How to Conduct a Successful Social Media Audit for Your University?
Since its evolution, social media has proved to be an effective tool to measure return on marketing investment. But how do you do it is the key differentiator that separates the best from the rest.
Social media is like an ocean. It not only provides horizontal space to explore new territories but also equal depth to further harness the potential of those territories. And therefore it becomes critical to think strategically about your social media use. While using social media properties, documenting and evaluating your efforts should be a key part of developing or upgrading your social media marketing plan. Here comes social media audit.
Conducting periodic social media audits allows you to determine what’s working for your academic brand and what’s not. It helps to eliminate ineffective initiatives from your marketing checklist and creates new opportunities for better social engagement. The insights gathered through social media audits helps to make the most of your social budget and maximize advertising ROI.
In this blog post we will explore a comprehensive step-by-step guide to make sure your University is able to track all the important touchpoints in order to determine effectiveness of your social media strategy. It will also help you in providing tips on how to grow your social media presence.
What is a social media audit?
“Audit” is a frequently used term in accounting and finance. It is carried out by companies to evaluate their financial health. In a similar way, audit of your University’s social channels implies assessment of your social media presence across platforms. This assessment can be two fold. Firstly, it can be done to gauge your University’s brand awareness or its outreach within the intended target market. Secondly, and more importantly, to appraise the level of engagement it drives for generating leads.
How to conduct a social media audit in 9 easy steps
Before conducting your social media audit, think about your goals for each social account. Evaluate usefulness of your existing strategy. This approach will enable you to understand the contribution of each social account in meeting the desired targets.
Once you have identified the key social contributors, it’s time to get rid of the unnecessary ones and replace them with new social efforts. Or, maybe you just need to make small changes in your existing social strategy to bring it back to track.
No matter what your University’s current progress is with social media, a social media audit will certainly help you channelize your efforts in the right direction and improve accountability of your marketing budget. It will also leave you with a single strategy document that lists all of your social accounts, the goals for each, who’s responsible for each channel, and other key information that’s important to drive the campaign forward.
Now, let’s see what are some of the vital steps for conducting a successful social media audit?
1. Start by documenting your audit plan
The best way to begin a social media audit is by compiling all the information you wish to extract from the process at one place. For keeping proper track of useful insights it is important that the findings of an audit must be duly recorded. For all this purpose, you can use a spreadsheet. You can do so using Excel or Google Docs.
For each social account, you should record following information:
- Link to your profile (for example, facebook.com/collegename)
- Your social handle (for example, @collegename)
- SPOC name (single point of contact) or details of team members managing the account. The list should also mention their roles (for example, page/group owner, admin, editor etc.)
- Monthly targets of those involved (if any).
- Top performing posts in terms of engagement
- Performance matrix to monitor progress containing important indicators to measure performance.
- Demographic profile of your target audience.
Do not forget to put remarks column for marking any relevant notes about the accounts.
2. Look for inactive and staggered social accounts
After you have completed documenting your account details, it’s time to track down all your social media accounts that might be old profiles created before your company had a social strategy and are currently inactive.
Maybe due to lack of focus and priority these social pages were left unattended at some point but now need revival. Or maybe various departments in your University are using their own social media accounts due to which there is no unified system or list of accounts.
Start by hunting all such accounts on the web and create a social directory.
It will also be opportune at this point to identify networks where your University’s presence needs to be upgraded. Add them to your social strategy if vital.
As part of your social media audit plan, you can even search for your University’s name in google to check rank / indexing of your social accounts by search engines.
If you find unidentifiable accounts that are linked with your University, they might be fake accounts running on your academic brand. If this is the case, you need to consult a digital expert on how to remove such superfluous social accounts.
Once your social network search is over, set up a social media monitoring tool to implement social listening strategy for locating impostor accounts and negative publicity online.
You must log all important information in your audit document. Use the remarks column in your audit plan spreadsheet to indicate important follow-ups or status of work in progress.
3. Make sure each social account is in sync with your academic brand image
Make sure all your social media accounts convey a standardised imagery that is in consonance with your existing brand image and its standards.
To ensure this, you can review the following:
Profile and cover page images – Do not forget to include your University’s logo in it.
Institutional profile – Do not leave any information incomplete. Make sure to incorporate accurate information about your University.
Hashtags – Have you created a few common hashtags for your academic brand and using it across all social channels? It is not at all a bad idea to do so. In fact, this approach helps in creating talking points around your brand thereby generating engagement.
Creating Linkages – For bringing traffic on to your website or any campaign landing page, it is very important that you add links to your campaign post copy.
4. Which are your best performing content themes / posts
Scan all social accounts and identify the top performing posts in a given period. Copy links to these top-performing posts in your spreadsheet. After the compilation of best posts across all social properties is complete, it is time now to analyse them.
Look for any common factor in these posts. Do you find any trend? Check the user response under different social media campaigns using static and video content. Do you find your audience reacting more to videos than static content or is it otherwise. Review the duration, period and other factors related to timings of the posts. What is the best time of the day when your content has generated maximum number of engagement?
These are some of the critical questions to be recorded and their answers to be documented.
Try to set a review frequency for this format to make it more accountable and effective. As you go along, be sure to make changes in the wake of new insights.
5. Use Social Analytics for performance enhancement
You can use analytics tools inbuilt within most of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc. to gather key insights. Your performance increases when you know what kind of indicators you need to monitor. These platforms provide very rich insights right from top performing posts to competitor mapping etc.
You could set criteria to evaluate the performance of a Twitter account or an Instagram post by using advance social media engagement platforms such as Hootsuite, Hubspot, TweetDeck, Sprout Social etc. Most of these platforms are enabled with a dashboard to manage multiple social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube etc. These further provide feature to schedule multiple social media posts from one place.
If you are trying to gauge engagement, your social media audit should track likes and comments. Likewise, your audit plan should measure website visits if you want to analyse traffic. Document the contribution of your key social accounts in driving traffic on to your website using the audit spreadsheet.
While auditing various social accounts, you might come across surprising insights. You may observe during the process that some of your underrated social accounts are performing better than the popular ones. For the accounts that are underperforming, you may want to re-strategize your efforts by making amendments in budget, content or other resources.
6. Understanding the audience profile for each network
Evaluating social accounts without understanding the audience profile you can reach through that channel will land you nowhere.
Audience demographics are a good starting point in any marketing audit. For example, Facebook users are much younger than LinkedIn users. Accordingly, their incomes and interests tend to vary relatively.
You can dive deeper to learn more about the demographics of your specific followers on social media using analytics and tools like Facebook Audience Insights or Twitter Analytics. You can incorporate your findings about who you’re reaching with each network in the audit spreadsheet.
7. Deciding on the right social channels
By now your audit document has collected enough information to help you make strategic changes in your social media marketing efforts.
After you have scanned the performance of each channel and its audience demographics, look for ways to enhance their contribution in increasing brand outreach and lead generation. Pull back the campaigns where you can’t find ways to justify your investment of time and resources, and focus yourself on the ones that provide the best return on investment.
These decisions will not be fixed and should evolve with time as the campaigns progress. The social media audit process will help you find the right channels to focus. At best it will help you to re-allocate your resources according to the contribution of each channel in driving your objectives forward. And the important thing is that these decisions will be objectively driven by insights gathered from strong data analytics.
8. Assign roles and responsibilities for each channel
Ownership of each social account should be fixed in advance. A dedicated person or a qualified team should be responsible to ensure that the account is up-to-date with information and is performing as per the desired campaign objectives.
This person or the team will look after the logistics of managing the account and will guide its strategic direction. Within the teams, specific rights of access and edit can also be assigned. This will ensure that only the right people have the right access to manage the account.
In your social audit spreadsheet, indicate the names of channel owners and their access rights. Centralising key information of ownership will help to protect your social accounts from any misuse.
9. Keep repeating the process
Finally, it’s important that your social media audit should not be a one-time process. It should be repeated frequently as per the periodicity decided by the University’s management. Regular audits ensure to keep everything on the right direction and suggest strategic changes to counter deviations if any with right interventions.
A quarterly social audit is a great way to keep your social accounts producing the best ROI. It further helps to benchmark the work you do on day-to-day basis as per the goals outlined in your social media strategy.
We believe that marketing teams in academia will be able to build a more robust social media strategy after reading this blog. You can use the insights in this blog to not only schedule posts rightly but also drive more engagement with your social accounts and monitor your efforts more productively.
Put your social audit insights to work and drive positive results for your academic brand.