Wendy Lewis offers up a foolproof plan to manage your social media strategy without losing your sanity
Can’t tell your retweets from your regrams? Having trouble deciphering hashtags? If juggling multiple accounts and trending topics is making your head spin, you’re not alone. We’re all starting to feel overwhelmed in light of the constant changes, frequent updates, and new rules.
Social media has come into its own, and it can be a beast to nail down for a busy practitioner. Before you can figure out how to manage your clinic’s social media presence, you need to start with an audit that will help navigate what is working, what your competitors are doing, and what needs remedial help STAT.
The term ‘audit’ may cause your blood pressure to rise but think of this exercise as more like a diagnosis than a set of spreadsheets and formulas accompanied by a whopping tax bill. A social media audit is just what it sounds like; it is a valuable tool to guide you. An audit is an overview of all of your activities across the range of platforms where you have a presence with an eye towards evaluating your strategy to make ongoing improvements to maximize your efforts.
An audit is a simple and organized way to take a deep dive into your online footprint. It is designed to make you think differently and put details and numbers on a form that can help you to be successful and cut out all the fat. Plus, there are a plethora of analytical tools at your fingertips to help you fill in the blanks.
Most marketers strive to do a social media audit at the beginning of every month. If that seems overwhelming, commit to every other month, or at a minimum, quarterly. Less frequently leaves too much of a gap for you to be effective and jump on any negative trajectories before they take hold.
Look at it this way; the first one is always the hardest. Once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature and can be easily integrated into your marketing plan.
Step 1: create a customized social media audit template
Best practices call for a digital format that lives online, so every member of your clinic staff and marketing team has access to the document, so you can assign roles and track progress and compare results at specific intervals along the way. Google Docs is a good (and free) option, or you can use a project management program or app, such as Trello, Basecamp or Todoist.
There are six essential elements for your template:
- Company name and URL on all platforms
- Engagement metrics
- Posting metrics
- Audience demographics
- Referral traffic
- Metrics for all of the channels you are on.
For each metric you use, include the percentage change from the previous month, quarter and/or year so you can track your progress over time.
Include a separate a tab for each individual social channel (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Then include the metrics that matter to each specific platform. For example, retweets for Twitter, regrams for Instagram, comments or questions on Facebook, etc. Lastly, add a summary tab to your form to tally up results.
The holy grail of social media marketing is engagement, not just the number of followers or likes. In fact, likes are often the least important measurement to focus on. Posting comments, asking questions, and shares demonstrate a far greater investment of time and interest in your content.
Step 2: identify all existing social media profiles
Make sure you know every platform you have had a profile set up on, even if they are not all active. At the same time, claim your clinic name and your own name on any possible channels that you may decide to become active on in the future. By reserving your name(s), you are essentially blocking someone else from beating you to it. You do not have to be active everywhere, but it is wise to at least reserve the right to revisit any platforms in the future. Otherwise, you can end up having different variations of your name on each platform, which makes you harder to find for patients and colleagues
Once you have all your current social media profiles collected, decide which platforms you want to focus on.
For most clinics, this will be:
- WordPress (Where your blog lives)
- Instagram (Owned by Facebook)
- LinkedIn (Owned by Microsoft)
- YouTube (Owned by Google)
- WhatsApp (Owned by Facebook)
- Google + (Owned by Google)
In general, anything owned by Facebook and Google is worth paying attention to.
New social media channels pop up all the time, while others change their model, and some fade into oblivion. You do not have to jump on every new app you hear about, but you should at least be aware of what else is out there. Occasionally you may find one that speaks to you and becomes an early adopter to get a head start on the competition.
In your social media audit spreadsheet, highlight new platforms you want to explore. You don’t have to stick with just the basics either. Some users get acclimated to the classics like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tend to get lazy and stick only with those.
Below is a current list of the most popular channels to see how many you are using. Consider expanding your reach by adding some others that may be relevant to your practice and target audience. It is always practical to stay on top of emerging trends.
In terms of sheer numbers of users and traction, the top three performers are Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Keep in mind that social media success is not based on how many active monthly users each platform boasts; but rather how many of them you can connect with.
Do you understand the differences between platforms? If you’re not entirely sure, get educated on the nuances of Facebook vs. LinkedIn vs. Instagram to gain a better grasp on what the user experience should strive for. LinkedIn, for example, is a professional network, so users don’t really want to see content about puppies, babies, holidays, and birthday wishes. They are more inclined to respond to business news, statistics, surveys, and trend data. Instagram is all about gorgeous, eye-catching visuals and compelling Stories.
Then consider whether you are creating content that fits within these differences effectively or just posting identical content across each platform in the same way. Once you know which platforms are performing well, and what your goals are to be on each platform, revisit your plan. If your only reason for being on Snapchat is because a few of your competitors are there, think again. Snapchat skews very young and has morphed into a messaging platform
In many cases, there may be some discrepancies between how you are using each platform. For example, does your staff respond rapidly to Facebook messages and emails, but ignore Twitter direct messages? To make social media effective, your content has to be relevant to the user and specific to your brand’s goals.
Step 3: analyze active social media profiles
Once you have isolated the key social profiles to examine, look at the data to learn how each of them is performing for your practice. The most important metrics to determine how your profiles are performing areas are engagement, link clicks, shares, referral traffic, and impressions.
Once you start entering the data into your form of choice, it will become clear which channels are your best performers. You will also be able to note any areas of potential opportunity, as well as the channels that require more of your time, efforts and budget to be effective.
Step 4: identify best performing content
Your total count of fans, followers, and page likes represents the number of unique people who have taken an interest in your practice on social. Ideally, you should continually strive to grow your following by sharing the right kind of content to the right audience at the right time, and by engaging your audience to attract new fans.
If your posts are not engaging and resonating with your followers, you will not be in a strong position to grow your network. Use your audit to review the content you have shared and to identify which posts have had the most significant impact.
You can access these metrics with the analytic tools to be found on most platforms. For example, on Facebook, you can get a detailed analysis of your number of page likes. Go to your page and click the Insights tab. Then click Likes in the left navigation. You can see your total likes, as well as gains and losses of likes over a designated time period. This helps you monitor your audience’s response to specific posts and to determine which times are best for attracting new fans.
For Snapchat or YouTube, there are some alternative ways to track your content’s performance. With Snapchat you still have to track engagement manually with a spreadsheet or other analytics tools, which can be a deal breaker in my view for serious business users. Third-party social analytics tools allow you to create reports to monitor your progress and are highly recommended. Using a social media dashboard comes in handy to monitor multiple platforms and is a worthwhile investment.
Some of the most popular to consider:
This exercise will help to provide a clear picture of exactly which type of content is working well on each channel. It also gives you clues as to what content is going to be more successful so you can do more of that for subsequent social media calendars.
Next step is to identify your most shared content. Look at the content on your social networks to determine which posts are getting the most social shares, and then break it down per network.
One way to find out is by checking buzzsumo.com. This platform allows you to quickly identify what content is working well in our industry and who the major influencers are. In the Content Research tab, enter your domain name. Filter the results to show the last 30 days that is if you are tracking these metrics on a monthly basis.
Find out which social networks drive the most traffic to your website, which can be found in Google Analytics under Acquisition. This data will help you understand the best types of content your audience shares and responds to most, so you can create more of that.
Best content types
Not all content is created equal. Do you know what content buckets work best for your brand on each social media channel? If not, find out before you waste any more time creating content that is not resonating with your target audiences.
If your tweets generate a lot of attention, but your Stories don’t get engagement, create a strategy to rev up the performance of the latter and do more of the former. For example, if your lifestyle-themed posts are getting more likes and shares than any other type of post, create a strategy to prioritize those topics and to test how it resonates on other channels. By monitoring your content progress, you can take advantage of every opportunity to engage your customers’ habits and specific interests. It also sends up a proverbial flare when something shows promise to deliver results for your brand, so you don’t miss any potential opportunity.
Just monitoring the number of tweets or Instagram posts you put out is not a viable measure of success. Regular posting is important, but you don’t want to shout into the void. The amount of content you put out there is just one component because you need enough content to stay active and in the game. But quality trumps quantity. Understanding which posts get real engagement will help you maximize your time and efforts to generate the right results.
Step 5: give your practice a consistency checkup
Your practice brand should be immediately recognizable across all of your social media profiles. When there is a disconnect between your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, it can be difficult for patients and followers to determine which profiles are official, or if they are even following the right practice, medspa or doctor.
Consistency is critical. For each profile complete these tabs:
- Bio: enter the bio copy
- URL: add the URL to your bio
- Verified: is the account verified? This is a complex process but worth getting started
- Brand guidelines: make sure all your social profiles follow your brand guidelines. From cover photos to profile image, bios, logos, the About Me sections, and visuals associated with your profile, it should be consistent and recognizable as your clinic brand. Your voice should be the same or at least similar on each platform.
Look through all of your bios and URLs. Every bio doesn’t have to be identical, but they should all have consistent messaging. I am an advocate of using the right tone and verbiage in each platform that best relates to the user. For example, the Facebook user wants to consume content in a different way than the Instagram lover. Therefore it is unwise to duplicate your content across all social channels. If you’re posting the same content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, why should someone follow you on all of these platforms? Changing up the type and format of the content posted on each platform gives people a reason to follow you on everywhere you have a presence. Lastly, have a look at the URL for each profile which should also be consistent throughout your social media plan.
If your social media graphics are not consistent, gain back control of your online brand. This often happens when you have too many people, staff or competing external agencies managing your social media platforms. It can also be the result of not protecting your logins and passwords sufficiently so that when someone leaves or gets terminated, you need to start a new account because you can’t get Twitter to respond to help you log in to your old one. It is very frustrating.
Step 6: Analyze the competition
Identify a handful (4–6) of practices you respect who are doing social well, and include your key competitors. Use these as your baseline and perform a competitive analysis to see how your own efforts fare against what your competition is doing. This should be integrated into your monthly social audit to stay on top of the trends.
Take a close look at the channels they are active on, follower counts, and the audiences they attract. If you start to track their progress, you can see how their efforts in terms of growing their social media prowess compare to your own over time.
Look at the general percentage is of promotional content vs. curated content (from an external source like a news site or professional organization). Review the buckets of content they are posting, how often, and what content seems to be working best to generate ideas for any strategies you may be missing out on.
Next, check to see how they are promoting their practice via social media in terms of boosted posts, sponsored posts, ads, tabs, and more. Now see how your results stack up.
This exercise will shed new light on what other practices are doing to help gain perspective on your own strategy.
A social media strategy should not just focus on what you want to put out into the social universe; you also have to listen to your fans and followers. Get a sense of how consumers, patients and colleagues are talking about your brand and where. This can be enlightening to learn how they feel about your practice and brand. Check on whether they tag you in their Instagram stories or recommend you to their friends, and how you can ethically reward them for their support.
An effective social media audit should examine all platforms, content types, performance, consistency, as well as your audience(s) and will also shed light on when it is time to trade up in terms of who is behind your social media and what is driving their decisions. Think about what sort of resources you can set aside to make your social presence more interactive.
Although an audit will take some ongoing effort, it will be a worthwhile investment. You can find out what is working for you, what can be improved, and who your audience is. The results will help you create stronger social media campaigns moving forward. Use your social media audit as a blueprint to keep improving your results and honing your social skills. You will find that it will pay big dividends in the end.