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Check Your Status: 12 Questions to Ask About Your Business’s Social Media Presence

3 Feb, 2014 By: Neal Schaffer

Any time you audit your business, you evaluate your employees. You go over your financials. You take a hard look at what inventory is selling and what isn’t. You review which employees have your business’s social media passwords; who tweeted what about your business; and take to Facebook to well-wish your loyal fans. 

Say what?  If that last evaluation isn’t even close to being on your radar, it should be.  When you don’t regularly look at your business’s social media successes and failures, you pass up opportunities to correct mistakes, prevent future mishaps, and find ways to connect more effectively with your customers—all of which can help you grow your business. A well-managed social media strategy can allow you to engage with potential and current customers, manage your reputation, grow customer loyalty, crowd-source ideas, and much more. But that’s only if you take steps to define what you’re trying to achieve and to audit what is and isn’t working.

In my new book, Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success, I explain how companies can create a strategic social media framework, leverage opportunities that each social media channel offers, and implement a data-driven approach to monitor the success or failure of their social media programs. Here, I share 12 questions that you should ask yourself when auditing your social media strategy:

Social Media Platforms

# 1: Are we spending time where our customers are? There are currently more than 50 social networks with more than 10 million members. You can’t—and shouldn’t—have a presence on every single one of them. Determining which social networks your potential customers utilize most—and what your own presence on each of those outlets currently looks like—should form a sizeable part of your social media strategy audit.

# 2: Are we seeing positive ROI from the time spent on the platforms in which we are invested?  No two social networks are alike, and if you have limited resources, you’ll need to decide how much time you are going to spend on each platform, as well as what you’ll be doing there. This will help you to maximize your ROI for time and resources spent.

Social Media Content

# 3: Does our content resonate with our social media following? You can spend all day, every day adding content to your social media sites—but it won’t do a bit of good unless that content is of interest to your followers.  Make your posts clear and easy to understand. Also, be sure to use strategic keywords that will catch the collective eye of your target audience. And if you want to share longer chunks of content, post a teaser with easy-to-understand directions on how readers can access it—perhaps a link to your website or blog.

# 4: Is our content aligned with our business goals? If social media hasn’t done much to advance your business’s goals in the past year, you need to reconsider your entire content marketing strategy. If you work in a business-to-business (B2B) company, helpful content will often come down to the same types of things that you might already be sharing with your current and prospective clients on sales calls, in newsletters, or during informative webinars. And if you work for a company that sells directly to consumers, strategic content might include photos and videos of who is using your product, stories about your brand, or resourceful information to nudge people into realizing they need your product.

Social Media Strategy

# 5: Do our social media efforts have clear objectives? If you haven’t defined what you want your company to achieve through social media efforts, you’ve skipped an important step that could lead to haphazard, contradictory, or downright harmful information being posted on your company’s social media sites. Fortunately, an audit is the perfect time to clarify what, exactly, you want social media to do for your company.

# 6: Do we have a written social media strategy? A written social media strategy will standardize messaging, determine how resources are used, define which tactics you will and won’t pursue, and generally serve as a road map. And it will still carry on its purpose through personnel changes.

Social Media Organization

# 7: Can those in charge of social media prove their value? It’s not uncommon for companies to hire an individual whose job is to be in charge of social media. Other organizations outsource social media initiatives to an external resource. So, if you utilize either of these options, have you been getting what you paid for? Ask the employee or contracted organization to provide you with a concise report showing the value they are providing your operation. If they can’t deliver, that’s a red flag.

# 8: Have our employees been educated about our social media strategy? Even if you outsource your social media (but especially if you don’t), it’s important to make sure that everyone in your organization knows the rules, guidelines, boundaries, and objectives set forth in your written social media strategy.

# 9: Have you started to implement an employee advocacy program? Employee advocacy is one of the least utilized yet most powerful methods of leveraging the potential referral power of your own employees throughout their social networks. The Edelman Trust Barometer suggests year in and year out that we respect the opinions of our own friends much more than even CEOs or PR messaging. It’s now time for companies to leverage this and truly open up their social media program to their employees. It will become an important catalyst in building a positive, transparent internal culture as well as a stepping stone to becoming a social business.

Social Media Branding

# 10: Have we extended our branding guidelines to social media? Most businesses already have brand guidelines (including naming, color scheme, and imagery), and these should be applied to your social media properties as well. After all, branding is all about consistency, right?

# 11: What is our social media “voice”? Do your tweets, posts, and blogs truly represent the “voice” of your brand? Your company’s voice is the most important part of your brand in social media conversations. Although your brand guidelines might make mention of tone and vocabulary for use in Web copy, social media will challenge those guidelines when you need to have a conversation with an average person. In most instances it’s okay to be less formal on social media channels—just make sure that your updates, statuses, comments, etc. “speak” with a unified voice.

Social Media Metrics

# 12: Are we measuring the right metrics? Using the social media metrics provided by your social media dashboards may not be the best way to determine the ROI your company is getting from its social media efforts. Instead, you should look for metrics that help you see whether you achieved your specific objectives and goals. If your metrics don’t align with your business objectives, they have no meaning. If you already use traditional metrics such as CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), cost of acquiring a new customer, or even cost of an impression, see how you can apply leads generated from or touched by social media into the equation to help calculate the ROI of your program.

Don’t wait for your office social media expert to leave, or for a crisis to develop as a result of an errant tweet from an employee—start asking and answering these essential questions about your company’s social media strategy now.

Neal Schaffer is the author of Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success. Named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row, Neal is the creator of Advertising Age’s Top 100 Global Marketing Blog, Windmill Networking (recently rebranded as Maximize Social Business), and a global speaker on social media who also teaches as part of Rutgers University’s Mini-MBA™ in Social Media Marketing Program.  As a leading social media strategist, Neal has created social media strategies, coached implementation, and helped train dozens of companies, and has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Yahoo!, and the American Express OPEN Forum. For information www.maximizeyoursocial.com.

About the Author: Neal Schaffer

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