You might say, “Hasn’t this year been miserable enough? Shouldn’t I be treating myself to a luxury spa deal, not conducting the business equivalent of a prostate exam?”. Well, as bad as the words “social media audit” may sound, the whole process can be done in less than an hour, leaving you with a neat spreadsheet that explains your social media situation in numbers. You may know which social platforms are working better for you, and which aren’t, but you probably won’t know the specifics, and having everything laid out in front of you in one document will paint a clearer picture of your company’s standing on the web. Bigger firms spend hundreds of thousands on these evaluations, as analysing data becomes an increasingly essential component of business, but you can do yours for free. Here’s how to get started.

The numbers

Open whatever application you’re using for the spreadsheet (Excel, Google Docs etc) and enter one social media profile for each row. Include as many as you can, even secondary platforms like Pinterest and Quora. For the columns, manage them into data categories, starting with:

  • number of followers
  • engagement (likes, shares, comments)
  • post frequency
  • audience demographic

Now to mine the data. Facebook makes this relatively easy (if you believe their numbers) – just visit the Facebook Business Suite and the numbers will be there. For information on your demographics, you’ll need to select Insights and then Audience to see what kind of consumers you’re appealing to.

Upgrading to a business account on Instagram will grant access to Instagram Insights, where you’ll find all the relevant information. For Pinterest, again you’ll need a business account, after which you simply select “Analytics” in the top left hand corner.

The Twitter data storage facility is called Ads Manager, and lays out everything you need in a digestible format. You can also check “top tweets” to see what kind of content is turning the most heads (if this is important, consider adding a “Featured content” column where you list your best, most successful content posts).

Each business will have its own preferred set of metrics. Tailor your spreadsheet to the kind of data that tells the most about your company. E-commerce vendors, for example, can include a metric on “Consumer behavior” that explains what topics and keywords are drawing the attention of your audience. This information is available on both the Twitter Ads Manager and Facebook Business Suite. 

What to do next

The spreadsheet is finished. But, while you daydream about cashing in that coupon for an all-day Swedish massage, there is a little more work to be done.

The first thing to do is review your branding and imagery across platforms. Varying the images you use in profile and background pictures is good, but there should be a degree of consistency tying them all together. A consumer stumbling from one profile to another should not have the impression that they’ve looked at two different companies. You should also make sure website links and hashtags are consistent at this point.

You may find, analysing your beautiful data sets, that one or two of your socials are outperforming the rest. In this case, rather than hone all your efforts on the neglected children, consider funnelling more energy into those that are successful. You already have an audience on these platforms, which means that your immediate growth potential is also higher. These platforms will be more fertile ground for experimentation, as your posts are guaranteed to garner some kind of attention, and you’ll quickly learn whether a new approach can work or not.

Some ideas for experimentation include deals, free trials, coupon codes or newly-created content. Pay special attention to the demographic data you’ve harvested, and take some time to conjure a plan that will seize the attention of that market group.

For some people, regular social media audits may come under the category of “reasons not to start your own business”. It’s not easy to grow an online profile without a preexisting influx of marketing material, such as manufacturing videos for those that make their own products. If you’re committed to the task, however, audits are a crucial component. You need to track your rate of growth and understand your metrics in order to streamline your efforts towards what’s gaining traction on social platforms. Ross Pike of Quadrant2Design comments, “A large part of effective social media marketing is being resourceful and economical, not just pouring hours of your life into it. Use what marketable content you have naturally at your disposal, analyse your data and post about the topics that are already gaining interest. The whole process can be streamlined enormously when you know what works and what doesn’t.”. Use the data to your advantage and conduct smart social marketing. An audit may not scream “fun”, but you’ll be smiling when the numbers start growing.