ROI. ROI. ROI. Buzzword central. I hear this every day from my colleagues...in their emails…on repeat in my dreams:
"Is this blog I write every week really worth my time?"
"What are we actually getting out of that podcast?"
We're all busy. Some of us are extremely busy. But no matter what, we're all being asked to supplement our day-to-day jobs by writing blog posts, tweeting for the company, tweeting for ourselves, posting on LinkedIn, snapping a selfie, etc. All of this extra effort deserves a payoff in some form or fashion, but, unfortunately, it's rarely received. That's because we put the cart before the horse. We tweet because we think we have to…instead of tweeting because it makes business sense.
The key to making the time and expense of creating content both effective and efficient is to create strategies that are grounded in real insights, and the best way to do this is to spend some real time creating an action-oriented social media audit. I'm not talking about just any social media audit with follower counts and tweet levels. I'm talking about creating an audit that gives you priorities and tactics to use moving forward, to ensure higher engagement levels and an expanded reach. Yes, these take a lot of time. But it's an upfront investment that will yield great returns down the line -- guaranteed. And here's how:
This step may seem obvious, but while you may already have a good perspective as to who your competitors are, you may find that they can vary a bit in the digital space. To combat this, use a little SEO mastery to discover which companies are leveraging the same search keywords as the company you're evaluating. If there's a company going after the same search keywords as you, include them as a part of your audit.
Examine and rank competitors' social media efforts
The best way to inform this section of your audit is to do a little research into the social networks that are most relevant for your target audience. These habits will help inform a scorecard approach to guide your competitor analysis. Basically, it allows you to create a weighted scale (giving more weight to the social networks used most often by your client's target audience), and score a company and their competitors across each network. In addition to baseline ratings to give you a first and last place for each network and overall, this section should include anecdotal information on how each competitor is approaching each particular network, how often they're posting, and what they're posting about.
Analyze social media landscape as a whole
Compare your brand to a "landscape average" -- meaning the average amount of followers, posts, or engagement experienced across all of your competitors. This will tell you how your follower counts, posting cadence, and engagement rates line up.
Evaluate top content
Determine which content receives the highest engagement rates across the board and which content resonates most often with the entire landscape of followers.
Analyze audience engagement and influencers
Audits should include a high-level glimpse at the types of followers each competitor has individually, as well as a holistic view of the types of followers and influencers that exist across the entire landscape. You can perform a "follower overlap analysis" to determine how similar your client's followers are to their competitors' followers.
Provide insight into competitors' social/content strategy
A really excellent audit always includes a little background into competitor strategies. Basically, based on what they're posting on each channel, what can you surmise is their overall approach?
Provide opportunity and gap analysis
Finally, what does all of this mean? The parts of the social media audit that make it truly actionable are the insights and intuitions drawn from all of the data. Locate the gaps left by competitors in terms of thought leadership and customer service that your brand can fill. Where are your opportunities to improve? Take this section and run with your social strategy.
Together, these seven components will help arm your team with the information necessary to develop a social strategy that's built with ROI in mind.
Now, go get your audit on.
Allie Rees is a senior digital media strategist at LPP.
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