Tapscott and Williams posit that "the new mass collaboration is changing how companies and societies harness knowledge and capability to innovate and create value" (2006, p20). Whilst audits have been common practice in companies for the past 30 years, now, with the increasing expansion and fragmentation of the communication landscape and where "mass collaboration can reshape an industry overnight" (p31), organisations have no choice but to audit their online presence in addition to their offline activities. In doing so, brands can avoid oversharing, project a consistent voice and be best placed for dealing with crises.
The following is a rough guide to auditing an organisation's - or even an individuals' - presence online.
- First, list all online profiles where your brand has a presence, even if its an inactive presence: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Tumblr et al.
- Next, secure domain names on all sites (remembering to remain consistent - don't drastically vary usernames unless your are forced to). Some websites will do this for you, such as Know'Em.
- Check the levels of completion on each site - by this, I mean you should complete the very basic information, in particular contact details. That way, even if your brand isn't active on that site (yet), users can be directed to somewhere that is active.
- Branding - check that all logos, slogans and colour schemes are up to date. Consistency, consistency, consistency - the root of all successful branding, be it for companies or personal use.
- Style Guide - are all contributors sticking to the house style? Is the 'voice' consistent across all channels? In a socially connected age where the corporate voice is becoming irrelevant, its okay to be informal and engage with your audience, but remember that online content exists forever and one slip up can be to the detriment of the whole brand. If in doubt, don't post it.
- Content and Regularity - striking the balance between posting too little and posting too much is a fine art. You want users to know they can contact you via that channel should they have a query, but you don't want them to be checking your Twitter feed for the last time you were active. If in doubt, draw up a communications calendar, whereby you schedule posts/tweets, and respond to queries in a structured way.
- Sharing - vital for driving more traffic to your channels and increasing visibility is the option to share tweets or posts with other users. Have reshare options clearly set out at the end of each post. Similarly, you may choose to share interesting articles from other brands or opinion leaders too, but consider that you are not embellishing false or controversial viewpoints before you post.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and may vary from industry to industry. Such audits should typically take place once a month, or more frequently in digital industries where change lurks round every corner.