To maximize brand visibility, businesses must harness and master the opportunities presented to them in social media. We know how ubiquitous Facebook has become with its 1.86 billion active users, but there are other channels receiving heaps of attention in their own right. The formula for social media success goes beyond leaving your followers the odd tweet here and there. You have to post content with a plan in mind. To formulate a plan that will increase your brand’s conversion rate and ROI, it’s important to know how your current social media actions are serving you. This is where an audit comes in handy.

Auditing your social media accounts doesn’t have to be scary. In fact it can often be less time-consuming than a full content audit depending on how many channels you’re using. It will, however, involve some organization, so if you’re not a neat and tidy person by nature then we apologize. You’ll have to embrace your handy dandy Excel spreadsheets a bit right now.

Whether you’re an ardent social media veteran or you’re new to the game, here are # steps towards an effective social media audit.

  1. Get Organized

Like any spring cleaning, you need to get everything organized. Create a spreadsheet of all your social media channels including data like conversions, share rates, follower totals, and posting frequency. If you’re using a tracking pixel from any of your social media channels on your website, ie Facebook’s pixel, then you can document conversion rates here as well. There are thousands of social media audit templates available across the web to guide you through this process.

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Source: Social Media Examiner

When recording your data, be sure to include previous months’ numbers. Go back multiple quarters to get the largest sample size of information.

You can slice and dice the numbers in many ways. The trick will be to organize stats that are labeled differently across social media channels in a manner that equalizes them. In other words, we know that Twitter’s metric for popularity is called “followers,” whereas Facebook has “fans” and “friends.” You may want to find a template that accounts for these differences in terminology—like the one we showed above.

2. Identify Winners and Losers – Channels

To know which channels are winning and which ones are lacking for your brand, it’s important to identify your goals upfront. Is your social media presence being used to leverage an email list? Is it used to drive membership of a service? Or, is it used to get customers to purchase products from your site? Determining these objectives will make you understand what you’re looking at on your spreadsheet. From this data you can begin to deduce which channels are winning you converts and which are failing you.

General questions you should be asking are: which channels are referring the most traffic? How are users engaging with my channels overall (likes, retweets, messages, comments)? How are engagement stats fluctuating based on time of year, or even time of day?

3. Identify Winners and Losers – Posts

Determining which channels are winning or losing for you should be mostly plain to see. Where things become a bit more intricate is when you’re trying to figure out which individual posts are getting the job done. You can plow through your social media history snagging each post and status update from the past several months, or you can use a helpful third party tool to summon the data for you.

One option is Sprout Social, a social media manager that’s a tad expensive but provides excellent analytics across all social media channels. They will list your posts in a spreadsheet-like format showing you each post’s engagement and share rate. They can also show you how well you’ve cultivated your audience over time using an Audience Growth graph.

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Sprout added Instagram integration in 2015, adding to its already robust coverage. Hootsuite offers similar tracking data on individual posts but is a little bit cheaper to use. It also includes a free version that has some nice features.

If you’re organizing your posts manually, you might want to organize them by categories. For example, include a column for product offerings, one for video posts and another for special offers. Since you create each post for a different reason, this technique will help you see which ones are working within their assigned purpose.

Once you’ve identified your most successful posts, it might be easier to make a separate sheet for them.

4. Address Reputation Issues

Social media can be the catalyst that spreads your brand’s positive messages to the world. Unfortunately, it can also have its share of negativity aimed to drag your brand down. Anyone who’s operated a Facebook or Twitter account for longer than five minutes can recognize this fact of the internet. Don’t let negative comments or reviews tarnish your company’s reputation. Address them head-on by offering a sincere apology and your committed support to helping rectify the issue.

Best practices include: privately messaging individuals who have expressed a negative experience with your brand; posting a status update across your channels explaining how you’re aiming to fix any widespread problems; offering customers a rebate or discount on future purchases. However you choose to address reputation issues, be honest and forthright in your efforts.

If you’d like to go the automated route, there are many social media monitoring tools to help you squash reputation issues before they blossom. BrandsEye is one that monitors notifications and brand mentions in real-time to help you formulate responses to conflicts quickly.

5. Check Profile Appearances

Your social media channels are about more than the content you post, aesthetics matter too. Go through each of your channels and make sure your layout looks appealing and profession, and is consistent with your branding. Check logos, background designs, profile pictures, graphics, and text description. Basically you want to look at your accounts through the prism of a first time visitor, someone who is unfamiliar with your brand. You don’t need all of your profile descriptions to read exactly the same, but maintaining the same message among all of them is extremely important.

A great method for improving social media consistency is to write down a tagline—one or two sentences that articulate the goal of your brand and products for consumers. For example, if you’re a shoe ecommerce store known for manufacturing custom-fitted shoes, a tagline could be “More than a shoe seller, we are YOUR shoe seller.” You might not say that in so many words, but using this as your guide while checking each of your channels can help keep the message consistent.

Not a graphic designer by trade? That’s perfectly fine. There are a number of tools available for creating and resizing the perfect logo and background design across your social media accounts. Programs like Landscape, Canva, and Social Media Resizer Tool can help you create images from scratch or simply resize existing photos into the correct social media channel dimensions.

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6. Website Strength

Next up, focus on your website content to see which native posts are receiving the most shares and traction. Tools like BuzzSumo will express this data for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to go through your site’s blog and manually enter each post into a spreadsheet, adding columns for shares, comments, and any other shareability markers you’re tracking.

Consult Google Analytics to track which social media channels are bringing the most visitors to your site. The Audience and Acquisitions reports will be the most useful source for this information.

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You can break the data down even further to see which demographics are viewing your content. This will guide you retargeting efforts, as we’re about to discuss.

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7. Re-evaluate Target Audience

Now that we’ve analyzed channels and posts that are working and not working, it’s time to re-evaluate our target audience. Understanding your target audience means exploring your demographic breakdown, which is available in many different places.

Google Analytics is the all-encompassing tool for audience statistics, but most social media channels express internal analytics data with demographic breakdowns. Facebook undoubtedly leads the way in this capacity. The “Insights” tab is a robust tool displaying audience reach, engagement, and fan totals across different cities, countries, and languages.

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Twitter offers a similar feature based on page impressions, tweets and replies, and engagement rate.

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As with all of your analysis, it’s better to pull from a larger sample size to recognize larger trends in your data.

Other third party platforms that can help include Moz’s Followerwonk, which works with Twitter; Iconosquare and Tailwind, which tracks Instagram metrics; Crowdbooster, which tracks Facebook activities.

Based on this new information gathered, you can start adding audience targeting specifics to your spreadsheet. Who is engaging with your content at the highest rate? Females between 25-40? Young people between 18-24? Make note of your top performing demographics on your audit spreadsheet, then begin adjusting your targeting strategy accordingly.

8. Explore Other Social Channels

One of the harsh realities of performing a social media audit is when you see that you’ve struggled to bring in the right audience through your existing channels. Thankfully, with more and more social platforms popping up all the time you have more options available for experimentation than ever before.

Even among the most popular social media channels, you might discover untapped markets. For example, if you’re running an ecommerce brand that caters to female fashion and you’ve been getting leads through Instagram, but you’re not fully satisfied with the amount of conversions, why not open up a Pinterest account? Over 50% of Pinterest users are female, and if your content is visual in nature—fashion is very visual—then you should be exploring this untapped resource. Another undervalued channel is LinkedIn. Since it’s used mainly by business professionals, it’s a great platform for B2B companies to share advice posts, offer services, and get involved in various professional groups.

9. Update Posting Schedule

If you’ve been haphazardly posting status updates, images/videos, and other content to your social media accounts, it’s time to develop a posting schedule. Based on the insights you’ve gathered from your analytics research, and plotting everything out on a spreadsheet, you can start to notice patterns of effectiveness in your social media behavior. At which hours of the day do your posts receive the highest engagement totals? Across which channels? What categories of content are they?

Take your spreadsheet and begin compiling a social media content schedule. You can include columns with each of your social media channels, then rows for each day of the week. You’d then go through and type in a number for the amount of posts you plan to create on each channel per day.

If your schedule doesn’t need to be so specific, you can simply setup categories for just “minimum” and “maximum” posting frequencies. This is done below in an example by social media guru, Constant Contact.

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Although this format isn’t as precise as a daily schedule, it’s still a helpful way to establish a posting routine. You could take it a step further by placing check marks underneath each channel column to help you keep track of every posting.

10. Measuring Social Media ROI

Ultimately, the work you put into your social media channels needs to result in a positive ROI. While there are no fixed amount of posts that can achieve this, there are ways of measuring whether your social media investment is paying off.

SEM Rush is a great analysis tool that not only shows you which of your campaigns are performing well, it displays information regarding your competitor’s campaigns to show how you compare.

Oktopost is a social media management platform used primarily by B2B marketers. It displays the actual ROI of social media by tracking leads from the original social media post they came from. The platform is laid out similarly to Google Analytics, making for an easy transition.

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For e-commerce companies, RJMetrics is a great tool for measuring marketing ROI and customer lifetime value. It can keep track of many KPIs to show you which social media channels are winning the day both organically and in the area of paid advertising. You can also tack on email marketing ROI measurement as well.

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What is the End Game?

Social media is like coding. Everyone feels the need to learn it but many people don’t have a good reason why. If your goal is to build responsive websites, then coding is a means of reaching that end game. Similarly if your goal is to build lasting relationships with customers, then social media can help you foster and grow those relationships. A social media audit is simply a way to finetune your lead generation machine and help you develop a better targeting system. This will hopefully grow your consumer base, and your ROI in the process.