Auditing for the social networks

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I’ve had clients ask me to set up LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook accounts for them because they’ve heard that they’re ‘nice to have’. I also know of digital agencies who fuel this mentality, promising clients number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.

The thing about social media activity is, it doesn’t mean a lot without a good strategy and a good context for that strategy.

 

 

Context is where auditing comes in. Before I recommend a social network to a client, I measure a number of things:

  • Is the client’s business being discussed on this network?
  • If so, by whom and what are they saying?
  •  If not, are topics that are important to the brand being discussed?
  • Who uses the network and does the user base overlap with the client’s target audience?
  • What are the keywords people are actually using?
  • How does the social conversation about the client’s brand compare to the conversation about competitors?
  • And more…

Finding information on these topics can be difficult; it can also be bewilderingly easy. Sometimes, there are multiple tools for tracking the same things, like online reach and influence. Sometimes, these tools can throw up very different sets of results. The thing to bear in mind is that some data is better than none at all – but make sure you research a tool before you use it.

Even well accepted tools like Klout may not be telling you as much as you think they are unless you take the time to figure out their assumptions and parameters and how well they relate to your needs. A data-driven social media strategy is going to yield better results than one that’s thrown together on the basis of hearsay and whimsical. However, make very sure you understand the data that you are dealing with.

That’s why, I always emphasise that you don’t start your social media with tools; you start it by defining metrics. What are the questions you’re asking? How relevant are they to your client’s needs? How can you convert the question into a specific type of data that can be searched for and tracked? When you answer these questions, you have a much better idea of what you’re looking for and why.

These are tough questions to answer thoroughly; the best solution is to have a work-in-progress approach. Build a workable model and then go forward on that basis, but be ready to rework your strategy if the data points elsewhere or if you realize there are additional categories of data you should be measuring. It’s a more rigorous path, but it is the right track to be on when it comes to building the foundations of a social media strategy that delivers real business results.

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