How to get the most from a social media audit

As Peter Kim notes, we are in a period of transition where social business is becoming part of business as usual. As this happens, we need to implement practices that are repeatable and scalable. Social media audits are one of those practices that should be baked into that ongoing model.

However, as we “operationalise” social business it is important that we avoid confusing management activities with actual engagement or the process of designing engagement. It is too easy to get caught up with gathering data, examining statistics and creating graphs – this social intelligence is only useful when it is used to actually help with forward planning or to review progress.

To avoid this issue and to get the most from an audit, we recommend that you keep the following three points in mind:

  • Understand what an audit provides (and what it doesn’t) – An audit is only an assessment of the current state against stated objectives or benchmarked against leading practices or competitors.
  • Have a clear purpose – Clarifying the purpose of an audit can be as simple as asking the question, ‘Who is this about and what do I want to know?’
  • Know what actions you will take from the audit – Once the data and findings are in, what are you planning to do with that intelligence?

Clarity about the purpose can help ensure you are auditing in the right places – neither too little or not too much. However, when thinking about the action you might take from an audit it might also be worth considering what changes or improvement activities are actually within your current scope of control. Thinking about this in advance will allow you to feed these objectives back into the scope of your audit. For example:

  • Will the audit give you the data you need to make your business case if you need to change your approach?
  • Does the audit provide the information needed by other teams or partners who are part of your social business value chain?

Through the process I have outlined above, you can begin to see how a social media audit fits into a much bigger social business design framework. The findings from an audit may have many ramifications and it is important not to approach the audit entirely in isolation; instead think of it as a strategic tool that can be a catalyst for change and continuous improvement.