The majority of industrial companies (61 percent) use social media for marketing purposes, according to recent IHS GlobalSpec research. However, only 27 percent of industrial marketers are satisfied or very satisfied with their company’s social media efforts, and only one in five industrial companies have a full-time employee dedicated solely to social media.

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These statistics may mean that your company’s social media use was developed in an ad-hoc manner, with some industrial companies getting involved without having a clear social media strategy or goals. If that’s the case at your company, or even if you have a social media plan, you can achieve better results if you take the time to conduct a social media audit.

Whether you’re a social media solo practitioner or part of an integrated team using social media, a social media audit will help you gain better control over your social media accounts, establish a social media strategy that supports business goals, and execute more effective social media programs.

Step 1: Inventory social media accounts
Start by taking inventory of your existing social media presence. It may be larger and more fragmented than you realized. Social media often starts at the business unit level as divisions create their own social media presence. In addition, new and existing employees open new social media accounts all the time. If your organization has grown through mergers and acquisitions, there could be multiple social media accounts operating under different brand names. If possible, centralize ownership of the accounts.

Step 2: Align social media strategy to business and marketing objectives
Once you have identified your overall business and marketing objectives, determine how social media initiatives can support those objectives. For instance, if one of your marketing goals is to drive thought leadership and establish your company as experts, then a logical social media initiative would be to publish educational and thought leadership content over social channels. If a goal is to better support customers, you might use social media to distribute user tips, invitations to training webinars, or how-to videos. If brand awareness is a goal, you’ll know that part of your social media strategy is increasing the number of followers and shares on your social media accounts.

One way to help shape your strategy is by tagging keywords and listening to what is being said on social networks about your company, products, services, industry, and competitors. You will be able to uncover opportunities for engaging with your audience and the market that you may not have considered.

As part of aligning your social media strategy with business and marketing objectives, you should establish measurable goals for social media, such as traffic delivered to your website, conversions, likes/follows, comments, shares and more. Only with measurable goals can you determine if your social media efforts are working.

Step 3: Determine how your audience uses social media
Are the social platforms you’re using the same ones that your customers use? Your social media efforts will be wasted if you’re not connecting with your target audience. The most popular social media platforms for technical professionals are LinkedIn and Facebook, and Google + is growing rapidly among this audience. You may not have the resources to manage accounts on all social media channels, so in your audit you might have to trim the ones that aren’t relevant.

Step 4: Evaluate your social media content
Content isn’t only what you post on social media, but what’s included in each of your social media profiles. Start by making sure the basics are all there: the appropriate company description, accurate urls and contact information. Next, are the header graphics consistent with your brand? Do individual users have profile pictures?

Then turn to the content itself. Is your messaging consistent? Are you publishing content across all of your social media networks to reach the greatest possible audience? Are you including links in your posts? You’ll also want to track what content is popular (measured by comments, shares, likes, clickthroughs, etc.) and what is ignored. This will provide the intelligence you need to develop useful, relevant content that your audience responds to.

Step 5: Create a social media “playbook”
Creating a social media playbook is an important action item in your audit process. Your playbook should clearly document your company’s social media strategy and goals, identify its accounts, define policies and guidelines for using social media (including any approvals or permissions needed to post on social media accounts), and identify team members and their roles.

Revisit the playbook on a regular basis—whenever there’s a change in your social media strategy, or a new team member comes on board, or you conduct your next social media audit.

Step 6: Consider using a social media management tool
If you’re committed to using social media for marketing purposes, then you may need to get more serious about managing your accounts and your content marketing efforts. There are a number of social media management tools (some of them free) that can help you be much more efficient on social media and gain centralized management of your entire social media presence. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts across multiple channels, publish content, track results and more.

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Have you conducted a social media audit? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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