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What is a social media audit? Optimize your social media for ecommerce success

Definition: A social media audit is a series of steps taken to evaluate and optimize a business's social media profiles and strategies. Performing a social media audit can help ecommerce businesses stay on top of their online presence.

Why conduct a social media audit?

Completing an audit answers several questions about the relationship between a company and its Web audience.

  • Does a presence on Twitter bring in new customers?

  • Is the Facebook page retaining old ones?

  • If there any online profiles not in line with a business's marketing plan, an audit can realign them or indicate they need to be disposed of.

An audit is also an opportunity to determine which marketing techniques are successfully hitting established goals versus which ones need to be revised. The results can be used to assist companies in planning future campaigns and completing future audits.

Performing a social media audit

1. Locate all profiles.

Certain profiles will be easy to find if social media is well-integrated into a company's marketing strategy. Still, a few may have fallen by the wayside. These profiles are usually on lesser-known networks or platforms that were once up and coming but have since lost popularity. Aside from the big names (Facebook and Twitter), companies should check Google Plus, LinkedIn, Yelp, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope and many more. Also, be sure to check employment websites such as Indeed and An Internet search can find elusive profiles and point out any unofficial ones.

2. Record information

Make a spreadsheet to record the platform of each profile, its URL, who has access to it (listing their roles if applicable) and its number of followers. Track how frequently each profile is updated and how often viewers - both followers and nonfollowers - respond to comments and post ones of their own. Does viewer engagement rise with frequent posting, or do they prefer a select few updates? Recording viewer engagement can be done manually or through a social media metrics service.

3. Check each profile for completion

Go through each profile and make sure that every input option is filled. Social media sites vary in the amount of information a business can list (Instagram allows for a website, biography and profile picture, while Yelp adds fields for hours, location and much more). This ensures that a company is making the most out of every social media account. Some profiles also vary depending on which device they are viewed with - Tumblr's mobile version adds a header and color options that are not present on its desktop sites.

4. Check for consistency and deviations

Logos and names should be the same across all profiles, and any optional colors should be consistent with branding. Images, videos and other content should be similar enough to relate to each profile, but the unique aspects of each platform can be utilized. Certain information is more compatible with different social media sites (keep longer videos to YouTube and shorter ones on Facebook, for example), and having a bit of unique content provides a reason for consumers to follow all of a company's profiles. Check the content of each profile and make sure it is consistent with the overall marketing strategy. Communication should be the same unless that communication is platform-specific - for instance, a drawing only for Twitter users.

5. Consider the market

Certain markets gravitate towards different platforms - for instance, Pinterest is comprised of mostly women (anywhere from 72 percent to 97 percent), while Google Plus is mostly men (71 percent). Ecommerce leaders should look at the market each profile attracts and evaluate if this market reflects a brand's goals and strategies. This also means examining the interaction between viewers and posted content. Are viewers more engaged on one profile than another, and if so, why? Which marketing techniques are more successful? Similarly, check the tone of consumer comments. Are they complimentary, or are customers not happy with the offered product? Proper customer service extends online as well, and issues should be dealt with quickly and privately.

6. Set goals.

Once profiles are consistent and evaluated, it's time to look forward. Decide what's important for the coming months and what can be improved upon. Set concrete goals such as increasing followers, comments or responses by a certain number or percent. Once completed, save the results of this audit for future reference.

7. Dispose of unnecessary profiles

Sometimes a profile underperforms. Follower count or engagement may be low or the platform may not be popular. In this case, shut down the profile and focus marketing efforts elsewhere.

8. Identify unauthorized profiles

Unfortunately, there may be instances where a company finds fake profiles written in its name. Hootsuite, a profile management service, advised making a note of these profiles and taking steps to shut them down. Sending the creator a message may do the trick; if not, check the site's terms of service, FAQ or help section to see what can be done.

Social media audits are certainly very involved, but completing one can make sure branding is consistent and online marketing is effective.

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