It's the fourth monthiversary of Talked About Marketing and I've taken the opportunity to reflect on my business, undertake both a social media audit and a marketing review, and as a result of this I'm writing to urge you to do the same.
The fourth month of operations is a "weird" time to get all reflective but two things coincided recently that reminded me we don't tend to reflect or review as much as we should, to our detriment.
Find any excuse to go back to your roots
Last week, I had a meeting with a client that took me back past the place where I grew up so I built in a little extra time to sit outside my original family home and reflect upon my roots.
It's not something I reflect on often but I was surprised by how vivid the memories were. There was a cascade of recollections of past adventures with friends, the old walk to school, and even some lamenting over the now-gone, 15-metre tall poplar trees that I'd climbed many times.
I'm not sure I can see many direct parallels between that young boy and the middle-aged dad who stood there last week, other than the fact that of all the attributes that have developed or faded over the years, curiosity has remained a dominant feature of every waking moment for me.
For those of us running our own businesses, self-awareness of our core traits can only be a good thing so we know what we need to amplify or modify.
And remembering the innocent, naive version of oneself certainly enriches our appreciation for where we've arrived today. It's a rich opportunity to ponder whether the overall trajectory we're following is in harmony with how we'd like it be.
The more opportunities we take to reflect, the more effective and less drastic our course corrections can be.
As I sat near my childhood home, I was hit by how frenetic our marketing lives are as we keep pace with demands to feed the social media beast.
In this busyness, it's tempting to focus on the frequency and impact of our current activities and immediate gains (or losses), thus losing sight of the overall context of our enterprise.
We all started somewhere and I would argue we can only truly chart our progress by remembering our roots and re-engaging with the initial affliction that agitated within us and lead us to make changes and create our current pathway in the first place.
The elements of a social media audit, marketing review, etc
What deters many people from running a social media audit or other type of review, is a fear that such activity will either be too complex or pointless.
I argue that some reviewing is better than none and with a little dose of Stephen Covey (begin with the end in mind), we can take a first look at how we're travelling and gain some valuable insights to help us stay (or get back) on track.
I shared some thoughts on this with a vibrant group of vignerons, winemakers, brewers, and distillers last week in a workshop entitled, Social Media Messaging.
After we'd spent some time delving into the nuances of our companies' personas and starting the process of completing an empathy map to more deeply understand the needs and motivations of our ideal customer, we used these activities as a lens through which to review our social media activity.
If you do little else today than use the following questions to review your last few social media posts, you will be steps or streets ahead of many of your competitors.
- What was the content of the social media post?
- What was the original insight or idea that gave rise to the post?
- What was the activity goal, ie, what did you want consumers to do after seeing your post?
- Did your Persona engage with it as expected (depending on the scale of your operations and/or social media audience, you might be able to look at who reacted and determine whether they were the "right" or "ideal" people)?
- Did it meet your expectations or are there some improvements you'd make next time?
The beauty of this qualitative approach to a social media audit is that you get a glimpse of your activity in a warts-an-all way; blemishes are not hidden among averages as they can be in quantitative audits.
That said, there are many online tools and templates to help you build rigour and structure into your social media audits and two of them are available via these links. They are both Google Spreadsheets and will open up online. To make them your own, select File and Make A Copy and start working in your own version.
Of course, there are many paid tools, too, but for the sake of prudence I'd like us to prove we can apply the discipline of using these tools before buying subscriptions because, just like buying business books, having these tools "on your shelf" won't do anything for us unless we apply ourselves.
Hootsuite Social Media Audit. The beauty of this page is that it gives extra background before you get the template, including a prompt to check all your social media accounts for consistency in naming and wording.
Sprout Social, Social Media Audit. This article also includes a link to free, online template, but note that it more actively tries to convert you to buying a Sprout Social subscription. Nothing wrong with that, just be mindful that we need to prove to ourselves we'll stick at it before we invest too much time or money into any service.
Some practical social media marketing items to consider
Here is a collection of some practical social media items to consider as you conduct or plan your social media audit.
- Are you clear about who you are creating your posts for - your Persona(s)?
- Do your captions invite us in with a reason to consume your content?
- Are you making your social media feed useful and/or entertaining for us, or just constantly asking us to buy?
- Are you rewarding your fans/followers with attention and praise?
- If you have social media sharing buttons on your website, are they easy to use?
- Is your website content mobile friendly, remembering much of your social media content will be viewed on mobiles and it will contain links to blogs and other material on your website?
- Have you started holding back your content to go live when your Persona(s) are most likely to be active online?
- Are you being sure to "check in" with your posts to ground them geographically and hence making them more likely to be seen by local users?
- Have you started exploring and listening to podcasts so you're aware of that growing ecosystem?
- If you're using Instagram, have you made good use of you bio link insofar that it takes users to a helpful landing page? See example of Talked About Marketing bio link in image.
- If you're using Facebook, have you experimented with Live video?
- If you're using LinkedIn, do you keep an eye on who's viewing your profile? See example of a screenshot of my LinkedIn profile today.
Some closing thoughts about reflection
Looking more broadly, at a business or marketing review, similar principles apply. Namely, we need to be clear about our goals (a measurable outcome - goals have either been achieved or not achieved), the strategy we've set down for achieving those goals, and the current set of tactics we are using to achieve our goals.
And it is within the strategy aspect that we are mindful of our ideal customer or client, how we benefit them through the value we bring, and what factors motivate (or demotivate) them to choose our products or services.
Certainly, any degree of taking stock will have some value but if you move beyond the shoot-from-the-hip marketing strategy approach to apply some research, observation, and reflection, you will increase the chances of uncovering insights that might otherwise have been overlooked.
This is why this unusual timing for my period of reflection has compelled me to share this article with you.
And my final thought is to urge all of us to maintain an attitude of gratitude as we encounter successes along our way. My urging to take time out to reflect as often as possible is not about getting cocky or finding material for bragging, but rather to appreciate each little win with much thankfulness and a mindset of thoughtfulness to savour the outcome and the mixture of hardwork and serendipity that lies at the heart of most success.
As this video reminds us, there'll be time for a little celebration later, let's just make sure we have the job done, first!