I’ve seen this scenario play out hundreds of times over the years. A client will come to me and say they need a social media audit.
Why this matters:
Words matter. What a client asks for may not always be what they need. For this reason, it’s important to understand the semantics of a social media audit, why it’s important when one should be done, and the differences between a social media analysis.
This usually happens for one of two reasons. First, they have specific goals, such as increasing leads or engagement, and they think an audit will help them get there. Or they are getting pressure from their managers because a particular campaign isn’t performing as expected.
But when I dig a little and ask about their current social media strategy, it quickly becomes apparent that they aren’t asking the right questions and aren’t sure what they want.
And that’s completely okay!
Social media is constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up. But a social media audit is not always the answer if you’re unsure where to start. That said, there is a time and place for one, so let’s get into it.
What is a Social Media Audit?
Before we get into the details, let’s align on a few things. First, a social media audit is not the same as a social media analysis, it’s more complex. It’s a deep dive into your social media data to see how you’re performing, where you can improve, and identify white space. It will usually involve content and text analysis, audience intelligence, competitive benchmarking, and more.
A social media audit would typically not include this level of detail or analysis.
A social media audit is more like a check-up. It’s counting numbers. It’s designed to give you a general overview of your social media health and identify any areas that may need attention. An audit is an essential part of any social media strategy. It can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities for improvement.
Below is a social media audit example. It shows basic web traffic and demographics (age & gender) of a brand’s social media community.
This social media audit report is more of an example of an executive summary and provides page-level activity for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Understanding that a social media audit is different from a social media strategy is critical. It helps inform a strategy, but they are not synonymous.
When to Conduct a Social Media Audit
I might be the wrong person to ask about the frequency of conducting a social media audit. I like to look at data in real time. You’d be surprised how minor tweaks in content, budget, or targeting can significantly impact your performance results.
But not everyone is like me.
Biweekly or monthly would be a good starting point for a social media audit. But, of course, all of this would depend upon your internal resources or whether you work with an agency.
If you work with an agency, they may create a template in PowerPoint that is updated based on the frequency you’ve agreed upon. Or, they may create a dashboard using Google Data Studio or Tableau to update the data in real time. While this would be an automated approach, the agency would still have to contextualize the insights manually once they reviewed the data. That is the one downside of using a social media analytics dashboard.
There will also be triggers or panic buttons that might take you down the path of doing a social media audit. For example, you might be presenting a QBR to your CMO, and they may have questions about the performance data to which you don’t have answers. This can get uncomfortable quickly and cause anxiety for you, your direct reports, and the agencies working on your business. This is more of a panic button than a trigger.
Staffing changes in the marketing organization might cause a trigger. Maybe you were just hired at the company to lead social media. You will want to see the performance data over the last month or quarter and use it as a benchmark to track your progress.
On the other hand, perhaps there is a new CMO on board, and they have clarified that they plan to change the brand, messaging, and creative approach. In this case, you would want to ensure that you have all the performance data from your social media audit and are buttoned up when you present it.
Lastly, it’s wise to do a social media audit when planning for the upcoming quarter or launching a new, integrated digital strategy or campaign. This will help you set benchmarks and goals that you can track against once the campaign launches.
When Should You Do a Social Media Competitor Audit?
Short answer: All the time.
A social media competitor audit is a comprehensive review of your competitor’s social media presence and strategies. This type of audit allows you to understand what your competition is doing on social media, how they engage their audience and the content types they share. It also helps you identify opportunities to differentiate yourself and stand out.
It’s essential to regularly assess the social media activities of your competitors so that you can stay one step ahead in trends and user engagement. A proper competitor audit should include a deep dive into all relevant channels (e.g., TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube). You should also assess their website content and digital campaigns.
A thorough social media competitor audit should include assessing their content topics, style, frequency, user engagement, and content analytics. By studying your competitors’ data, you can better understand what content resonates with their audience, the best days and times to post, which channels are most responsive, and so on. You can then use that information to develop your strategy for success on social media.
In addition to assessing social activities and materials, it is essential to consider broader business objectives. Understanding your competitor’s goals will help you identify opportunities for growth in both new and established social media channels.
How to Conduct a Social Media Audit
I’m not going to try and come up with a new way to do a social media audit or recycle someone else’s thought leadership. An audit is basic and straightforward. And several blog posts have already gone into great detail on how to do one correctly. They provide a step-by-step approach with supporting social media audit templates, examples, and downloadable guides. In addition, Sprout Social and Hootsuite are masterful at providing resources for social media marketers, so there’s no sense in re-creating the wheel.
But I do want to add that there are two parts to a social media audit: quantitative and qualitative data.
The quantitative part is all about the performance metrics. You’ll want to collect data on your reach, engagement, leads, and conversions. Then, you may peel the layer back and deep dive into clickthrough and conversion rates.
This data will help you understand your overall performance and identify gaps. The best way to collect this data is natively through Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, TikTok Insights, etc. In addition, Hootsuite and Sprout Social have integrated analytics, making it a one-stop shop to pull and analyze social media reports. Other platforms to consider are Rival IQ, Socialinsider, Keyhole, and Brandwatch. They each have different price points and capabilities so do your research.
With the qualitative part of a social media audit, you blend more into the analysis. For example, if you already have social media monitoring turned on, you can go in and get a pulse check of brand and product mentions, audience, and competitive brand engagement. This is more qualitative because you should report on the data’s context and not necessarily the numbers.
You’ll want to understand what’s trending with your target audience, what’s top of mind, and how they perceive your brand. But, again, a social media audit is not a deep-dive analysis but more of an overview.
Final Thoughts on a Brand Social Media Audit
Here are a few general considerations when auditing your social media channels. Remember that many of these will depend on where you work, the size of your company, the sophistication of your social media leadership team, and your budget. But this is a good summary of what to expect.
- It’s fast. A thorough social media analysis can take weeks or even months, depending on your resources. A social media audit can be done quickly–in hours, not days. Don’t try and boil the ocean when doing an audit. Do enough to optimize existing campaigns and make changes, but you can always save the more extensive analysis for later.
- It’s inexpensive. If you publish content on social media, you can leverage each native platform to pull performance data at any time. While the analytics platforms mentioned above aren’t free, they are affordable and can save you time. Time is money, and social media moves fast. It’s real-time.
- It’s not your only source of truth. Remember that a social media audit is quick and meant to give you immediate insights into your performance. It’s counting numbers. It’s not data science. It’s not contextualizing the data.
- A social media audit is just the start. There will be times when you are auditing social media that you go down a rabbit hole with the data. This will always become a more extensive analysis, which is okay. When this happens, ensure you include web analytics, digital media data, audience insights, and other internal data sources you can access.
- Anyone can do an audit. You don’t need to be a data scientist or even an analyst to do an audit. Heck, you don’t even have to know excel. As long as you have access to the native platforms or a tool, you can deliver actionable insights immediately.
- Your social media is being audited. I can guarantee that your competitors are auditing their social media channels and examining your actions. They are looking hard.
You don’t have to overcomplicate your approach or method for a social media audit. It’s straightforward to do. But it’s also critical that you keep a pulse on the performance of your social marketing programs, so don’t put it off.
And lastly, remember that a social media audit would typically not include the following:
- Text analysis
- Audience analysis
- Buyer personas
- SEO and organic search analysis
- Display advertising performance data
- PR and media coverage
- Influencer marketing analytics
- Paid search
- Web analytics
Don’t get me wrong; these are all critical data points that should be used to inform future campaigns and social media programs. However, it would require a larger digital media audit and analysis. Typically, this would go hand in hand with using the PESO model when planning your digital marketing strategy.