I have seen a lot of posts recently on Social Business Audits or Assessments. I am not going to argue which term is better – to me they both mean an evaluation of the current state of something (organisation, process, system, enterprise, market).

However, a good assessment for social business must provide more than just an evaluation of the current state of an organisations social business situation. The assessment must have a clear purpose and for us at iGo2 we believe that a social business assessment must result in actionable insights. That is, it must result in a set of prioritised recommendations to improve the business outcomes associated with using social media and networks in the organisation.

A good social business assessment must :

1. Provide analysis, not just data
2. Include prioritised recommendations, not just data
3. Include a social SWOT analysis based on the data collected and the stated goals of the business being assessed.

However, what most posts do not do in any way is provide guidance on what social data should be examined. We do, and we recommend that it must be a 360 degree view that includes a brand assessment, assessment of some major competitors (for benchmarking), an assessment of your partners because 80% of all brand owners use partners to go to market and finally an assessment of your customers. An assessment must include an examination of your current social presence and how well that presence is being leveraged to support your social media goals.

However necessary,  assessments are a stake in the ground. Continuous improvement only comes with continuous monitoring and we strongly recommend that everyone has a monitoring process in place – not only to avoid PR catastrophies but also to ensure that trends are being measured. With this in place, social businesses can be much more agile and adjust their social programs and tactics rapidly in response to trending data.

Over time, organisations will want to move from just monitoring to include real time intelligence in their initiatives – what we are increasingly refering to as social business intelligence.

But whatever you call it, monitoring off and by itself is not enough. It is the assessment of the data; the analysis of the data in the context of the business strategies and goals that allows a business to make sensible decisions and adjustments to its social programs and tactics.