Insights to Success: A Guide to Social Media Audits

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February 29, 2024

By Curley & Pynn

Whether managed by a social media department, partner agency or a team of one, leading and implementing your social media strategy is an essential part of your communications plan. It is also an investment.

Social media requires an investment of time, resources and dollars to create content, foster conversation and ultimately build a community that should be targeting the right people with the right messages. But if you are not taking the time to review your progress and understand how your approach is working toward your communication goals, then it is possible that your investment may not be well spent.

Conducting a regularly scheduled audit of your social media presence gives your organization the snapshot it needs to understand how your efforts are aligning with big picture goals.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the basics of a social media audit, including what it entails, its greatest value and where to get started.

What is a Social Media Audit?

Understanding what a social media audit is and its role within your social media strategy are the first steps to evaluating and optimizing your presence. It involves more than just a look at the reach of your channels, but also explores content resonance, brand positioning, audience engagement and more. Social media audits are essential because your social media presence is essential to your communications as an organization.

A social media audit is a detailed evaluation of your channels and their success in accomplishing your goals over a predetermined period. As part of this evaluation, we review:

  • Year-over-year measurement of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
    • If no KPIs are in place, this would be an opportunity to establish them. Common KPIs include social followings/reach, impressions and engagement rates
  • Most successful and least successful content, to learn what is resonating
  • Who is connecting and engaging with you and if they are your key targets
  • How people are coming to the channels and where they are going afterward (for example, is your social driving traffic to your website or click-throughs to sales?)
  • Consistency of style and message in your branding of each channel
  • If there is a clear voice and persona represented in your content
  • Personalization to the intended audience
  • Post frequency and timing against industry standards and your learned best practices
  • What your competitors are doing and how they are faring

At the very least, we recommend conducting a full social media audit annually, exploring each measured area in depth. The timing could be based on the calendar or fiscal year to align with other departmental reporting if your organization produces an annual report. We highly recommend doing monthly and quarterly reviews along the way, to stay on top of metrics, adjust strategies based on performance and mitigate issues that could become roadblocks to your success.

The Value of Social Media Audits for Goal and Course Setting

A properly conducted social media audit will do more than just check the boxes on metrics – it will help set your future course.

Just as with any other communications effort, your objectives for social media should be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. SMART KPIs are attainable and should be clear indicators that your channel goals have been met.

If your audits reveal that you continuously miss the mark on your KPIs, it may be time to readjust and approach with a fresh and SMART perspective. For example, if you set as a KPI that your Facebook following increase by 100% YoY, but you had previously been averaging an annual increase of 20% and changing very little in your strategy due to budget or other factors, you probably set your objectives too aggressively. Audits provide the perfect opportunity to assess KPIs as well as your approach to reaching them.

Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses
You’re likely no stranger to SWOT analysis, the classic business tool for evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This method has stood the test of time and its simple, yet effective approach to assessment is why SWOT should be part of every social media audit.

While working your way through the data you have pulled for your channels, consider which of these are highlights (strengths), where you could be doing better (weaknesses), what new trends, partners or platforms you could be leveraging (opportunities) and what external factors may be harming or hindering you (threats). This analysis will help you in developing recommendations for how your social media presence can continue to grow, meeting your objectives.

Reviewing your Audience
Your social media posts may be getting thousands of likes, but if you are not reaching your intended audience, your efforts, although impressive, may not truly be hitting the mark. Think of the social platforms you use and the content you create as a path you are walking to reach your target publics … this might include certain demographics of customers, partners, donors or even your own employees.

When auditing your social media, you pull and review data on the people who follow and engage with you most. If you see them on the list, you’re doing great. If you don’t, you might be on the wrong path.

Fine-Tuning Workflow
Conducting a social media audit can also reveal opportunities for improving how your team actively manages and monitors your presence. Do you already have a workflow in place that assigns specific roles and responsibilities for each stage of your social content? If so, could that process be more streamlined and arranged in a way that provides more clarity and ownership? While not the main intent of a social media audit, conducting one can help solve workflow challenges.

Getting Started

Whether you have a 20-person team cranking out content or a smaller presence you are just starting to nurture, an annual in-depth look at your social media will arm you with valuable insights on your progress and actionable next steps.

Capturing Your Data
To set yourself up for success, we recommend integration with a platform management tool such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social to automate reports capturing the data you want to analyze or use as KPIs. While each social platform has its own analytics tools that you may also wish to explore, using a broader third-party management tool will help save time by pulling information across each platform for you. You’ll still need to roll up your sleeves and review a lot of data, but it will be much easier to do so.

Pro tip: Did you know that the historical data available on Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn and more have a shelf life? By integrating with a platform management tool, you’ll have options to archive that data for future access, no matter how many months or years pass by.

Once you have your chosen method of social data mining in place, the exporting process begins. Ideally, you’ll already be doing this on a monthly and quarterly basis, so you are already starting with a good picture of where your organization stands against your benchmarks. If not, don’t fret. As long as the data is still available in the system, you’ll be able to pull and review it.

Checking Your KPIs
One of the first, and perhaps most exciting, steps of any audit is to check the progress of your KPIs. Did you reach your goals?

Whether you did or did not, you’ll have the opportunity to explore further as you continue with your auditing process, including the SWOT. Understanding what is working well is just as important as knowing what isn’t. KPIs are the markers that guide you to those key learnings, which are critical to future planning.

Analyzing as a Team
Social media audits may seem daunting, but they don’t have to be. When working on such audits for our clients, we pull together a team of at least two people, depending on the scope of the social media presence. Not only does this make for lighter work, but we also benefit from multiple perspectives when analyzing each channel … which for us, can be a critical move to save our team from spreadsheet overload.

You don’t have to go it alone either. Assign multiple members of your department to manage the audit or turn to a partner firm like ours to help. Whoever does the work should have the ability not only to pull the right data, but also to decipher the story it tells about your social media presence.

The Audit Report
Once you have reviewed your KPIs, conducted your SWOT and analyzed other essential elements such as your audience, brand consistency, voice and more, it’s time to work on your report and tailor it to its recipients.

Executive summaries work best for senior leadership, who will be most interested in high level insights and knowing if goals were reached. Consider using visuals such as bars, graphs and screenshots of content. An easy-to-follow infographic that can be incorporated in an annual report is another great way to share your audit’s top findings with leadership and other important stakeholders.

Detailed analyses are more appropriate for your department or others involved with communications. A comprehensive report including recommendations based on the audit’s findings will serve as your roadmap when you tackle strategic planning. We suggest scheduling time to talk your department through your findings, as these reports can be lengthy and you can use the opportunity to further brainstorm or inspire the team ahead of your next planning period.

Rinse, Repeat
Set a recurring reminder now for conducting your next social media audit. Build in ample time for that next review, especially if you are not conducting mini pulls of data throughout the year.

Contrary to what you may read in other articles, a comprehensive audit cannot be achieved in a 30-minute or one-hour session. You might be able to pull your KPIs quickly, but that only provides you with numbers, not reasoning or strategy.

In Summation: Audits Optimize Your Social Media Presence

A well-conducted social media audit is more than an evaluation – it’s a strategic tool that informs future direction. By systematically analyzing your social media presence, identifying strengths and areas for improvement, and setting informed goals, your organization can enhance its impact, ensuring that your investment in social media translates into tangible success.

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