the Competition Up to?

Macleod says you should check your social strategy against competitors using free tools like the aptly named spyfu. In addition to comparing metrics to your own channels, determine:

  • Do their posts look professional?
  • Are they posted at regular times, suggesting they have a dedicated employee or an agency?
  • Do they have shortened links, like bitly? If they say something like hub.ly, they could be using expensive marketing automation software, suggesting they have a social budget, team or agency.
  • Is the content they post original or curated, or both? Lots of original content suggests a budget.
  • Are they running ads?

“Copying someone else’s strategy or plan means you have to copy every element of it,” Macleod says. “If you say, ‘They’re on Facebook, so I will be too,’ but you don’t put the energy or advertising or effort behind it, you’ll be disappointed. The channel is important, but it’s way more about what you do with it. And if you’re not going to do anything with it? Don’t bother. ”

What’s the Next Step?

After determining your own social media results and seeing what your competitors are up to, you can hatch a plan for moving forward. Furthermore, the findings of your social media audit should guide your social plan, including:

  • Who creates the content for each social channel?
  • Who posts the content?
  • How often should you post on each channel?
  • What posting rules do you need to ensure your company “voice” is maintained.

Schildge says, “Use the 80/20 rule for social media. Share valuable content, ask questions, help people out, and 20 percent of the time you can do promotions.” If you use an audit to get your social media in shape, you can get a big payoff. As Schildge says, “Businesses with over 1000 Facebook fans had 22 times more traffic. Conversely, businesses with over 1000 Facebook fans had 12 times more leads.”

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