I originally intended this post to be an end-of-year wrap up post, but, as is my usual MO, I missed that train, so…happy new year! Even though 2016 was a pretty good year for me (knock wood), I can’t say I’m sorry that it’s now in the rear view mirror and we’re off to a fresh start. Granted, a fresh start full of uncertainty and just yikes in many ways, but a new year nonetheless.
So in the spirit of fresh starts and new beginnings, what better time to KonMari your organization’s social media assets? (Sidebar: if you haven’t read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you should…I was skeptical when I started reading it and in the end never actually did it the KonMari way, but I have to admit it stuck with me and I continue to make incremental changes towards decluttering my house.)
I have been going through a social media audit as part of my new job, but it’s struck me throughout the process that it’s something that every org should do on at least an annual basis because social media is constantly evolving and what worked last year–let alone last month–may no longer be working…or even available (RIP Vine, Livefyre comments, most of the utility of LinkedIn groups, etc.). Whether you’re at a large company with an established social media presence or a small staff org either just getting started or thinking about getting started with a social media strategy, hopefully at least some of these tips/resources will be useful to help kick off 2017’s social media efforts on a good note.
4-Step Social Media Audit
Just as your closets, junk drawer and other physical spaces become cluttered throughout the year and suddenly the day comes when you can’t even figure out what you have anymore or what is useful versus what is crap, the same goes for social media accounts. Even if you have a totally on-point social media team, chances are that they’re moving so fast with the daily management of social media and the time-intensive process of curating and/or creating engaging content and not getting a chance to stop and do any digital weeding or drawer sorting. Here’s a simple framework for doing an audit of your existing social media footprint that can help set the stage for planning and strategizing for the year ahead.
- Who? Who across your organization is currently using social media? If you have a dedicated social media team, you may already know this and have a centralized place where credentials for each account are maintained. If that’s the case, congrats–skip this step. If you’re not exactly sure who has the keys to your various social media accounts, or are not even sure what accounts you have, now is the time to connect all your social media dots and centralize the information. Here is a great resource to help guide you through the process of identifying all accounts and pulling the information into one central place with login credentials. This is also a great time to evaluate what your current policy is with regard to who can act on behalf of the organization and in what capacity–what is the process for creating new social media accounts? If you have social media guidelines for staff, are they up-to-date and legally sound? Do you have processes in place with regard to revoking access to social media accounts when an employee leaves or is terminated? Just as IT and HR have processes in place for email and network access as well as physical access to the building when an employee leaves, there should be procedures in place for revoking access to the org’s social media channels at the same time. Here is a post I wrote about that in particular.
- What? While social media is “free,” it isn’t really–and just like any other resource, your social media presences should definitely have a “what” associated with them–as in, WHAT are you using them for? “Because you have to be on [insert any/every social media platform] to be relevant to [millennials, members, customers, whoever]” isn’t the correct answer here, btw. This is where you look at WHAT you’re doing with social media–what is your strategy? (If your answer is “there isn’t one,” see #4 below.) What are you doing on each platform and what are you looking to achieve? How are you measuring success–or failure? Are your metrics just vanity metrics or do your social media reports provide actionable insights? What could you do better next year? What resources do you wish you had if only there were budget for social media?
- Where? This is where you realize that success with social media isn’t about just staking your claim on every. single. channel and being able to display a dazzling row of social media icons on your website and email signature. Even if your org had the resources to effectively manage and maintain a presence on every social media channel, chances are some of them just don’t make sense in terms of ROI. And chances also are–especially if you work for an association–resources devoted to social media are either scant or non-existent, so making the best use of those resources and maximizing your use of whatever channel will best help you achieve whatever outcome you’re seeking is really important. Granted, I’m biased about LinkedIn and think associations who set up camp there are basically feeding LinkedIn Learning’s future sales funnel at the peril of their own educational programs, but seriously–LinkedIn is a great example of why you should really think long and hard about where you’re spending resources and what you’re getting in return. Ditto Google+. In that vein, I recommend again tying back to What and Why and taking a good hard look at what channels are no longer necessary or driving results, as well as what channels are emerging as potentially valuable. You don’t have to be everywhere; pick the channels that are most relevant to your audience and/or are best channels for helping you achieve your goals and focus your time and resources where there’s the most potential benefit.
- Why? At the end of the day, your entire social media raison d’être boils down to this question. Why is your org using social media–or why should you be if you’re not? Or, alternatively, why should you not bother anymore if you’re just doing it to do it with no actual goals or metrics for evaluating whether or not you’re achieving them. Without a strategy for engaging across social media channels, there’s really no point. Something to remember here, especially associations: one size does not fit all when it comes to social media, and be careful about buying into hype that there are universals in social media because there aren’t. For instance, “engagement”–what does that mean for your org? Does it mean you have to monitor every social media channel 24/7 and respond in real-time? Does it mean you have to be producing podcasts or videos because….podcasts and videos? Does it mean you have to start using Snapchat because if you don’t, you won’t be relevant to younger or future members? The bottom line is that what works for Pepco or Pepsi or an airline a) probably doesn’t scale with your org’s resources and b) wouldn’t necessarily be worth the investment even if you had the resources to invest. Understand what social media can and can’t do, what level of effort is required and do an honest assessment of what you can and can’t do within your org’s budget and staff restraints. Think of it like an HGTV show–everyone wants the mansion with marble countertops, a pool in the backyard, a huge gourmet kitchen, and a super deluxe master suite. But if you can’t afford all those things, prioritize your must-haves then be creative about achieving them and understand that you can still have a really nice house even without everything you wanted–and that you can always add more later as you have more resources. So, back to strategy, then–here’s a good checklist for evaluating your current strategy if you have one or helping you craft one if you don’t, and here’s a great resource for establishing metrics because doing without measuring is just….don’t do it.
Those steps should at least provide a good framework for getting a handle on your organization’s current social media landscape and set the stage for a productive 2017. What other steps have you taken or do you plan to take to tweak your organization’s social media efforts this year? Any tools or resources that are particularly useful that we should know about?