Need to develop a new social media marketing strategy? Wondering how to audit your current social actions to see what’s working and what isn’t?
In this article, you’ll discover a nine-step checklist to audit and adjust your social media strategy for the future.
How Marketers Can Benefit From a Social Media Audit
Preparing a comprehensive social media audit can be time-consuming and might seem like overkill, especially if you already create weekly or monthly reports for your brand’s or clients’ profiles. So do you really need an annual social media audit? Absolutely! A yearly social media marketing overview can be incredibly helpful for:
- Getting a big-picture look at your content and channel performance over the course of the prior year
- Reviewing goals and setting benchmarks for key metrics so you can create more realistic expectations for the next year
- Confirming that you’re using the most relevant channels and making informed decisions about new social media channels that might improve your social media presence
- Ensuring your social media efforts generate sufficient value and contribute to your marketing goals
- Allocating marketing budgets effectively and convincing stakeholders to spend on the most valuable activities
How to Do an Annual Social Media Audit in 9 Steps
To conduct a social media audit, you don’t necessarily need pricey third-party tools. Instead, all you need is access to your company’s social analytics and a free spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets. Here's a social media audit checklist you can use for every audit!
#1: Catalog Your Social Media Profiles
Start by creating a list of the profiles on social media platforms that you’re responsible for managing. Include both active and inactive profiles—even the Twitter account your team recently retired or the TikTok account you only tested for a quarter.
Set up a separate spreadsheet for each social profile. At the top, list the username, bio, and linked URL. On each sheet, insert the profile picture and cover image or snap a screenshot of the profile.
Compare these basic elements and brand assets for your social profiles. While they don’t necessarily need to be identical, they should all accurately reflect your brand and leverage relevant tools for each platform.
Does a bio need an update? Is a URL pointing to an old landing page? Does a cover image show an event from months ago? Make note of the changes you need to complete to get your social profiles ready for the coming year.
Remember to look over those retired social profiles, too. If they have a lot of great historical content, you may want to continue to make them publicly available even if you don’t plan to publish anything new. In that case, it’s important to make sure they still reflect your current branding and include links to your website or other active social accounts.
#2: Collect Content and Follower Analytics
Next, gather data from your social profiles. Open the social media analytics for each of your social media accounts and export post-level data. In most cases, you can export data for the previous 12 months.
But each platform has its own restrictions. For example, LinkedIn allows you to download analytics for the previous 365 days, while Twitter Analytics requires you to download 1 month at a time.
Whenever possible, keep data streams separate. For example, Meta Business Suite lets you download all of the post, story, and ad analytics for your linked Facebook and Instagram accounts. To save time on sorting data later, it’s best to export each stream separately.
Keep in mind that some analytics aren’t available in desktop tools. For example, Business Suite doesn’t report on Instagram Reels. You can export basic Instagram Reels engagement data from Creator Studio but for more nuanced analytics—including sticker taps—you have to use the mobile app insights.
In some cases—like with mobile Instagram insights—you can only access analytics for the previous 90 days. So what can you do? Your best bet is gathering Instagram insights every month, and then repurposing that data for your annual social media audit. If you haven’t collected monthly Instagram analytics, start now and make it part of your routine.
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Although a select few social networks do provide follower metrics (like LinkedIn), most don’t. So how can you track audience growth over the course of the year? Again, it’s helpful to use your past reports to track follower growth from month to month. If you haven’t been recording this data, start now so you can use it to identify trends throughout the year.
#3: Identify Top-Performing Content
Most social platforms automatically identify top-performing posts. For example, YouTube Studio automatically displays top content overall and top content of each type on the Analytics tab. Along the same lines, Twitter Analytics displays your profile’s best-performing content on the Top Tweets tab.
But the way these analytics tools calculate top content may not align with the metrics that matter most to your team. Fortunately, you can identify top-performing content independently using the data you downloaded.
Take the analytics data you exported and add it to a spreadsheet for each profile. Remove any irrelevant data so you can focus on what’s most important. For example, Twitter Analytics reports on app installs and phone calls, which may not apply to your organic tweets.
You can always add extra columns to calculate engagement rate or other important metrics. Then sort by the metric that matters most to your team. In most cases, sorting by reach, total engagement, or engagement rate is all you need to identify each profile’s top content.
Make note of the top few posts, videos, or stories for each social profile. If you can, identify the reason behind the excellent performance. For example, you may be able to pinpoint the content type, topic, or messaging as a contributing factor.
#4: Review Key Performance Indicators
If this isn’t your first annual social media audit, you can compare the data this year to your report from the year before. Did you successfully grow your audience? Did you increase reach and engagement at the rate you expected?
Next, compare the past year’s data against your team’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Did you meet or exceed your goals, and if so, by how much? Did you fall short of your goals? Can you pinpoint the reason behind your results?
Your KPIs will vary from platform to platform, depending on the profile’s audience size and the scale of your initiatives. But here are some standard metrics to review for each social platform:
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#5: Look for Patterns and Trends
When you prepare monthly social media reports, you may be in the habit of looking for patterns. But a month is a relatively short amount of time and seasonal or short-lived initiatives can skew results significantly.
When you have an entire year’s worth of data to review, looking for patterns is much more helpful. Here are a few questions to guide your search:
- Do you see overall trends throughout the year? For example, did engagement decrease gradually throughout the year? Can you determine why?
- Did reach or content performance spike during certain times of year? If so, why? Does your business typically follow seasonal patterns or did your efforts impact metrics?
- Did any specific campaigns or types of content have a clear effect on your analytics? If so, is it realistic to do more of what worked?
- Can you tell if audience growth increased or declined at certain points of the year? Do these trends align with reach metrics or is there another explanation?
If you have an annual report from a prior year, it may be helpful to compare trends from year to year. That way, you can see whether the same patterns appear every year or if your profiles are experiencing unusual growth or engagement.
#6: Check Audience Metrics
Reviewing content metrics can tell you a lot about how your audience responded to your social media campaigns. To understand why your followers are engaging with some content or topics and not others, it’s helpful to check your audience metrics.
Note that some platforms offer much more audience details than others. For example, Business Suite provides audience demographics and top locations for Facebook pages and Instagram accounts.
YouTube Studio also provides audience location, age, gender, and language.
LinkedIn takes audience analytics a step further, providing data on follower industry, seniority, and even job function. However, Twitter Analytics doesn’t provide any native audience data, making it difficult to access Twitter follower demographics.
You can use your social media audience data to plan more relevant content for the coming year. If you saved audience data for last year’s annual audit, you can also compare follower demographics to see how they’ve changed over time.
Has your audience gotten older or younger? Have some new countries or cities popped up in the list of top follower locations? It’s helpful to take these shifts into consideration so you can plan more effective social media content.
#7: Measure ROI
As a social media marketer, you may not be directly responsible for sales and revenue. But in many cases, your social media content may be designed to promote special offers or get followers to click through to your website.
If most of your organization’s revenue-generating activities take place on an owned website, you can use tools like Google Analytics to measure the results. Open the Google Analytics dashboard for your company’s website and open the Acquisition tab to see an overview of the conversions attributed to social media.
Click on the Social link to get a platform-by-platform breakdown of the clicks, transactions, or goal completions on your site. If your site is configured to measure eCommerce transactions, you can also track revenue per platform. Make note of the platforms that generated the greatest value.
If you’ve added tracking codes to the links you share on social media, you can also get a campaign-by-campaign breakdown. Go to the Campaigns tab to see the specific initiatives that created the most value. If you haven’t been using UTM codes, you can start generating them in Google Analytics’ Campaign URL Builder for future campaign tracking.
#8: Establish New KPIs
After you’ve reviewed analytics from the past year, you can establish KPIs for monthly or annual performance and overall goals for the coming year. Take into consideration your past results and the trends you spotted.
For example, if your Facebook page reach continually declined throughout the year, it may be a good idea to build those patterns into your KPIs. But past performance doesn’t necessarily have to dictate future KPIs. For example, if you have a plan for increasing reach with new content, then you may feel comfortable setting higher rather than lower goals.
Either way, aim to set KPIs that are relevant to your company’s marketing goals. For example, if your team wants to increase brand awareness, then audience growth may be a key metric to measure. But if sales and website traffic are more important, then measuring metrics like clicks is much more helpful.
As you decide on KPIs, consider your main goals for each social profile. When you focus on the most relevant objectives, you can make sure you’re allocating resources effectively and setting KPIs that truly matter. Here are some standard social media marketing goals to consider:
- Building brand awareness by growing your audience or increasing shares and mentions
- Improving consideration by getting followers to engage with content or click through to your website
- Generating leads by getting followers to subscribe to your list or book calls with your sales team
- Increasing revenue by selling through your social profiles or driving traffic to your eCommerce site
#9: Adjust Your Future Social Strategy
By now, you’ve processed a lot of data and hopefully identified some interesting patterns, gotten to know your audience better, and pinpointed what drives the most conversions on social media. So what can you do with all of this information?
Turn these findings into recommendations for your 2023 social media strategy. You can use your insights to make a range of data-driven suggestions. Here are a few prompts your social media team can use to guide recommendations for next year’s strategy:
- Has performance and/or audience growth steadily declined on one or more social platforms? Consider whether it’s worth your team’s time to continue investing in these platforms. You might retire some that no longer meet your needs and focus on others instead.
- Did certain types of campaigns generate by far the biggest ROI? Think about ways to get more value from these campaigns in the future. You might consider running them more often in 2023 or brainstorm ways to run them across platforms.
- Did some content types or themes produce progressively better results throughout the year? Review your marketing budget for the coming year to ensure you can continue to publish the kind of content that gets results or recommend the budget you need.
No matter your industry or your social media stack, an annual audit is essential for a successful marketing strategy. With annual social media audits, you can answer key questions about past performance and identify lucrative trends so your team can develop a goal-oriented marketing strategy for 2023.
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