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If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, odds are you’ve been told that it should.
If you are on social media, you’re probably wondering how to maximize the time you spend there. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to evaluate your current efforts, make decisions about how and where to spend your precious time, and create a strategy about what you want to see from your efforts.
Jenn Prystupa, Social Media Manager at OnDeck, is a social media veteran with experience in social media strategy, online reputation, and customer content creation.
“What do you want to achieve with your social media marketing?” she asks. “Do you want to promote your products or services, expand brand awareness, increase responsiveness to your customers, or build thought leadership? Before you can determine if your social media is working, you need to make sure you know what you want it to do.”
Prystupa suggests your social media audit starts with five questions to evaluate whether or not you’re spending time in the right place. And to determine next steps to make the most out of the time you spend on social media.
#1. Where are your customers?
It can be challenging to find out where your customers spend their time on social media, but it’s critical if you want to know where to spend your time. If they aren’t using Twitter or Snapchat, it doesn’t make sense to invest time there. “You don’t need to be everywhere,” Prystupa says. “Go where your audience is.”
This part of your audit may reveal that you need to do some research to find where your customers and potential customers are spending time online. Fortunately, researching your audience doesn’t need to be that complicated. Basic demographics on age, for example, already exist. “Many millennials are on Snapchat, and Facebook is trending older,” Prystupa says.
If you’re already doing some social media marketing, she recommends looking seriously at your current engagement efforts. You may even want to survey your current customers to see where they spend their social media time.
#2. Is your focus thought leadership or selling?
Some platforms tend to perform better for some objectives than others.
“Facebook, for example, is a better platform for selling your products or services than Twitter,” Prystupa explains. “It allows you to target new prospects that look like your current followers, add your personal contacts, and upload your email list so you can use Facebook to put offers in front of your current audience as well as prospect for new followers.”
What you look for within your audit, and whether or not you are successful, will largely depend upon what your objectives are.
#3. Are some of your efforts targeted at building relationships with your customers?
Social media is a great way to nurture relationships. Sharing content your current customers might consider relevant, or sharing offers they will appreciate, will help you keep everything you share at the top of their news feed.
For example, if you own a restaurant, social media could be a great way to offer a daily lunch special. You can also post reviews. What’s more, a dentist, doctor or tax accountant might use social media to share advice and establish themselves as the definitive voice in their market.
Within your audit, you should be trying to determine if you’re investing the right amount of time to the channels you’ve chosen. This is an important part of the audit that will help you determine how to allocate your resources.
#4. Do you spend any time listening?
Regardless of whether you’re on social media or not, people are likely talking about your company and what you offer.
For better or worse, listening is an important part of maximizing your presence on social media. “It will help you get ahead of issues that could crop up,” Prystupa says. “It also gives you an opportunity to respond to negative comments you might not otherwise have if you hadn’t been listening.”
She doesn’t recommend that you be defensive when you respond to a negative comment. “Address the problem, keep it civil, but don’t give them more ammo to publicly blast you or your company,” she says. “The fact that you responded in a responsible and engaging way is more important than the bad review or the negative comment.”
Most people understand that there are some people you will never be able to please, and the nature of your response will tell them a lot about the type of company you’re running.
If you address the issue once or twice and they continue to spam your feed with negative comments, you may need to block them. Just remember, it’s the aggregate of comments, good and bad, that most people will consider when making decisions about you—so the comments of a single person who continues to troll your business online will eventually be ignored.
If the only reviews on your site are five-star, incredibly happy customers, it’s actually harder for people to believe it’s entirely legit.
#5. How much time will you spend on social media?
It’s possible to spend a lot of time on social media, but in reality 10 minutes a couple of times a day is enough for most small businesses really need. Ten minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night will give you opportunities to listen, respond, post new content and engage with your audience.
You can also set up push notifications to your smartphone, so if there’s a comment or a question, you can respond quickly. “You don’t want to leave questions hanging for too long,” Prystupa says. “People who have questions could be the most likely to engage with your product or services.”
We Improve What We Measure
It’s human nature. We tend to improve what we pay attention to and pay attention to what we measure. You should regularly audit your social media efforts with these five questions to make sure your goals and objectives today are the same as they were when you first launched your social media campaigns.
If you haven’t been measuring your social media performance with a regular audit, Prystupa suggests the following:
1. Establish some baseline metrics and measure where you are now.
2. Set goals — it’s hard to tell if you’re moving the needle without any goals. Depending on your objectives, you could be measuring things like sharing, commenting, and other engagement goals in addition to how many widget sales you generate with social media
3. Compare your performance month over month. If you don’t know where to set your baselines, you may be able to find industry data that will help you set a starting point.
Social media audit done right
Social media can be a very effective tool for communicating with your customers and promoting your products or services. It can also be a rabbit hole that sucks up your time and doesn’t do anything to help your business succeed.
The key is to evaluate what you’re doing now, and take action to ensure the time you spend on social media is returning the value you’re trying to achieve.