It’s been a year or two since you first joined social media. Your business’ Facebook page has a healthy number of followers thanks to that promotion in the spring. You’ve figured out how to properly form tweets and hashtags, and maybe you’ve even hosted your first Twitter chat. You tried your hand at video editing and produced a few YouTube videos, but now your channel sits kind of dormant.
You had a great entrance into social media, but now things are starting to stagnate. All your friends and family have already liked your page and followed you on LinkedIn, so you’ve tapped that resource dry. What now? Mediocrity is the opposite of excellence, and your social channels are heading in that direction. There’s more to be done, but…what exactly is it?
Getting to this point is completely natural. The beginning of any project can be met with a boom of success, provided you work hard enough. But once you push through this phase, how do you get to the next level? One way to do that is through a social media audit.
Usually, PR and marketing companies will do this for businesses (like my company Shelten Media, LLC), but if you don’t have the money and do have the time, anyone can do it. Be forewarned, though, they are very tedious. But the results can be worth it: a new idea for strategy and content, a fresh third-party look at your social channels, and a better understanding of where you stand in relation to your competitors.
Step 1: Define your competitors
Most of a social media audit revolves around how your channels compare with that of your competitors. Who has the most followers? Whose posts usually get the most interaction? The point isn’t to find the best social media page and copy the owner’s strategy; it’s to get a better idea of what kind of online behavior your target audience is attracted to.
Make a list of at least four competitors, preferably five or six. You can write down as many as you want, but know that the longer the list, the more time this process will take.
Step 2: Find all competitors’ Facebook pages.
Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform, so it is most likely to be used by all of your competitors. Make a list of the following statistics for both your page and your competitors’ pages:
- Follower count
- “Talking about this” count
- Average amount of comments
- Average amount of likes and shares
- Posting frequency.
Also, make notes about what type of content is posted, and what type of content promotes the most interaction.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 with all other social networks you have.
If one of your competitors doesn’t have a social media platform, make a note and move on. Always be sure you’re counting general popularity (follower count, posting frequency), engagement activity (retweets, shares, likes, comments), and types of content (being sure to note which type of content is the most popular).
Step 4: Rank yourself against your competitors in all areas.
Are you right on the mark? Are you doing better than your competitors? You can use general popularity and engagement numbers to figure this out.
If you’re way ahead, great job! Keep up what you’re doing. That stale feeling you had earlier may not mean you’re doing a bad job after all.
If you’re right on the average, take a hard look at all of your competitors’ pages. Look over your notes to figure out what type of content performed the best, and see if you can start posting similar content. Again, you’re not copying your competitors, but if you find out that your audience likes funny content, then post funny content.
Finally, if you’re seriously behind, you’re probably doing something wrong. Are you not posting enough? Are you posting too much? Are you posting content that’s not what your audience is interested in? Usually the best content isn’t over-the-top “salesy,” it’s professional, and it provides helpful information to your audience.
Step 5: Change your strategy, based on Step 4.
If you’re also consistently performing analytics on your own platform, there’s no need to do this process more than once a year. It can take a long time, especially if you have a lot of competitors. But it’s definitely worth it to know where you stand.