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We’ve been keeping close tabs on a trend throughout 2018, one expected to continue into 2019: lean communication teams expected to deliver more value with fewer resources. Let’s face it. When you’re overloaded with tactics, measurement falls by the wayside. Does this ring a bell?

Savvy communication professionals find ways to evaluate their efforts. They understand that spending resources on social media, without tracking business results means no data. And when push comes to shove, no data means no way to demonstrate business value. After all, why invest resources in a communication channel if the ROI isn’t there?

The Advantis Social Media Health Check team recently conducted a social media audit for a national professional services association that has more than a dozen chapters across the country. Although social media was part of their outreach for nearly a decade, there was no overarching strategy. Like most organizations, their social media evolved organically over the years, with different business units spearheading different accounts. Although they were keen to align social media with their business objectives, the patchwork of social media accounts with uneven resourcing across Canada made it a challenge. On the surface it looked like their social media was firing on all cylinders but being busy is different from being strategic. It was just the kind of project we could sink our teeth into.

The Advantis Social Media Health Check

Our social media audit process has several phases, however for brevity’s sake, I highlight three steps below:

Step 1
We reviewed the client’s social media objectives to determine whether they supported the organization’s business objectives.

Step 2
We conducted comprehensive research to better understand their target audience.

We augmented our client’s internal and commissioned research with an additional investigation that provided the first-person perspective of their ideal target audience, beyond the key age and career levels. We looked at the relevant audience characteristics that mattered such as psychographics, preferences, motivations, and aspirations to intimately understand the target audience.
An online survey followed by live interviews filled in the gaps painting a picture of how the client was managing social media and the internal challenges they needed to overcome.
We uncovered about 50 official and unofficial social media accounts. This was approximately 20 percent more than they had reported. Based on our years of experience with social media audits, we find that organizations typically underestimate the number of accounts associated with their brand.

Step 3
We looked beyond our client’s borders into their industry landscape. We helped the organization understand where they stood relative to other players in their ecosystem. As the premier association in Canada, did the size of their audience reflect their national scope? Were other players in the industry employing tactics that were outperforming theirs? Were there standout players in the ecosystem related to the content type and quality, use of best practices and engagement with influencers? To answer these questions and more, Advantis conducted an environmental scan of over 60 organizations that vied for the same target audience’s mindshare on social channels.

The social media audit findings

• By reviewing engagement metrics for content on their priority social channels in relationship to other organizations and comparing to best practices, we were able to make detailed recommendations for topics and types of content that the client should consider producing in the future.

• To dig deeper and better understand who the client was actually engaging with on social (ideal target audience vs. a general audience), we reviewed engagement activity on Twitter over a defined time period. We identified and cross-referenced engaged followers (those that liked, commented, or replied to the content) against their profiles on other social media platforms. After analyzing this data, our team prepared a detailed audience profile that assured the client that they had a highly relevant following.

• The client was concerned that engagement was low in one of their key LinkedIn groups. Rather than simply say that low engagement rates in LinkedIn groups are not uncommon, we reviewed the group member activity on LinkedIn and noticed that very few of these senior-level individuals engaged on the platform in any capacity. Using a LinkedIn group was not the best channel to engage these executives. This insight provided the client with ammunition to look at a different engagement approach for their executives.

• We uncovered an interesting fact. For a given social media platform, many accounts across the organization shared a high percentage of the same followers. This clear-cut evidence led to specific recommendations about which accounts could be merged, deleted, or revisited to create content that’s more relevant to the audience and align more closely with the organization’s objectives.

As you might expect, our social media audit findings trigger a rich discourse. It’s a clear benefit to the client. In this case, it stoked the active participation of a dispersed, national team, yielding many ‘aha’ moments and helping them tackle the question “How do we translate these insights into a strong social media strategy and governance plan?”. With a comprehensive social media audit and more than 25 short and long-term recommendations, the client was armed with critical insights. Now they could develop a winning pan-Canadian social media strategy with confidence.

If you haven’t checked the health of your organization’s social media practices why not conduct one and raise the effectiveness of your entire team in 2019? Communication professionals often talk about proving business value and an Advantis Social Media Health Check can do just that.