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Data Touch Points in Your Social Marketing Audit: Part Two

If you thought Part One was a bit daunting, then you might as well delete any reference to this post. The following lists are what I refer to as "data points" that would be used from an analytical standpoint to break down each and every one of the categories on a per-social-channel basis.

The goal is for you to walk away with a strong granular understanding of your competition’s social marketing directives. Please note that some of the data points will not be defined as there are redundancies on a per-channel basis. Therefore if you see one that is not defined, more than likely it is your responsibility to "see above."

I recommend that you break down these data points inside a spreadsheet. I know, I know, open mouth insert bullet. Additionally, I like to color code my analysis once it is done – cause' it looks pretty. These are the color codes I use:

Green = yes; good; well within best-practices

Red = No; not falling within minimum standards

Yellow = problematic; dated; or to be altered

Gray = Inactive

It's important to note that if you drop these data points into a spreadsheet, you should take your time evaluating each element and write a brief description alongside your assessment. Bear in mind that this document is going to end up in the hands of management and other people outside your normal circle of influence. So provide an understanding of how you came to your assessment.

Keep it brief. Make it succinct. Economize with words – not that I ever do – sorry.

You get the point.

Throughout these data points I also have a ranking criteria of one through three. One being superior and three being insufficient or poor. You can expand upon this mathematical ranking if it suits your purposes.



  • URL: Outline your competitor’s website address.
  • UI / UX Intuitiveness: Does the website feel as though the usability is intuitive; does the navigation makes sense; overall do the colors, layout and content feel like the brand they represent?
  • Responsive Design: Has the website been designed in a responsive format?
  • Multilingual: Is the website multilingual - appearing to communicate to a global audience?
  • Primary Vertical: Does the website you're evaluating seem to direct its attention at a particular business vertical (e.g. automotive, medical, real estate, etc.)?
  • Website Ranking: People love to use website tools with ranking criteria when constructing a social audit. However, unless you're paying for these tools, the ranking is often misleading and/or inflated. I recommend if you're willing to pay for it. Nevertheless, utilize or any other free ranking criteria to establish a baseline.
  • Demographic: Does the demographic seem to sway more male or female; young or elderly; geographically, where is the largest audience?
  • Social On Index: Are icons or listings for their social graph listed on their website's homepage?
  • Call To Action: What is the primary "call to action" on their website; look for items such as "register now" or "call toll-free."
  • Up-Sell / Cross-Sell: Is the website intending to up-sell or cross-sell you on additional products and/or services?
  • Partners / Affiliates: Is your competitor working in conjunction with additional affiliates, organizations or partners?
  • Newsletters: Is there an allocation on the website for newsletter sign up?
  • Press Room: Is there an area on the website for recent press releases; how current is the last press release?
  • Key Differentiators:  Overall is there anything on your competitor’s website that is unique, thought-provoking or progressive?
  • Overall Impression: Establish an overall impression ranking.
  • Misc. Notes: I like to add miscellaneous notes to all of my categories; be sure to list anything that you find that was done well or was a complete fail within this area.  


  • Blog URL:
  • Unique Blog Categories: Many of your competitors will have categories similar to yours. Look for unique categories and envision them as key differentiators as they pertain to this data point.
  • Blog Activity (1-3): Look at the last post and make an assessment based upon your industry of whether that date is progressive, slow or outdated
  • Overall Impression:
  • Misc. Notes:  


  • Community URL(s):
  • Forums URL (if applicable):
  • Community Size (if applicable): Often you can find a publicly available list of members. Take note of the size.
  • Public; Private; Registration Required; Purchase Required: Is access to the community public, or does it require purchase of the product/service?
  • Community Wiki:  Is there a community wiki established?
  • Groups UI Format: Is the user interface format a traditional "forums board" or is it laid out more like a blog with associated comments?
  • Activity (1-3): Check the 10 most recent content entries and see if people actively comment and respond.
  • Misc. Notes


  • Facebook URL:
  • Likes: How many likes are listed?
  • Content Activity (1-3): How frequently are posts being made?
  • Thread Activity (1-3): How much conversation is taking place on posts?
  • Cover Photo CTA: Within the cover image on the top of the Facebook page, is there any graphical call to action?
  • Custom Apps: Does your competitor's Facebook page utilize custom apps?
  • Contest Offerings: Has your competitor created any interesting or engaging contests or promotions?
  • Connect Social Channels: Have any social channels been connected through your competitor's Facebook page?
  • Misc. Notes: 

Facebook Group

  • Facebook Group URL:
  • Public / Private: Is your competitor’s group public or private?
  • Members: If the Facebook group is public, how many members have joined?
  • Activity (1-3): What is the frequency of conversation within your competitor’s Facebook group?
  • Misc. Notes:


  • Twitter URL / @handle:
  • Followers: How many followers does your competitor’s Twitter account have?
  • Tweets: How many tweets has your competitor communicated?
  • Content Activity (1-3): There are a great many free tools that will rank activity for a Twitter account; in addition look at the most recent Tweet and assess activity based on the first page.
  • Klout: What is your competitors Klout score? It's important to understand Klout is merely a numerical ranking and should not be a statement of your competitor’s worth one way or the other. Use it only as a baseline.
  • Custom #Hashtag branding: Has your competitor constructed any unique #'s specifically for their own marketing purposes
  • Misc. Notes:

YouTube Channel

  • YouTube URL:
  • Content Network: Is your competitor's YouTube channel a single or multichannel network?
  • Subscribers: How many subscribers does your competitor’s YouTube channel have?
  • Video Views: How many video views does your competitor's YouTube channel have?
  • Content Activity (1-3): When was the last video uploaded; how many comments have been made about any number of videos that have been posted – both positive and negative?
  • Content Style: What is the production quality of the videos your competitors post within their channel; do they appear to have been shot on professional equipment and professionally edited?
  • Misc. Notes:

Linkedin – Company

  • Linkedin Company URL:
  • Followers: How many followers does your competitors Linkedin company profile have; how many services are listed and how well are they described?
  • Content Activity (1-3): Does it appear that your competitor’s Linkedin company profile is active?
  • Misc. Notes:  

Linkedin – Groups: 

  • Group Search Result(s): When doing a search for your competitor’s Linkedin company and/or services, how many group results are returned?
  • Largest Group: What is the largest Linkedin group that is returned from your search; does your competitor own and operate the largest group?
  • Linkedin Group URL:
  • Followers: How many followers does the largest group contain?
  • Content Activity (1-3): The groups on LinkedIn have a metrics pool located on the right-hand side; check the frequency of contact with in this tool.
  • Misc. Notes:


  • Google+ URL:
  • Followers: How many followers does your competitor’s Google+ page have?
  • Content Activity (1-3): What is the frequency of conversation and activity within your competitor’s Google+ page
  • Misc. Notes:

Google+ Communities

  • Google+ Community URL:
  • Public / Private:
  • Members: How many followers does your competitor’s Google+ community have?
  • Activity (1-3): What is the frequency of conversation and activity within your competitor’s Google+ community?
  • Misc. Notes


  • Pinterest URL:
  • Boards: How many Pinterest boards does your competitor have?
  • Pins: How many pins does your competitor’s profile have?
  • Likes: How many likes does your competitor’s Pinterest account have?
  • Activity (1-3): If you click on the "activity" tab you can see the perceived engagement against the channel.
  • Followers: How many followers do they have within their Pinterest account?
  • Following: How many Pinterest accounts are they following?
  • PinAuthority Score: One quick ranking tool among many is It will give you a numeric rank you can use as a baseline.
  • Misc. Notes

Instagram / Social Photo Sharing

  • Instagram URL:
  • Photos: How many Instagram photos does your competitor have?
  • Followers: How many followers does your competitor’s Instagram channel have?
  • Activity (1-3):  When was the last photo taken and what level of engagement is taking place against the last 12 photos?
  • Misc. Notes:
  • Alternative channel URL: Does your competitor have any alternative social photography channels in use?
  • Members:
  • Activity (1-3):
  • Misc. Notes: 


  • Slideshare URL:
  • Presentations: How many Slideshare presentations are listed within your competitor’s account?
  • Followers: How many followers does your competitor have against their Slideshare account?
  • Activity (1-3):
  • Misc. Notes:

Alternative Content Graph Points: Podcasting & Wiki

Podcasting URL:

  • Listed in iTunes: If your competitor has a podcast, is it listed on iTunes?
  • Followers: Is there any indication as to how many people are following your competitor’s podcast?
  • Activity (1-3):
  • Wiki Entry URL: Does your competitor have a wiki entry?
  • Misc. Notes:

I’ve done my best to construct the previous data points in a manner that you could collect without the expense of an online service tool. There are many tools out there that can do part if not all of this data collection at varying levels of expense.

Below I have listed a number of tools that are free and or competitively priced in order to do portions of this data collection. I recommend that you review them and determine if there is any service you would be willing to pay for outside of what they provide for free. Good luck, happy hunting and write me back and tell me what you've discovered!

Free / Freemium Tools for additional Data Points:

This is all the data points you'll need to have a kick-ass competitive assessment. What you choose to do with it next is a whole book in and unto itself but at least you have a map for that strategy.

What are your thoughts? What did I miss? How do you do your competitive assessments? Let's talk shop.


The New World Social Marketing Audit: Part One

If you're an interactive agency, integrated marketing firm or social media expert, then you need to realize how important it is to construct a social media audit for both your client and the competitive landscape. But before you dive into the project and get too caught up in the numbers, let me offer one piece of advice: Don’t get too caught up in the numbers.

Some competitors will have a massive online following and others will have virtually none. Forget about it. You are going to measure the value of your content against each individual competitor. 

Note the emphasis here is on the value of the content - not the number of followers. Stop trying to look over the urinal partition, because size doesn’t matter.

Sure, content is still king. Social media, search and marketing professionals continue to shower that phrase on us with the ferocity of a July thunderstorm in Florida. And they are right. However, there is a defined marriage between content and social media that can’t be overemphasized.

Let's talk about the construction of the social media audit. The first thing you want to do is look for pools of communication, content and activity. This can come in a much broader form than you may be accustomed to. It’s not just about Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube subscriptions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Start Broad

Look for areas of importance not only to your client's brand, but also to your competitors.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it is critically important to seek out the subtle "key differentiators" with a competitor’s business model. Do that analysis before starting to amass countless data points. You might find your competitor is using humor in an effective way, or deploying a video series that resonates. Your job is to look for ways you can edge out competitors by doing something new, or replicating something in a significantly better way. 

Their Website

When looking over a competitor’s website you should be doing all the standard "best practices" due diligence. Look for things such as their perceived activity, how often they update the content, and if they have changed the copyright at the bottom of the page since 2008. Now let's look a little further. Is the website designed for mobile? Is it done in a responsive design

‘Call to Action’ as the Baseline Goal 

Your competitor will have a "call to action." Ideally, this will feed the audience's behavior to perform actions such as download this, register for that, or simply pick up the phone and call. Within the context of that action, you need to discern the baseline trigger. Is it sales? Is it education? Or perhaps it is that the website is performing a portfolio task for your competitor to give the audience a broad-based selection of services. The content and call to action can perform a world of benefits for your research.

Newsletters and ‘Opt In’ Content

Does the competitor’s marketing arsenal include an invitation to connect through a monthly newsletter? If you haven't already done so, subscribe using a rogue Gmail account. This way you can filter all the newsletters and their directives without filling your inbox. You will probably find that the competition frequently sells the farm or gives away competitive advantages within these newsletters. Companies perceive subscribers as safe users and will divulge behind-the-scenes information or give you an edge on what is coming up in their business directives.


When researching a competitor's blog, first and foremost, what is the level of activity from your competitor as far as posting? The next thing to look at is how active are they in engaging their audience with reasons to comment, and in so doing, the conversation from those comments. Believe it or not, this is going to give you an interesting snapshot of how passionate their audience is. One of the last things you should look for is how progressive the blog posts are in terms of embedding video, presentations and linking criteria within content. This can give you a quick understanding of how savvy the writers are and how effectively they utilize other social media channels.

Other Established Communities or Groups

It’s fair to say most of the people who read my posts are a little bit past the beginner stage. That being said, I assume you are going to look for Facebook groups and Google+ communities, then start looking for the standardized forums and community posting boards. There are two important components of this research: Find out how active the community base is, and get a snapshot of the types of conversations taking place.

All conversation and engagement is great on some level. But if there is no real substance to the content, then it is idle chitchat and not necessarily beneficial to the brand. On the other hand, poignant questions and engaged followers indicate a powerful community.

A community audit is so important because passionate loyalists are very diehard. They will rush to a brand during a crisis and offer a trusted sense of passion around the product. Having done countless audits, I can tell you that if the community hasn't posted in six months, and if what they have posted in the past has been undirected, it usually says a lot about the product itself.

Established Forums

Look at the platform type of the community you are reviewing. Is it the old, traditional, default forums board? Or is it a new-school approach with more blog-like commenting threads and perhaps even a gamification model spun around the most active users? This will give you a genuine sense of community expectation. If I'm on a board discussing bass fishing, I won’t expect much more out of the technology used to host set conversations.

Magazines in the Vertical 

Why are we even talking about print? When I say magazines these days, it's a broader net than the traditional paper and ink. Think of it as e-zines, PDFs, white papers, YouTube channels, podcasts or any related content silo that might also be utilized for up-sell and affiliated advertising.

But don’t overlook traditional magazines. It still helps to have a general understanding of demographic and psychographic information of the users who subscribe or purchase. Additionally, they are aligned with particular advertising types. The camouflaged sales rep from “Field & Stream” probably won’t target Huggies for a full-page cover insert.

“Okay Justice, why is it important for me to understand my competitor’s advertisers?”

More often than not, the advertisers of your competitors are their competitors as well.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Not exactly, Mr. Churchill. But remember that research is a pebble tossed in a still pond. The ripples from the epicenter can sometimes be as important as core content.

Who Has Prominence in the Vertical?

Much like magazines, celebrities hold galvanizing weight with the audience as it pertains to the brand, and thus your competitor. If for instance your competitor has an extreme sports star such as Ken Block, you can also immediately make assessments against the demographic, as well as the affiliated partnerships that would surround him. Celebrities allow us to get a quick understanding of who might be following the brand. Celebrities act as a physical persona-based manifestation of the associated brand. This is great as long as your celebrity doesn't end up doing meth in Mexico with an underage transvestite. 

Celebrities and SMEs Have Their Own Social Graph 

And just like the ripples in the pond, the tertiary extension of that social graph can be who follows that celebrity or subject matter expert (SME). Let’s say Ken Block really is your celebrity endorser. Who follows extreme sports stars? Look at his social graph and how he is portrayed. Look at the followers. Look at who he's following. Look at the type of content he surrounds himself with and the social channels he or his marketing team have chosen.

Just a reminder, we are here to look for key differentiators, not necessarily to judge the social graph. So even while a celebrity might be at the furthest extension of your competitor’s marketing strategy, you might find a conceptual nugget to utilize in your own.

Alternative Content Channels

Podcasts: The intelligence you gather from your competitor on their podcast and video podcast can be quite massive. One of which is you get a snapshot of the intellect of your competitor. In addition to that, you also get to see what level of commitment they have to the development of this content, as well as how long they been doing it. Lastly, look at the way that way the content is produced. Does it have an intro? Are they affiliating themselves with other companies to co-brand the content? Are they interviewing others SMEs relevant to your industry? Additionally, take note of the experts, as they might end up being a good source for you to connect with on future related products.

Multi-author blogs or SME collectives: Dovetailing off of the point that I just made about podcasts, multi-author blogs and/or SME "collective"websites can be very popular for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you are aligning yourself, from a thought leadership standpoint, with the best in the business. The content you create inside the silos is also extremely valuable for search engine optimization. Last but not least, you are creating countless touch points that can ultimately refer back to your product, services and/or education.

SlideShare and Scrib: A lot of people take into account SlideShare accounts as a related touch point to your overall social graph.  If you're smart during your audit, you're also looking at these channels as proving grounds to the thought leadership of your competitor. Don't just simply browse the images if they have a slide share account, really look at the content and see if it's on point.

What do the presentations look like? You all know how I feel about keeping your graphic design level as high as possible. It interrelates between the value of your content and what it says about your brand. And how much on the slides themselves is indicative of searchable content? Food for thought.

Scribd? Really? Actually, yes. Keep in mind that any Internet space with a repository of searchable and indexed content and indexed is something you should know about. If your competitor is doing an admirable job putting educational or thought-provoking materials online within this channel, it's your job to know it. Also think, is there a way that you can exploit these channels? Either in the same way or some interesting new way that can provide a key differentiator.

This might all seem a bit overwhelming if you haven’t conducted a proper audit before. But the payoff is massive. After doing a deep dive on your client’s social marketing and that of the competition, you will have the proper perspective to evaluate your efforts. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn you are a promotional genius who doesn’t miss a beat. Or you might see gaping holes that will take a lot of duct tape to fix.

Either way, you will be even more valuable to those who depend on your expertise.

Tell me about your audit methodology, your favorite red wine - or your preferred bait for largemouth bass. Yes, all those topics are of great interest to me. I’m either a Renaissance man or the most genteel redneck you will ever meet.


The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday: White & Black Hats

I am blessed for one million reasons, one of them is for the growing professional and personal affiliation that I have with Pam & Josh Moore. They are at 110% the real deal when it comes to social & integrated media brilliance and professional decorum. That being said Pam's most recent article regarding "fake fans" and black hat tactics brought me to my own revelation.

1% of My Followers Are Fake • How Many Fake Followers do You Have? • @StatusPeople #FollowerSpam

I am extremely pleased with the metric you see. It’s important to me because I take great strides to right my ship out here on the turbulent sea of personal branding. But I won’t the first one to throw stones at people who have used gray- and black-hat tactics. Because I have been one of them.

I have … 

… bought followers.

… tried #followback tactics.

… used Tweet-adding software.

… automated cross-fertilization against social channels.

… designed and choreographed fictitious accounts.

… deployed topical redirect content.

… created rogue microsite content.

Am I a social-sinner? Yes.

Do I do it anymore? No.

I repented and turned my back on such directives. Now I’m trying to stay on a more righteous professional path. And who better to counsel sinners than one who has already lived in the darkness?

Now before you respond hastily with your twitchy finger on the “unfollow key,” let me tell you a little more about my youthful tactics.

Strength in experience; regarless of its shape

I would rather endlessly train to be the social-media equivalent of a Navy Seal than trust a room full of eager kids with new gadgets and untested abilities. That may sound like an old dog talking. But to be fair, I’m just as eager as any one of them to learn and understand absolutely every possible strategic and tactical scenario that I can. Most of you know that #FOMO is my middle name and all I want to do is learn.

One of the many things you have to do in a fledgling industry such as social media is kick the tires on just about everything. Nevertheless, as our industry has now shaped itself into a mature discipline, there is a need to work in concert with traditional inbound and outbound processes. Cheating the market and buying likes doesn't do you any good except with the uneducated viewer who perceives that higher numbers equal a better brand.

Status & Perception are the new deadly sins

It's this type of user that fueled these tactics over the past few years. "Perception versus reality" is something all integrated marketers have understood and crafted around to ideally tell an authentic story about their client’s product services or education. This uncontrollable desire for said perception is also the equivalent of the Devils contract.

To be clear, I've never used any of these tactics on a paying client. Nor have I ever knowingly destroyed a competitor's credibility with social media but I know how it's done. More utilizing my own personal brand is an experimental, or incubation test lab for these tactics. And just like bad grades in high school it has taken me 100 times more work to get back to a clean slate than to have muddied up with a quick fix.

Construct your vision

But of course there are some simple rules I would implement with any new client. One of which is simply make sure that you have ample content in your blog and social channels prior to letting the world know who you are. This is what I would refer to as a perception strategy and has the best intentions for both the product and the audience.

And let's talk about the audience. The social media strategist needs to understand that beyond a shadow of a doubt, their audience is learning faster and digesting more than every before and is unwilling to align with anything less than what they perceive is 100 percent authentic. Social media experts talk about "crisis management. But what they really need to think about on a day-to-day basis is likability, consistency, and being naturally infectious.

Create disciples not numbers

One of the most important things I’ve learned from the brilliant mind of Seth Godin (while I don't believe in everything that he says unconditionally) is that it is better to have 1,000 passionate individuals following you loyally than it is to have a million people see you as an acquaintance. This even stands true in my personal life. As a young man in my 20s you would have found me out on the town seven nights a week. This was not only fueled by my insatiable need for social interaction with my friends and growing networks, but also the narcissistic and insecure belief that I would be rendered irrelevant without constant presentation.

Who are you recuriting to your platoon?

This is when you need to take an honest look at your social brand and ask, "Who is following me? Why are they following me? And what do I need to provide them to create indefinite lifetime value?"

The audience should perceive your brand almost as an individual – a living, breathing person. Your brand should have the sense, persona, tone and manner of a best friend, mentor or subject matter expert.

Many within my collective will ask me if I would ever use these tactics again in the future? It's easy for me to say no, but I'd be lying if I said I don't want to know how they're implemented, what to look for, and how they could affect the future of my clients and their growth. Think of it like this: It's better to know how to shoot a gun and never use it.

Socially Born Again?

It's pretty much what you would expect the "Good Guy Manual to Social Media" to contain: 

  • Confront weakness with evolution
  • Create interesting and engaging content
  • Be fearless. But more importantly, be humble
  • Fall on your sword when you make mistakes
  • Continue to challenge yourself, and then challenge your audience
  • Be thankful for the numbers you have, because in your mind that "number" must = a "real person"

ROI: Return On Influence, Intelligence and Infectiousness

The bigger picture here is what you as a client want out of your integrated marketing firm/social agency. ROI still seems to revolve around increasing the number of followers, likes and subscriptions. What you don’t always see as a defined ROI marker is the bond you are forming with the clients you already have or are earning. This "earned media" is the staple of your social media power.

While it is important to grow your following, it's tenfold more important to nurture existing relationships.  So the next time that you sit down to discuss goals and objectives, scrap the fatigue of pressuring your marketing to generate a specific behavior — and focus on something more attuned to a "family behavior."

Check your head

Want to know how many fake followers you have? Just enter your Twitter handle in the handy-dandy little “Fake Follower Check” tool from Status People. I would love to hear your numbers, your thoughts on them, and about whether or not you are happy with your current tactics. Trust me, no stones will be thrown here ;)