As 2011 winds down, it’s time to take a look back at your year’s marketing and see what was successful. Use this information to decide what you need to ramp up in 2012 and eliminate activities which just aren’t contributing to your growth.
If you are like most business owners you know it’s important to look critically at your marketing on a frequent basis to make sure you’re getting an adequate return on investment. While you are analyzing your advertising, direct mail and association dues, don’t forget to evaluate social media.
Even if you are doing it yourself there is a cost and there should be a return. Take time to conduct a social media audit.
1. Put aside what you think you know. Chances are that you already have a firm idea of whether or not social media marketing really works. But going in with a preconceived notion will skew your results and make it difficult to get a clear picture of the reality of your situation. So try to be as impartial as you can and look at the data in front of you with an analytical eye.
2. Auditing Facebook. Facebook recently came out with a wonderful new set of analytics (called “Insights” on Facebook) that make it very easy to see exactly the impact your posts have. You can see at a glance how many people have seen your posts, clicked on your pictures, viewed your videos, shared your posts and other useful information. Use this as a starting point. Use this information to see which posts got the most and least views and interaction, and sort for the commonalities between them. What time of day did you post them? What day of the week? What topic were they on? Were they pictures, videos or links? Use this information to help develop a clear picture of the best dates, times and content to post on your page.
Also take some time to look at who your fans are. Facebook analytics can help you determine general demographics of your fans–age, gender, location, etc–but also take some time to sort through your fans and determine who they are. Are they current clients and customers, former clients and customers, personal friends, competitors, prospects, people you don’t know? Use this information to gear your updates towards the type of people who like your page.
3. Auditing Twitter. Unfortunately, Twitter lacks the wealth of built-in analytics that Facebook has, but you can still conduct a thorough audit. Start in much the same way, looking at your past updates and finding which got the most conversation and retweets and look for commonalities in topic, tone, time of day, etc. You’ll also want to check your click through rate (CTR). Hopefully if you use Twitter, you use a URL shortener like ow.ly or bit.ly. Both of these will track how many people click on shortened links that you share. You may consider doing some “AB testing,” where you test two different headlines with the same link to find which encourages more people to click through.
Take some time to examine your followers, too. You may want to consider using a tool like export.ly to gain a fuller picture of their demographics and psychographics and understand who they are, why they’re following you and how you can best engage them.
4. Auditing LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a slightly different beast than Twitter and Facebook. While LinkedIn has a status update feature, that’s not where the true power of LinkedIn lies. Certainly, take a look at your status updates and their response rate, but you want to take a deeper look at how you’re reaching out to people personally. Are you getting in touch with old contacts, reaching out to new people you’re meeting at networking events, using first circle connections to get to second circle people you’d love to meet? If not, you’re under utilizing LinkedIn’s true power.
5. Auditing your web traffic. One of the main purposes of social media is to drive qualified traffic to your website. Using your website’s analytics software, take a look at how much of your traffic is derived from social media sources. How many people are coming from social media sites, where are they going, how long are they staying? Understand the behavior of people once they visit your website.
6. Auditing your time. Anyone who’s used social media knows that it can be a rabbit hole. It can be easy to spend hours upon hours on social media without any discernible payoff. Are you falling into this trap? Take a look at how much time you spend on each social network in a typical week, then look at your audits for each network. Does the time you spend make sense for the payoff you receive? If not, it may be time to reallocate resources.
We hope this blog post has helped you understand how to take a critical look at your social media and make sure it’s doing its part in your overall marketing strategy.