As I mentioned towards the end of my last post, my questions on how social/digital media is impacting businesses and brands motivated to take this course. Since I’d love to engage in these discussions with you all I’ve decided to dedicate most of my blog posts to these questions and topics.
The first topic I’ve selected is how to conduct a quick, yet thorough digital/social audit for a brand – arguably the first step a manager should take prior to creating or adjusting the brands’ digital strategy. As you read today’s blog, please feel free to provide feedback, put forth additional questions that may come to mind and/or comment on best practices or tools that have worked well for you!
My past studies and experiences have led me to conclude that 4 key drivers are essential for brands to engage their target audiences and win socially/digitally:
Digital assets (think blogs, videos, images, reviews) provide the content to organically attract target audiences and later keep them engaged by delivering on their content needs. Optimization enables brands to be found digitally. Communities influence consumers, reinforce brand trust, amplify messaging through advocacy and can reveal key insights on the product/service. Finally, advertising can increase content reach and be effective (when used strategically).
As I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard?) I realized these four levers/drivers are too rich for a single post so today I will focus on the first – digital assets. My next post will focus on optimization and the third on brand communities and advertising.
PART I: DIGITAL ASSET AUDIT
To assess the strength and performance of a brand’s digital assets, I would suggest starting with a deep dive on what the brand puts forth in its brand and retail websites, social platforms and newsletter/emails. I would be sure to sign up for and follow all to facilitate tracking. Then, I would repeat the process for top competitors to gage where the brand stands from a competitive standpoint. Finally, I would think about the brand, its consumer and its current or desired strategy to make informed inferences on which practices, platforms and content make or don’t make sense for the brand, and what the priorities should look like. If you work for the brand and have access to analytics, I would certainly leverage these as you think about which areas to prioritize. You should focus on amplifying what you can do very well (and has been well received) as you explore new expansion areas. You also need to understand what consumers are looking at and for how long – but be critical. They can only browse what you have and more often than not, platforms/content don’t perform well due to the execution of an idea, rather than the idea itself. These are the assets I would start with:
Look at the navigation structure, the wealth and breadth of content, and unique features that may stand out (i.e. white papers, blogs, calls to action).
- Are all social accounts linked to the company’s website?
- Is the navigation clean, appealing and intuitive?
- How many pages of content does the site have?
- Is the site visual enough?
- If the site has an e-commerce component, how does that tie in to the main website?
- Would users have access to thorough product descriptions and reviews?
- Do you make it easy for them to purchase the product through a partner retailer or does the interface suggest driving sales through this owned channel is preferred?
- Is the site responsive – that is, does it adjust to screen size or is it hard to read on a mobile device? (Google now penalizes sites that are not mobile responsive)
Consider the brand’s own retail site/e-commerce page (if it has one) as well as partner retail sites (i.e. Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, etc).
- Does the brand have a “branded page” on Amazon or the equivalent on another retail site?
- How many photos, videos and content are available?
- How are the products described and how does that compare to how competitors describe their products? (Think about the consumer and the type of information they would search for and be able to quickly digest online)
- Do products have sufficient reviews? Is the brand appropriately responding to these?
- Does the brand attempt to cross-sell on individual product pages?
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
I would create a grid with all social platforms in which your brand (and competitors) participate in. Check all possible platforms to gage if the brand could have an inactive page that may make sense to take down or boost back up. Don’t simply rely on the social pages that link to the brand’s site.
- Within each platform, are the information and links accurate? Do any pages have errors?
- How many follow/like/subscribe to the brand?
- How frequently does the brand share content?
- How many comments/shares does the brand tend to receive?
- How does the brand interact with users after their initial post?
- Does the brand make use of any interesting tactics (i.e. contests, crowdsourcing, takeovers by influencers)?
Finally, take note of the breadth and depth of content, videos and photos, and how these are organized (i.e. YouTube playlists, Facebook albums, Pinterest board themes).
- What type of value proposition does the brand offer consumers who join their list?
- What type of content do they promise to share (coupons/offers, information/how to’s, or creative ideas such as recipes, party tips, etc).
- How often do they communicate and what are your thoughts on titles (which impact open rates), look and feel, and content? Do the emails truly add value for consumers?