7 March 2014 By Northern Lights
The B2B and academic worlds have been slower, on the whole, than B2C to see the potential of social media for driving brand engagement, building strategic relationships and establishing influence and thought leadership – both online and offline. However, some have seen the potential, invested, and are now reaping the rewards.
Sheffield Business School are a prime example of how to use social media to build engagement and grow awareness. Working with Northern Lights, the school has developed a strong online presence and uses a focussed blog to interact with target businesses and demonstrate its expertise.
However, what does success look like for everyone else? How do you measure the impact of your social media activity? And how do you monitor how well you are doing?
A social media audit is a great way to step back and take stock of all your current social media activities and the impact it is having. This way, you can see what is working (and do more of it) look for any gaps or opportunities that you are not currently exploring.
How to conduct Social Media Audits
Audits require you to take an outsider’s view. While the person running your social media campaigns may believe they are going well, it is important to look at the objective statistics, not personal opinions. This is even more crucial for business leaders who don’t get involved in social media themselves.
Ask your digital marketing team lots of questions. If you don’t understand how social media works – find out! Agree a set of suitable metrics that campaigns will be measured on, and ask your team to report on these metrics.
Below is a snapshot of some of the basics that you should be looking for when carrying out a social media audit – and how to measure them.
How well integrated are all your various social media platforms? Do your website and blog have ‘follow’ links for your Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+ pages and one-click ‘share’ icons so readers to connect with you and share your content with their friends and followers?
Google has recently changed its ranking algorithms to prioritise social sharing in its ranking system, so it’s vital that you make it easy for readers to do this. Join the dots. Make it easy for visitors to travel round your site with links to other related content.
How often are people engaging with your social media pages and how responsive are you to their questions and comments? How frequent and consistent is the engagement?
You can generally make a quick assessment of customer service quality from looking at a page. A brand that ignores customer comments and simply continues to push out sales messages is a huge turn off. But there are also many tools available online to help you monitor, evaluate and improve social media engagement.
For example to measure Twitter engagement, you could use: Tweetstats, which produces graphs showing all your tweets over a month period, alongside your retweets and number of replies; Tweetreach, which tracks how far your tweets have travelled; or the community management tool Commun.it, which is useful if you want to know who your most engaged followers are. It shows your latest followers and unfollowers, plus a list of people you should (and shouldn’t!) follow.
I dedicate a lot of time to LinkedIn as around 40% of my new business comes from there. Professional groups like The Yorkshire Mafia allow you to engage with a large community of business leaders. You can check on a group’s engagement level by going into the group, hovering over the ‘More’ tab and clicking on ‘Group Statistics’. This will display an activity chart showing discussions and comments.
Are all your social media pages recognisable as being part of (and truly representing) your brand? Look at both visual identity and message consistency. I have seen instances where a company manages its blog strategically, but then hands its Twitter account over to an intern – and the inconsistency of posts is clear to see.
When you create brand assets – logos etc – also create Facebook banners and Twitter avatars in the correct sizes too. If you have different people managing your social media accounts, create a branding document that clearly sets out your brand values, messages and personality to guide post tone and content type. Innocent is a great example of a company that does this well.
All marketing activities should contribute to your objectives, and this includes social media. For business, this might be building new strategic relationships. For academics, it might be increased REF impact. Perhaps your goal is to be invited to speak at more conferences. Whatever your goals are, continually ensure your social media activities are aligned to achieve them.
Who is your target audience? What are their needs? What do they like to read about? When do they like to read it? Meet those needs! It is easy to get distracted and drawn into conversations on social media that aren’t contributing to your objectives and don’t appeal to your target audience. Clearly define your targets and keep referring back to them. More on developing strategic relationships on Twitter here. To schedule tweets when your readers are online rather than when you’re in the office, use Tweetdeck (also measures engagement) or Hootsuite.
(6) Online influence
Klout measures your online influence, taking into account the activity on all your social media platforms. Your Klout score is influenced by a whole range of factors, including the number of people who follow you, the level of engagement with your social media platforms and the Klout score of the people who you talk to online – engagement with highly influential people increases your score.
Sign up for Klout and periodically sign in to monitor your score, especially after running a campaign, as your score can go up and down.
Social media has huge potential to help both the business and academic communities achieve their goals. But it requires a large time investment to get best results, so it’s crucial you know you’re investing that time wisely. A social media audit can help with this.
How often do you conduct a social media audit? What do you measure?