It doesn’t matter if a business has employees on 4 continents or is run from a basement by a sole proprietor—they all need a social media presence. If you don’t have social media accounts right now, you’re missing out on valuable marketing opportunities. Additionally, you’re leaving open the possibility of someone swooping in and creating accounts in your name. Why would they do that? For all manner of annoying (or downright malicious) purposes. For example, they could hold onto the accounts just so they can sell them to you at a later date. Or they might even try to post on your behalf and cause major issues for your customers. Because most small business owners are already swamped with other duties, social media often doesn’t rise high enough on the priority list to get the attention it deserves. Plus, the endeavor might just seem insurmountable. “Social media can be overwhelming to small business owners who are brand new on the scene because there are so many social networks and so many ways to use them to promote your business,” says a business tech report from The Balance Small Business. “There is also a vast amount of resources available on using social media in your business. This can be helpful, or it can cause even more confusion.” If you are unsure of where your business currently stands and what is needed, you should conduct a social media audit. Even if you consider yourself a social media champion, an audit is essential to refining your strategies and identifying opportunities. The Necessity of Social Media Audits Perhaps you read the word “audit” in this article and felt your blood pressure slowly rising. But social media audits don’t require a lot of effort—and they have nothing to do with your taxes. In a nutshell, a social media audit is just a comprehensive review of your ongoing social media efforts. You’ll record crucial details that allow you to strategize in the most effective ways. And your efforts on social media could be the key to your next big business breakthrough. “Social media has become the new playground that unites all demographics,” says public relations expert Tony Fountain. “It's every marketer’s dream come true: It offers free access to such a vast audience of potential customers for any product. I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of marketers are already using social media in their jobs. Many small businesses shoot themselves in the foot by assuming that social media is a game for only the big players with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spare. On the contrary, social media platforms provide an opportunity for small brands to grow and engage with a close-knit community of both present and future customers.” Armed with the learnings from your audit, you will understand more about how your business appears to and interacts with customers in the social media realm. This includes: \tWhich initiatives are currently succeeding \tWhich initiatives are currently failing \tWhat opportunities you have to get better results \tWhich profiles are performing well \tWhich profiles need to be refreshed \tWhich profiles need to be closed If these sound like interesting discoveries to you, then it’s time to start auditing. Grab a laptop, open a spreadsheet, sit in your comfiest chair, and get ready to really move the needle for your business. How to Run a Social Media Audit on Your Business Just as every small business is unique, so is every social media audit. You’ll find various software and templates online which can help you in the process. What matters is that the following details are included in your efforts: \tSocial profile information \tAudience engagement metrics \tAudience demographics \tAudience referral traffic \tPublishing metrics \tMetrics specific to the social channel Now that you know the basics of what you’re looking for, you’re ready to get started. Here’s a basic outline of how the steps might play out: Find All Your Business’s Social Accounts This might sound easy at first, but you’ll need to search for more than just your few main profiles. For example, there might be older accounts languishing in the shadows that you or an employee created in the past. Or your business might have accounts dedicated to specific teams within the company. Finally, you might also encounter fan accounts or suspicious accounts opened by people who are definitely not fans. To find all these various accounts, you can start with Google searches. Next, move on to more specific searches within the social channels themselves. Create an Action Plan for Accounts After gathering info on every account related to your business, you’ll need to decide how to proceed. If the account is real and beneficial, you should obviously keep it. But if the account is obsolete, unnecessary, or nefarious, outline your steps for shutting it down. Review Your Valid Accounts for Brand Accuracy Now that you know which accounts you’ll be keeping, scrutinize them to make sure they’re meeting your brand standards. The images, voice, and business information should all jibe with your overall online presence. Possible aspects of the account to review include profile image, cover image, business bio, links, featured posts, and your verification status. Find the Top-Performing Posts On each social platform, use the analytics tools to identify your 2-4 most impactful posts. After you’ve found the posts that generated the most engagement, look for consistencies between them and take notes. The more patterns you can identify, the higher the chances that you’ll be able to replicate the success. Find the Top-Performing Platforms After you’ve taken the micro approach with various posts, zoom out and look at the various social platforms. The goal is to find which social accounts are driving the most engagement, site traffic, and ultimately, conversions. It can be hard to gauge many of these metrics from just a quick glance, which is why it’s important to save all your data and continually compare quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year trends. Learn About Your Different Audiences While there will be overlap among which channels your fans follow, there are also unique characteristics of different social platform audiences. You can use the analytics tools provided by each network to learn more about the age, location, and other factors that make your audiences unique. The Ongoing Mission of Refining Your Social Media Once you’ve conducted your first audit, you’ll have piles of valuable insights to sift through. But the biggest benefit will come from consistent analysis. I’d recommend auditing your social media every quarter, as this gives you enough snapshots per year to account for seasonal trends and other factors. By applying the lessons you’re learning and finding new ways to connect, you’ll be able to elevate all your business efforts through your social media efforts.