Searching online for resources to perform a social media audit will most often produce results that focus heavily on reviewing organic content, engagement, and social listening analysis (I prefer this outline from Hootsuite as a good jumping-off point). Less easy to find are the guidelines for performing a paid social media audit, which is equally—if not more—important.
At Portent, we perform social media audits (both paid and organic) for a variety of reasons. Before we start working with a new client, as a consulting service and as a regular part of ongoing management. These audits help inform strategy and take stock of what is working in the channel as a whole when it can be easy to get stuck reviewing performance by platform.
Performing a paid social media audit can be time-consuming, but the tools needed are simple: access to the ad accounts, pixel, and Google Analytics (or a similar reporting platform). When we perform a social media audit, we always work our way through a version of this checklist:
- Account Security
- Analytics Infrastructure
- Campaign Structure
- Ad Set Structure
- Audience Targeting and Exclusions
- Ad Set Placements and Delivery
- Ad Creative
- Landing Page Review
- Competitive Analysis
The above categories can provide a wealth of information and insights into your paid social media efforts. However, just as every social media strategy is different, every social media audit will be different as well. In this post, I’ll focus on four of the most important areas to audit, and how to get started.
The analytics infrastructure of a social media ad account includes the account’s tangible makeup: the Facebook pixel and events, the catalog, and any connected apps.
We rely heavily on Google Tag Manager at Portent, which has the ability to view pixel changes in preview mode. If you do not currently use a tag management system, Facebook has a few features in the platform that can help to debug any errors you see across the infrastructure stack. One of those is the Facebook Test Events Tool, which allows you to click through different sections of your site to ensure events are firing.
Once you troubleshoot your existing properties, you should look for gaps in event tracking. For Facebook, we recommend adhering to the available Facebook standard events as closely as possible. If you identify gaps in your tracked events, Facebook also provides an Event Setup Tool, which allows you to create events directly from the platform. Just keep in mind that creating events this way reduces the control you have over features like pixel fire order and double-counting since you can only edit those in a tag management tool.
After reviewing the analytics infrastructure of your social media accounts, it should be free of errors and back-end discrepancies.
Campaign + Ad Set Structure
The campaign and ad set structure of the ad account should be reviewed next. For all platforms, we address the following questions:
- Do campaign objectives map to end business goals?
- If not, are campaigns grouped into specific touchpoints in the customer journey?
- Are campaigns and ad sets structured to be free of audience overlap (both within a platform and between platforms)?
- Are the campaigns structured to allow maximum automatic optimization (for example, using Facebook’s campaign budget optimization or LinkedIn’s lifetime pacing for campaign budgets)?
Manual optimization and testing will always be a part of managing an ad account. Ensuring that campaigns are structured to increase efficiency and minimize redundancy provides cleaner test results and easier optimizations. Facebook outlines this practice in its Power 5 playbook.
Landing Page Review
While not directly in the ad account, ad destination pages are an often overlooked part of a paid social media audit. We recommend analyzing landing pages in two categories:
When a user clicks through from an ad, they should have a seamless experience with essentially no surprises. Does the landing page map back to both the creative style and call to action in the ad creative? Is the landing page appropriate for where this user is in their customer journey? The landing page for each piece of creative in the account should be tailored for experience relevancy.
The landing page where paid traffic is sent should be of high quality. Not only will a large volume of users be visiting this page, but there is an additional investment behind getting them there. Concentrating on page speed, accessible content, and action-focused design will greatly improve the success of your ads. For those looking to convert users, we like The 7 Principles of Conversion-Centered Design from Unbounce.
In Other Words
If you are completing your first paid social media audit, this will give you a great place to start. And as I mentioned earlier, auditing your accounts should be a regular part of your social media management efforts; we recommend reviewing this checklist in-depth at least once a quarter.