In my last post, I concluded it might be time to “call in the cavalry” and perform a social media audit. Several marketers responded to that post identifying issues they felt warranted further investigation and new solutions sets. Based on that feedback, here are the top seven signals that precipitate a social media audit:
An ambitious growth agenda
The biggest surprise to me was that among the audit requestors, many were fast-growing midsized companies looking to maintain if not accelerate sales increases. These companies make a habit of scrutinizing all aspects of their enterprise from customer experience to marketing, lead generation to new product development and simply want to make sure that their social media program is equally effective. This is especially true for acquisitive companies that are looking for help integrating their newer brands into their overall social plan.
Content that inspires crickets
Since most marketers have embraced social media and in the process have become content creators, the second most common signal is the absence of engagement with a brand’s content. And even though 99% of brand-generated content is ignored (according to a recent SocialFlow report), few marketers take comfort in being amongst this crowd and instead yearn for a way to produce content that inspires more than crickets. Getting there often requires stepping back and embracing a more customer-centric approach.
A mishmash of metrics
Among the more contentious issues in the social sphere is the question of which metrics really matter. The result is that the social team shares a mishmash of data including social footprint growth relative to competition, engagement per post per channel, brand sentiment and anecdotal conversations, very little of which is connected back to more concrete business and/or marketing objectives. Getting the metrics right is particularly tricky as social success is rarely the coveted straight line to the cash register.
Competitors that are cruising
Every now and then a brand finds just the right tack on social media and separates itself from the fleet of foes. In doing so, this brand becomes the darling of the broader media world, which serves to accelerate its advantage. Leary of falling too far behind, the alarm bell sounds in the CMO’s office, the social team is summoned and the scramble begins for a comprehensive solution to at least catch up if not regain the lead. Using the audit to rally the marketing department around a solitary enemy is often a victory in itself.
Facebook feels frustrating
With the organic reach of posts on Facebook dropping below 2%, brands with sizable followings are increasingly frustrated by the diminishing prospects of earning “free” exposure on the largest of social networks. Those that believe they already have communities around their brands are for the first time in a decade giving serious thought to building their own communities rather than being dependent on Facebook’s increasingly restrictive policies. Determining the viability of this option has thus become an additional component of audits.
You’ve got clips, not campaigns
Once a social media program is up and running it all too often becomes a slave of the content calendar as the need to fill each day and various channels with posts overwhelms all other considerations. Execution becomes the master and campaigns fall by the wayside. The same content gets repurposed across all social channels even if it doesn’t leverage a particular network’s strengths. There is no sum of the parts, as the clips don’t add up to campaigns, the posts don’t support a bigger idea. Finding tent pole ideas is a critical byproduct of well-constructed audits.
Listening without leading
Social media teams all too often operate in isolation from the activities of sales, customer service, research and even the rest of the marketing department. The result is an island of activity that neither nourishes the other areas nor benefits from their input. Ideally, the social team operates as the ears of the organization, identifying issues in real time as well as suggesting ways to improve products and services. An audit, through its interview process, brings departmental walls down (at least temporarily) thus opening the door for an organization to become a genuinely social (i.e. customer-centric) business.
Drew Neisser is the founder and CEO of Renegade, a leading-edge social media & content marketing agency in NYC. A long-time content creator and social practitioner, you can find Drew’s writings on Fast Company, MediaPost, Social Media Today and TheDrewBlog.com. His monthly newsletter, The Cut, is prized among friends and clients.
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