This month, we are introducing a new series called Spotlight on Social Media. In this first post, we will be guiding you through the process of conducting a social media audit. Later in the series we’ll be exploring tools and strategies to help nonprofits enhance their digital outreach, so stay tuned for posts on topics such as content scheduling, Instagram best practices, and more!
Maintaining a strong online presence is a delicate act that requires frequent finetuning. While social media has transformed the way we share content, choosing the right combination of tools to make your work stand out is more difficult––and more crucial––than ever. Even more crucial than tweeting and ‘gramming is having a strong online presence... and that starts with having a communications plan that makes your content stand out. This post will walk you through the basics of performing a social media audit to help you take stock of your current digital footprint and set you up for successful content planning (which happens to be the topic of our next post!)
What is a Social Media Audit?
A social media audit is a periodic review that helps evaluate what is currently working for your organization while giving you the chance to identify opportunities to engage your audience in new and different ways. As Hootsuite writes in its step-by-step explainer, “‘audit’ can be a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. In this case, it’s simply the process of hunting down all of your company’s social channels, as well as any impostor accounts, and compiling key information about each account, all in one place”.
Why Does It Matter?
Whether your social media accounts are managed by multiple people or by dedicated communications staff, an audit is an important way to centralize information about your social channels and obtain an at-a-glance view of how they are being managed. It is also an effective way to regularly review their purpose, effectiveness, and security––for example, by ensuring that only current collaborators have access to account logins, and that you have account verification and recovery mechanisms set in place. (Our recent blog post can help you find free tools to identify compromised accounts and manage your organization’s passwords.)
How Do You Perform a Social Media Audit?
You do not need to hire a communications expert to review and finetune your social media presence––an audit is something you can do in-house by investing a little time and energy investigating how your current channels are performing (social media management platform Buffer offers tips on how to get started in just fifteen minutes!).
Here are three steps to follow to get you started performing your very own audit:
- Start a spreadsheet by using tools like Excel or Google Sheets to centralize information about your social media accounts and keep track of all the moving parts. In the document, make sure to note:
- Profile information for all accounts (handles and URLs)
- Who in your team is responsible for their management and/or has login access
- The purpose, or mission statement, for the account (e.g., promotions; service and event announcements, etc.)
- Engagement metrics (select the ones most meaningful to you–this could be number of followers, top 3 highest performing posts, etc.)
- Publishing metrics (frequency of posts, type of features, etc.)
- A column for any relevant notes about the account.
- You could also include more detailed information based on referral traffic, audience demographics and other analytics that matter to you. Most social media platforms provide their own analytics services to members (see, for example, Facebook’s Audience Insights, Twitter’s Analytics or Pinterest’s Analytics) while paid tools like Snaplytics can help you keep track of your reach on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
- Pro Tip: When performing an audit, make sure to include not just major channels like Instagram or Facebook, but also ones that may have been created years ago and then forgotten about. You will likely want to shut down accounts you no longer operate or that are no longer relevant––having dormant profiles with outdated content, off-brand visuals, and low follower counts could hurt your overall presence. If you are not sure how many social media accounts are registered under your organization’s name, you can use services like Namechk or Knowem to quickly find existing profiles on dozens of the web’s most common platforms. (This is also a good time to grab a handle on popular platforms you are not already active on... just in case you want to reserve your organization’s name for future use on one of these platforms.)
Dive Into the Data:
Once you know which profiles to audit, evaluate how each one is performing using your spreadsheet. Start by identifying top performing posts: what is making them so successful? How can you replicate their success for other posts or on other platforms? Is the information about your organization (handle, landing page, visuals, tagline, pinned posts, etc.) still relevant and up to date? Should any accounts be replaced? Do you use paid services for which subscriptions need to be renewed? Who in your team will help you with these tasks?
Integrate and Optimize:
Once the audit is complete, you can integrate its insights into your organization-wide communications plan to produce more relevant content. Perhaps your review has revealed opportunities to experiment with new forms of outreach or a new format for posts. An audit is also a good way to find out what platforms work best for you, giving you a chance to streamline your strategy by focusing on the channels that make the most sense for your overall goals. It is also a timely way to stay up to date on latest trends and best practices, generating ideas and leads that can be adapted to fit your needs.
How Often Should I Do an Audit?
Most online marketing professionals recommend performing an audit on a quarterly basis, but you may not have the resources or desire to follow the same schedule. As long as you reserve some time to do an audit on a yearly basis, you can reap many of the same rewards and you will have a strong understanding of how to keep meeting your outreach goals.
Are you intrigued by the idea of performing an audit for your nonprofit’s social channels but don’t know where to begin? You can find free templates on sites like Hootsuite and SproutSocial, or don’t be afraid to open your favourite spreadsheet program and start crafting your dream template today!