How about the key to unlocking brilliant content strategies and a fount of information for content planning?
When we talk about audits, often we mean website audits – logging, describing and evaluating pages on a website. But there’s another type of audit that’s equally important for the planning and creating of great content – the social media audit.
Social media audits are crucial to finding and creating the content that your audience finds relevant, useful and entertaining. I’m going to tell you how to do a social media audit, why you should do it and what it’ll mean for your business.
Start with these questions
Social media audits create a foundation for future content creation, allowing you to build best practices that work for your brand. Auditing your work helps you move towards a process of constant improvement.
Essentially, a social media audit will allow you to discover whether the content across all social channels is effective and meets the audience and brand needs. It will also help you identify opportunities to create more engagement now and in the future.
Before you start a social media audit you need to ask some important questions.
- What is the aim of this audit?
- How are you going to measure the success of the content?
- How much content should you look at?
How deep do you go?
The first question should be relatively simple to answer. Focus your audit by setting a goal or a range of goals. Are you looking to push people towards products or other content on your site? Are you trying to build a community within your social channels? Are you looking to move away from gathering likes and follows and instead trying to encourage more meaningful interactions like shares and comments?
Once you’ve got your goal, it’s about setting parameters. Like a website audit, doing a social media audit can be a bit like falling down a rabbit hole. Not the shallow ones where you risk breaking an ankle on a country walk – more the Alice in Wonderland take-me-to-a-whole-new-and-unfamiliar-world type rabbit hole. The more channels you have and the more competitors you want to analyse, the deeper the hole goes.
Be realistic. How much budget and time do you have to do the audit? Set strict cut-off points for how far back you go. Looking at a year’s worth of content is a good start, if your budgets and time are limited.
When you’ve set your goals and your audit parameters, there’s just one more thing you need to do before you start – build personas. If you have detailed personas based on genuine data, then you’re good to go. If not, build them.
If you don’t know who your audience is, how will you know what they need or whether your content is right for them? We use tools like Affinio and GlobalWebIndex to help us build or flesh out detailed personas that are rooted in data. This makes it easy to tell whether the content is right for the audience, while also giving us an idea of where the opportunities are.
What to analyse
Next comes analysing the posts on each channel. Nothing beats human judgement for this. It’s a big task, especially if you publish on multiple channels. Looking at the content – searching for things done well and missed opportunities – is invaluable. The kinds of things you should be analysing are:
- Tone of voice – is the content using the right tone for the audience and the channel? (This should be referenced against a company style guide – if you don’t have one, consider creating one.)
- Best practice – is the content adhering to social media best practices?
- Type of content – are you using video and images in the best possible way?
- Format – is the format of the content right for the channel?
- Messages – what kind of messages are you publishing? Is it product content, company news, content created to entertain? Are you making lots of statements, or are you asking questions and engaging your audience?
- Calls to action – what kinds of things are you asking your audience to do? How are you asking them?
- Paid – what kind of paid support are you giving your organic content? What does the content look like in the ads? Is it effective?
- Awareness, action and advocacy – is the content generating healthy reach and impressions? Is it effectively compelling people to take an action, such as clicking a link or leaving a comment? And is it driving those oh-so-important shares and advocacy?
- Competitors – how well are your competitors doing all of the above points?
Human judgement is essential – but so is data. It’s crucial that the qualitative review of the content is backed by quantitative data from Google Analytics and any supporting native analytics. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all have on-platform analytical data you can mine to analyse content performance. Platforms like Instagram and Tumblr don’t. For those channels you’ll need to find third-party tools.
When you’re going through the quantitative analysis, it’s important to focus on the good and the bad – for both organic and paid content. Don’t just analyse what’s not working. Look at what’s going well and find out why it’s going well. Can it be done better? Is your best performing content working as well as your competitors’ best performing content?
Once you’ve completed your quantitative and qualitative analysis, you can start finding ways to feed the audit insights into content planning and creation.
The insights you’ve gained will tell you what works, what doesn’t work and what you’re not currently doing that your audience needs. Take these insights into content planning sessions and use them as a focus. Generate ideas based on the data.
The insights will also create a platform to learn more. Market benchmarks are important as a steer, but they’re not a one size fits all solution – there’s loads of information out there on the ideal times and dates to post on Facebook and Twitter, but it might not be right for your audience. Designing content experiments around your goals and discovering what works helps to move you into a cycle of constant improvement, where you’re always testing, measuring and analysing.
You can experiment with just about everything. Link placement, character count, content formats (do messages work better in videos, images or status updates), questions versus statements – the more data you can gather on what works and what doesn’t work, the more likely you are to meet your content goals over a sustained period.
And finally, you can use the data from the audit and the content experiments to start building a playbook. This should be full of best practices that work for your brand’s social channels and your audience. If you’re a part of company that’s spread across multiple countries, having a social media playbook will create a unified way of working across markets and offices, while enabling individual local market needs to be met effectively.
The playbook should never be seen as un-editable tome. It should be updated yearly to include any relevant changes in best practice and any changes in audience behaviour or brand focus.
Find out more
A social media audit is a long, heads-down process. But the benefits it brings to brands and their audiences are vast.
If you’d like to talk more to us about social media audits and the benefits and opportunities they bring, then get in touch.