Would you send an email if you knew there were several misspellings? Would you willingly share inaccurate statistics in a report prepared for your leadership team? Chances are the answer is “no”. As a business professional, you would fix your correspondence or presentation and then share it with confidence. Remember these three words: Fix, move, forward.
A significant 90% of marketers said that social media is important to their businesses, according to a 2016 Social Media Examiner report. But how many take the time to audit their social media activities to make sure they are communicating effectively?
Here’s where the Fix It to Move Forward Approach applies. Companies actively participating on social media can take steps to avoid inaccurate communication and interactions that lead to negative brand experiences―an audit using social media monitoring is a great place to start.
Here are some of the most important steps to consider when auditing your activities:
#1. Evaluate brand strength and message consistency. If your company doesn’t have policies, training and a gatekeeper for social media participation, chances are an audit might uncover several missteps. You may see the improper usage of logos and company imagery, as well as ineffective messaging and information that may detract from your brand’s overall strength. The key to consistency is to make sure that a repository of approved information―including photos, logos, messaging and content―is readily available for employees who participate in your social media programs. Then, when you audit your social media properties, you’ll see how your channels follow your brand standards.
These guidelines are in place for a reason; to keep your brand intact, from the look and feel of your profiles to your brand persona, tone and messaging across different networks and social media platforms.
#2. Pinpoint an appropriate frequency of communication. Your audience’s reaction to what you share and their level of participation should determine the frequency of your communication. Should you share three times a day, or six? That depends on your audience. If you understand what they expect and prefer from you, then that’s a good place to start. Most companies will audit their conversations and break them down into what I call “Conversation Buckets.”
These buckets help you to identify high vs. low-level interactions in the following areas: employee culture, client success stories, industry and company news, real-time communication, and self-promotion, to name a few. If your audience reacts to any one bucket positively, then your frequency of sharing can be higher. If they react negatively to an area, then your rate would go down. Ultimately, by monitoring these buckets, you’re creating a distribution frequency chart. You can map the frequency of each bucket―daily, weekly or monthly social media posts―based on what people want the most from you.
#3. Discover the types of content that resonate and spur action. It’s important to make sure you have a content marketing strategy that includes how you set goals, develop, distribute and measure your content performance. Auditing your content program reveals what your customers care about and what they like to share the most with their networks.
You don’t need to have deep pockets for an in-depth content audit―there are simple ways to assess content preferences. Social media monitoring shows how people rally around your content before they get to your website. Are they actively sharing your blog posts, watching your live stream videos on Facebook, or clicking over to your site to take advantage of your Instagram promotions?
Once they are on your site, you can evaluate performance analytics to show the areas where people interact with you the most. Are they clicking, downloading, registering or requesting a demo from you? As you review this data, it tells you what people like and prefer. The areas of your site where you offer content that has no traction (no visits, minimal time spent or a high bounce rate) are areas you need to revisit and reconsider moving forward.
#4. Uncover the best-performing channels. How do you know what channels are performing the best? First, you have to know what to measure. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide helpful analytics and insights. There are also software platforms that can aggregate data with analytics to show in real-time how your audience shares with their networks and engages with you and your content across multiple channels.
Of course, companies realize quickly through the audit process that some channels clearly outperform while others are much less active. An audit can give you the information you need to sunset certain low-performing social media networks and activities. Or, your audit may guide you to invest additional resources into your communities, with a different approach. Either way, you’re gaining valuable information that helps you to manage your resources by putting them in the right places for maximum engagement.
#5. Build positive brand perception based on your authenticity and giving nature. The CEO Force for Good (CECP) publishes an annual study called Giving in Numbers that shows the yearly increases in corporate giving, from employees volunteering and helping within their communities, to companies giving to organizations abroad. Being a good corporate citizen and working hard to be a helpful part of society (social media included) is a top priority for many organizations. If you’re a good online citizen, helping your community members through meaningful participation, answering questions and sharing valuable information, then what people say and share about you will be a positive reflection on your brand.
Your social media strategy should take the peer-to-peer approach. People want to interact with people, and they expect real humans who are responsive and genuine. If your brand is not communicating with authenticity, transparency and a giving spirit, then the public will let you know quickly―something you can uncover in your audit.
#6. Compare competitor communication to your own. Another important element of your audit is to compare your strategy, engagement and overall brand perception with your top competitors. You can monitor their news coverage, audience engagement, the influencers and the media they are attracting, and how they are positioning themselves to capture their share of conversation on social media.
The intelligence you uncover can help you to fine-tune your messaging, explore different communities and build additional relationships by starting conversations with those who might be curious about your products. When it comes to monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of your communication, the audit helps you benchmark against competitors who can give you further insights based on their strengths and weaknesses. You can also tweak your programs to capitalize in communities where your competitors are not creating an impact.
#7. Keep your brand in good company by knowing who’s around you. At the same time, you may see a darker side of social media with angry “ranters”, detractors and even bots sharing your news as they share fake news, too. Knowledge is power, and you can maintain your reputation by keeping good company. Always know who is there to support you and who is not. Are your top contributors authentic brand champions? Whether it’s your business or your personal brand, it’s your reputation to protect. An audit can help you to be more careful of the company you keep.
At the same time, you may see a darker side of social media with angry “ranters”, detractors and even bots sharing your news as they share fake news, too. Knowledge is power, and you can maintain your reputation by keeping good company. Always know who is there to support you and who is not. Are your top contributors authentic brand champions? Whether it’s your business or your personal brand, it’s your reputation to protect. An audit can help you to be more careful of the company you keep.
Move Forward with a Fix It First Approach
As you audit your communication, you will uncover several strategies and tactics that are working for your program. You may also discover some unexpected brand champions among your employees and customers, and in bloggers, partners and the media. At the same time, you may find it’s time to rethink the content you share, some of the channels you use, the friends you keep and your overall engagement practices. Audits can uncover information that you don’t expect.
Do you have a fix it to move forward attitude? Social media offers an abundance of intelligence that can help you to create a better approach to your communication. After all, one simple error, misstep or miscommunication can have a tremendous effect, and brands can quickly find themselves going from most-loved to not-likes in a matter of minutes.
When you fix it to move forward, everyone wins with targeted communication that has meaning and more positive impact.
Deirdre Breakenridgeis CEO ofPure Performance Communications. She is an international speaker and trainer,podcaster,LinkedIn Learninginstructor and an adjunct professor and online instructor at UMass Amherst and Rutgers University. Her most recent book,Answers for Modern Communicators, A Business Guide to Communication, will be published by Routledge in October 2017.
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