It's easy to become so focused on implementation and the immediate feedback in terms of hearts and likes that we forget to take a step back evaluate current social media efforts and ensure we're are on track to meet annual goals. With opportunities in social changing so quickly, (Facebook authorship for blogger, Social advertising through Pinterest and Instagram and Periscope, to name a few), it's also important to evaluate if current strategies are enough to fully take advantage of all the ways fashion brands can communicate and activate communities through social media.
Whether you are managing social media on behalf of clients, your own agency, or a designer going DIY, a social media audit will help clarify what is working well, get a sense of current digital buzz and identify opportunities for improvement. Often, social media examinations like this reveal a number of surprises and can be a beneficial way to identify existing brand ambassadors, competitor content strategies and ideal influencers for partnership.
With fall fashion and back to school right around the corner, a clear strategy for Q4 will help everyone feel confident about how to take best advantage of the upcoming shopping frenzy (not to mention Fashion Week) through social media.
5 key components of social media audits
- Goals: Ideally there are annual or monthly goals assigned to each social media account. The audit acts as a check-in to see how often goals are being met, and if we are on track. Social media goals are typically a mix of sheer community size and engagement, as well as any trackable campaign initiatives, like website referral traffic.
- Strategy: An examination of the brand's current strategy regarding content development and publishing, audience engagement, unexpected results from networking through social media, as well as a snapshot of public brand mentions across various platforms.
- Competitors: What are immediate and aspirational competitors doing and where does your brand sit in terms of community size and engagement? What platforms are your competitors most active on? Are they doing paid advertising or partnering with influencers? If yes, what appears to be their approach. Understanding the current landscape can help ensure your ideas are fresh and new, while taking cues from what is working for others in the fashion space
- Evaluation: Is the cohesive social media strategy an accurate representation of current brand positioning? What are currently analytics revealing about key commenters, time of day variance, and what content consistently performs the best across each channel.
- Opportunities: Based on the evaluation, what recommendations do you have for how to improve? What opportunities, platforms, software, etc might be a worthwhile investment?
Once you have the audit in hand, you might seek to revise your current strategy and move quickly into executing identified opportunities. If you're audit reveals it's time to get a bit more strategic about social media efforts, revise your current plans to reflect the following:
Define clear social media objectives
As with any communications initiative, defining objectives essentially boils down to answering two questions: Who do we want to pay attention to us (target audience) and what do we want those people to do on behalf of the brand (conversions)?
Target audience is critical because it underlies every element of outreach, including what social sites are most popular among a particular group.
Empower employees with clear guidelines
Even relatively small fashion brands can have big footprints in social media. However, an audit may reveal social media handles, profiles or other presences established by former or current employees, corporate units or competitors. All of this can lead to everything from customer confusion to leaks of proprietary data, not to mention the all to common freakout trying to figure out what the password is.
In addition to checking out what customers are saying about a brand, PR pros must ensure every “official” representation of the brand is legitimate and have a clear policy about how employees should post about the brand, how to suggest content for official channels, and what the approval process is. It can be great to involve different teams in a social strategy, and the on-boarding process to be able to share a multi-faceted view of brand activity is often well worth the extra effort.
Consistently monitor the conversation
While it would be nice if consumers always properly tagged posts to make them easy for brands to find, this is not the case. Beyond the concept of dark social, brands should have alerts, keyword and hashtag searches in place to catch what is being said about your brand on social media – the good, the bad and the ugly. Customer service is a part of social media, so ensure you have a plan to escalate any grievances, as well as a plan for when you comment on a negative comment, and when to let it lie. When handled correctly, a complaint can be a great opportunity to build loyalty.
Develop social media brand guidelines
You may have brand guidelines for web and for print, but do you have them for social media? Do you have Instagram filters you prefer? What fonts are ok with which app? Do you have branded templates for image creation? Social media can be a place to relax brand standards a bit - but you'll want to ensure your content looks consistent across channels as well as with offline efforts.
Another element focuses on getting the execution of the brand’s social strategy in line with best practices for securing engagement from the public. For instance, Tweets are much more likely to receive Retweets if they include an image, particularly of a human.
Expand your expertise
If you're working in-house, consider a digital marketing agency or consultant to help you put together stronger analytics and processes to evaluate measurement. Agencies may find value in platform specific consultants, as well as employee training.
About Bernard Perrine
Bernard is the CEO & co-founder of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv. A founding partner and former corporate officer of Kinko’s, Perrine has also held leadership positions with Eastman Kodak and Microsoft. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Image via: Magnolia Innovative