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Social media spring cleaningIf you followed our plan, you have been on PPC and SEO track for most of the year after your PPC and SEO audit in the first quarter. Your tracking is adequate and you are targeting the right visitors as a result of Analytics and Usability audit in the second quarter. You completed Content Audit and Administrative Cleanup; your kitchen is clean and creativity flows in the right direction.

You say, what else is there? I have audited everything I can. Can't I rest already?

No rest. There are two important audits left. The holiday season is making the fourth quarter the shortest of all. That is why you have to be very efficient with the last two audits. And it is important you do not skip them.

In the fourth quarter we will do a Social Audit and Year End audit.

Social Audit

Social audit is a tricky one. If you are doing things right, you have been auditing your social activities throughout the year. You have kept your watch, you have adjusted, you have measured and reported. So, why do the audit?

Why do it? Examine your metrics once a year to evaluate how you are doing. Measuring success of your social media campaigns is difficult. How do you put a value on a relationship? The difficulty of measuring lies in the very nature of social media. It is not good at direct sales. It is good at being a "wing man". Therefore, your metrics are all secondary.

What to do.

  1. Metrics. Examine how you measure your social media success, what metrics are important to you. Do they still apply to your business? Do they still cover the performance of your whole organization? If you are focused on specific area when starting social media (better customer service or increase revenue through better coupon distribution), is this area still important?
  2. Surprises. There are always surprises with social media: conversation spins out of control, a blog post goes viral, huge traffic increase from a story picked up by major media hub. Were there unexpected Social Media wins that you can learn from? Any issues came up that you need to evaluate and, perhaps, create a process for handling complaints better? More importantly, did any of the surprises changed your perception about your audience? People evolve, their opinions and preferences evolve with them. Did you learn anything about your customer in the last year? Look at your brand advocates. Do they fit your customer personas? Consider creating Social Media personas if your community is very different from your customers. Remember, if they promote your brand, they do not need to buy from you as well - they have done enough already.
  3. Reputation. If you do not have any reputation management initiatives, start one. If you are keeping your ear to the ground, check your "listening devices". That includes all Google Alerts and all settings in the reputation management tools you use. Your new products and branding phrases need to be included in the system. Revise your response processes, talk to your first responders - there might be changes you need to make. And, of course, give your Social Media policy another look.
  4. Maintenance. Take this time to clean up old promo files, confirm that all campaigns are current, check all redirects from outdated promo pages. Review all policies on all social sites you participate in. If something changed, you need to ensure you are compliant. Go through all active promo funnels to make certain that all of them work - people can "like" you, "follow" you, share your content, subscribe, etc.

When to do it. I prefer to do a Social Media audit last because you already have placed all your other marketing ducks in specific rows. The destination is clear, the show is on the road. Social Media will help you put the wind into their sales and to propel them in the right direction.

More resources

  1. Erica Swallow from Mashable attempts to help you understand the thinking behind what you measure in Social Media in her post Measuring Social Media ROI: 3 Things to Consider.
  2. Sunil Senan calls Social Media ROI "slippery ground" and offers his advice on how to grab hold on measuring success in his post on Forbes Measuring the Social Media ROI.
  3. HootSuite - a leader in Social Media tools - has a series of white papers on Measuring Social Media.

Year End Audit

Year end audit is all about you and your organization. This is the time to step back, look at the big picture and do some thinking. Time to evaluate and point fingers.

Why do it? You do not work in a vacuum. You do not accomplish great things on your own. Look back and reflect on successes and failures as a business. Count your chickens, mourn failed campaigns, recount big wins and give gold stars to all the people who made it happen.

What to do. Think first, assess and plan second, tell everybody third. Call a company meeting or give separate presentations to each department - whatever works. But make sure you do tell.

  1. Think big: company goals. Revisit the company goals. Reflect on contributions other departments made. What is important to finance? What is important to sales? Talk to Customer Service. Talk to IT. Look at your marketing campaigns and reflect on how you all worked together. Where can you improve? How can you help them?
  2. Give thanks. Give credit where credit is due. Go through analytics and pull revenue data. Single out departments and specific individuals who helped make the company money. Acknowledge them, thank them publicly.
  3. Remember all. Don't forget web development team. They are the grunts who make the wheels turn on your website. Thank them for improving the site speed, for patiently explaining to you what CSS sprites are, and implementing your 301 redirects correctly and on time. If you can, show how much money the company made because of their indirect efforts. And even though they write incomprehensible error messages like "Catastrophic failure" on your shopping cart forms, they are your biggest ally in your battle for search engine domination. Tip the hat off to your web development team who is making your website magical.
  4. Look ahead. Give an overall picture of the year - what worked what didn't and how you are going to change the strategy moving forward. Use this as an opportunity to educate everyone on the recent changes, explain why you are doing things the way you are doing them. Don't forget to mention what no longer applies. And please tell horror stories about websites losing traffic. Everyone loves a good story. Especially, if the story is how they have done all the right things and saved the company from disaster.

When to do it. The best time to do end-of-year review is in the fourth quarter. Sales teams are scrambling to meet their numbers. Finance is looking at balance sheets and sending out memos threatening Armageddon if departments don't cut spending. Everyone is getting their priorities straight and you want to get their input right at that time.

End of year is when the employee reviews are due. Acknowledge your best helpers before their reviews. That way their accomplishments will be fresh in their boss's mind. Highlight how much money specific departments made the company and they might get a better budget for next year. Let them all take credit, help them achieve their goals, and you will not only have fans, but a mighty group of Santa's Little Helpers who will make your journey smooth in the year ahead.

Start a Yearly Clean Up Tradition

It is critical to your success to stop once in a while, forget all the projects and tasks you are doing, and just think and evaluate. Look at the forest. Are you growing the right trees?

When you clean up clutter, you mind gets free. When you are sure your marketing efforts closely follow your business efforts, you can focus easier. You have a vision, you see the goal, you mapped the road. As a result, you have a winning chance to make the right choices.

The main purpose of all audits is to step back, look at the big picture, and see yourself your role in the big success. Are you fulfilling your destiny? Out of all your projects, what is a contribution and what is a waste? Why does your department (and you) exist?

The secondary purpose is to have a strategy. When you know your destination, you can plot the roadmap. When you keep your nose to the grindstone, it is hard to see the destination clearly. By zooming out at least once a year, you will be confident, that the road not taken was a result of a decision well-made. There is no way you can do everything that needs to be done. You cannot be everywhere your customers are. Focus on most profitable tactics and you will be successful. But you cannot make the right decisions if you never took time to think.

Take this 4 part series as a template, customize it to fit your needs, see yourself as a part of a big picture. Then, you won't need to stand up to get noticed.

Share in the comments what audits you do in your company. Do you have success stories?