How To Conduct A Social Media Audit

by Kristy Bolsinger on Aug 13, 2010

Social Media AuditThe ability to conduct a thorough and meaningful social media audit is an invaluable weapon in a good marketing arsenal. Whether you’re a consultant getting started with a new client, or an in-house SMM (Social Media Marketer – so I don’t have to type that out every time) looking to improve your current efforts – compiling a holistic and complete picture of your current state of affairs is critical.

Certainly every case is different based on the needs of the organization or client but I’ve pulled together a list here that I’ve compiled by looking at client audit’s that I have done in the past as well as the quarterly audit’s I do for my employer.  Please feel free to share any points in the comments that you think others should be considering as well.

  • Profiles
    • Gather all: Document all profiles (including log-in information) where your brand has a presence, even if inactive.
    • Secure the rest: An audit is the perfect opportunity to ensure brand security by reserving your brand’s name on ALL other social sites. Yes ALL. Heelllloooo brandjacking!?! It sounds daunting but it’s actually quite simple if you use a site like Knowem.com. You can even have them reserve them in an ongoing manner so you don’t have to worry about it.
    • Level of completion: You’re clearly not going to be active on hundreds of sites. But you”ll want to be sure to at least fill out your profile on them. The audit is the time when you identify the sites you need to beef up your profile information.
    • Landing Pages: Are you using custom landing pages for your social visitors? (Hint: you probably should be.) Are they up to date? What are their locations, etc? Take inventory and double check your tracking analytics.
  • Branding
    • Graphic elements: Check and be sure all logos and brand images are up to date and meet criteria. Consistency is key in branding so be sure you’re in line with the rest of the organization.
    • Voice: This one is a little harder to “checklist” if you don’t have a style guide for messaging. But take a look at all of your social communications to determine how they’re lining up with the brand voice. If there is too much of the SMM and not enough of the Brand you will want to note this for example.
  • Blog
    • Regularity of posts: Take note of how often posts are being published and compare to the content calendar. Is calendar being followed, etc.
    • Content: What type of content is being published? Are there any opportunities for new topics or contributors?
    • Comments: Taking a look at the number and type of comments can provide a lot of insight in to how your audience is feeling about the content you’re producing.
    • Calendar: If there isn’t an editorial calendar there should be. Take note of whether or not a) there is one, and b) if it’s being adhered to and updated.
  • Other on-site social elements: For each site this will vary but take note of all of them. Pay attention to how they’re being monitored and encouraged especially.
    • Reviews and ratings: Are reviews and ratings being encouraged, rewarded and monitored? Who’s responsibility are they? How shareable are they?
    • Forums: Running a forum is its own kind of animal. You’ll want to pay special attention to whether or not there are moderators, who your most active contributors are and any type of rules of use that are in place.
    • Sharing mechanisms: As mentioned previously sharing options are an important part of helping your customers to share the love. Take a look at all sharing functions such as submission and tweeting buttons. Currently one of the most important is whether or not the Facebook ‘Like’ button has been implemented in the most effective way.
  • Content
    • What type: Much of what type of content is being shared and created has to do with your position in your market. Take a look at what type of content is associated with brand profiles (industry news, product specific information, etc)
    • Schedule or plan: Is there a plan in place for content creation and sharing? Much like a style guide having a schedule and/or plan in place will help to ensure consistency.
    • Style guide in place: Brand marketers should be familiar with this document. In social it is just as important. An effective audit should look at whether one exists for social channels and whether or not it’s being adhered to.
  • Promotions
    • Schedule or calendar: Are promotions being mapped out? If there are specific boundaries involved this should be documented as well.
    • Terms of service: This is important. Your legal team will agree. For promotions or contests it is extremely important to have a Terms of Service in place to ensure you are protecting your organization in all instances.
    • Wrap-up process: Is there a reporting mechanism in place that measures the effectiveness of all promotions and contests? Evaluate this to be sure that the efforts being taken are being promoted internally to their best advantage on a regular basis.
  • Tracking
    • Site analytics: Likely the SMM is not the person in charge of analytics on the site. Has there been sufficient cooperation between the SMM and the (likely) SEO/SEM in charge of site analytics to ensure all social efforts are being tracked? Proving ROI is HIGHLY dependent on this. Be sure to note opportunities for improvement here.
    • Sentiment: Tracking sentiment is tricky. Very tricky and time consuming. But in the audit process be sure to look in to how it is being tracked, how it is being reported on and what kind of meaning is being drawn from it.
    • Engagement: This can be measured in a ton of different ways. How you do this really depends on your own goals and needs. Some suggestions are looking at Facebook insights to see how people are responding to the content you post there, number of comments on each blog post, number of ‘shares’ on submission sites (Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, etc)
  • Tool sets being utilized: During an audit is a great time to look at what tools you’re using to conduct your business.
    • What’s missing: Take a look at what you wish you could have. Some things you’ve been wishing for in the sidelines of doing your job may actually exist. Bringing these opportunities to light in an audit is the first step in finding the tools that will make your life easier.
    • What’s superfluous: Are there features of tool sets you’re currently paying for that you aren’t using? Are you paying too high a price point or perhaps too advanced a package?
  • Offline Presence: Merging both your online and offline presence is not only important but extremely beneficial. If you haven’t yet done this, look for opportunities, and if you have audit to take inventory of those initiatives and be sure they’re up to date.
  • Conversation coverage: Take a look at the conversation happening around your brand and products. During the audit process you’ll want to take a look at how much of that conversation you are engaging in or potentially missing. Opportunity may be knocking.
  • Social touch-points: What other employees are socializing on behalf of the brand? If your customer service team is active or your developers are tweeting you’ll need to know about it. Any and all social touch points should be documented and noted for continuing analysis, training and improvement.

An audit will be a very individualized process. Consultants and in-house SMM’s will have different levels of access and interest so take what you need from this list. I know it’s long. I *kind of* apologize for that. Regardless, be sure that you are utilizing the audit process on a regular basis. For consultants this can be a great place to start and as follow-up to show needle movement. For in-house marketers I suggest doing this on a quarterly basis.

So at this point I open it up to all of you. Please share with me and the rest of the Social Fresh community what I’ve missed here or any other tips for conducting a social media audit you find valuable.

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Post Author

Kristy Bolsinger is currently employed as a Social Business Consultant with Ant's Eye View in Seattle, WA. Previously she was with RealNetworks. Prior to her time at RealNetworks Kristy was working as a Social Media Marketing Consultant and completing...

  • http://twitter.com/christawatson Christa Watson

    Love it! Easy and actionable. Thanks for the list!

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Huzzah!! Thanks Christa – glad you found it useful :)

  • http://twitter.com/kate_reuvers Kate Reuvers

    Great list thanks Kristy. And it's not too long at all. In fact. Give us more!! ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Oh don't tempt me Kate ;) lol!

  • http://yoyoseo.com DanaLookadoo

    Kristy, you really nailed what I envisioned for a social media audit. Coming from the SEO side if things, I only touch on a few social aspects in audits. Some of these elements are key and crossover disciplines. It's all one big marketing pot – engagement!

    I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on voice and messaging. Consider this a request for a future blog post.

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Oh Dana – thank you for that great feedback!! I find so much cross-over between social and SEO every day. Of course I really started out doing SEO so that has a lot to do with it I'm sure :)
    Request for future post on voice and messaging officially accepted. Keep an eye out :)

  • http://twitter.com/EurekaJanet Janet Alexander

    Reading this list I had a little fantasy moment…of me super-gluing copies of it onto the foreheads of a few small business owners I know…in a very loving way, of course…Cheers and danke~! Great compilation to share.

  • Briana

    Checkout what your competition is doing too… It's always important to see how they are socializing, you may be able to pick something up or differentiate your efforts from them which will provide more value to your network and result in a greater return. Great Post!!!

    http://www.businessbraggerblog.com

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Briana – Yes that is very true!! I've got a post brewing in my head about conducting competitive analysis in the social space. Hopefully it firms itself up soon. It is very important!!

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    LOL – It can be challenging to get some individuals to see that social is an integral part of business nowadays and must be treated as such rather than some flotsom and jetsom “new thing we're trying out”. I hope this help you in your journey of education ;)

  • rachelakay

    Great, comprehensive post. When we conduct audits, we also look at key competitors and the particular industry as a whole, i.e. how many people are talking about the products benefits, but who may not yet be aware of our client's option. It helps us to see where our customers are and where we need to go.

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Yep yep yep!!! Competitive analysis is a very important part of auditing as well. I tend to do them distinctly which is why you don't see it mentioned here really but it is nonetheless important!! Thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Yep yep yep!!! Competitive analysis is a very important part of auditing as well. I tend to do them distinctly which is why you don't see it mentioned here really but it is nonetheless important!! Thank you :)

  • http://detroit.fwix.com Jamie Favreau

    Very useful. Thanks for the post.

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Thanks Jamie – glad you found it so :)

  • victorcanada

    Nice job Kristy. This would serve as great checklist for anyone using Social Media for business or personal branding. Some of my clients had done some of this type of homework ahead of time and we were able to take them to the next level faster. Thanks to @MackCollier for sharing the link.

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Awesome that your clients were so proactive Victor! That's great.

  • Clare Danek

    I’ve been asked to conduct a social media audit for my company and after a couple of weeks of thrashing around in the wide open seas of the internet, where there’s a helluva lot of flotsam, jetsam, pirate ships and sharks masquerading as ‘social media experts’, this is the most helpful and straightforward starting point I’ve seen – thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/kristy Kristy Bolsinger

    Wow Clare – thanks!! That’s great to hear – I am so glad that this was helpful for you. :)

  • http://twitter.com/davergallant Dave Gallant

    I have to agree with Clare. This is a fantastic, comprehensive list of items to review/evaluate/audit. What would be wonderful, is to see this in an ebook/pdf format. It would be quite beneficial to others looking to have a auditing guide.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/debraedom Debra Edom

    Great article Kristy and helpful for me as a checklist. I help small businesses in the UK cover all their online options and social media is so important. Thanks very much indeed.

  • Guillermo Saavedra

    great post, I’ll definetely use these advice in the near future!

  • http://www.saltsocial.com/ Santosh Shetty

    valuable article