Do You Know What Your Competitors Are Doing on Social?

Do You Know What Your Competitors Are Doing on Social? Bridget Quigg Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

Regardless of where you’re at in the social process — research and planning, execution, or measurement —  you can benefit from knowing your competitors’ successful strategies (so you can steal ’em) and major pitfalls (so you can avoid ’em). Your competitors are often your best teachers on social.

Competitive analysis helps you identify fresh trends, tactics, and challenges as you plan your marketing efforts. You’ll get:

Norms for your market, especially on social where longstanding benchmarks don’t exist

New inputs for your roadmap for the next week or quarter

Ideas for content that could increase your audience engagement and social size

Best Practices for Competitive Social Analysis

How does one tackle all of this comparing with others in the industry? You start by making lists.

Identify Your Competitors

In general, your competitors fall into two groups.

Industry Competitors – Companies competing for the same market share, customers, and dollars that you are.

Aspirational Competitors – Brands from your space (or related spaces) that are operating in a way you’d like to emulate on various social channels.

The competitors in your industry help you set benchmarks for your audience size and engagement, and give clues about new followers to go after.

Your aspirational competitors really help you stretch yourself. How great could you be? Anyone remember the “Be Like Mike” ad campaign? It’s like that.

Twitter competitive analysis chart
This engagement comparison from the Simply Measured Twitter Competitive Analysis highlights both total engagement and engagement as a percent of followers for a group of brands.

Create Your Lists

To create your industry and aspirational lists of competitors, the following metrics help most.

Share of Conversation

Are there brands being discussed organically in conversations that you’d like your brand to dominate?

Use keyword research to find the conversations where social media users are talking about your product or industry and pay attention to brands mentioned in those conversations.

Share of Audience

How many people follow another brand on different networks? Do these people align with your target audience and ideal customer?

Collect data on the audience sizes for brands you compete with and look for demographic clues, like age, location, and interests via bios on Twitter, for example.

Chart that shows percentage of total Tweets by country
This pie chart shows what percentage of total Tweets mentioning a brand came from a particular country. It comes from the Simply Measured Twitter Account Report.

Share of Engagement

Is one brand excelling on a specific network? Which brands are rockin’ the replies, Likes, and, most importantly, shares and Retweets?

Make some observations and do some math on engagement per follower to get a sense of where you want to be with your own audience engagement.

Analyze Your Competitive Set

Now that you have your lists of competitors, you can break them down further into groups by network, such as Facebook or Instagram, or competitors for brick-and-mortar business. Whatever area you want to dominate first, focus your efforts there.

We suggest you cover the following metrics for each list, whether you do so manually or with the help of social analytics software.

The Complete Social Media Competitive Guide

Follower Growth

How many followers are your competitors gaining on a weekly or monthly basis? Which campaigns are working especially well?

Jot down their baselines regularly. It’s also important to watch for spikes in follower growth. This will help you identify key factors that led to success.

Engagement Levels

How often do people comment, Like, and share your competitors’ content on social and tag or mention them?

These engagement stats can be a signal that their content and tactics are resonating (or not) with people on a specific network. Noticing changes over a period of time will allow you to zero in on content that resonates with your target audience.

Facebook Competitive Analysis leaderboard
This “Competitive Leaderboard” from Simply Measured’s Facebook Competitive Analysis compares engagement, audience size, and posting frequency for brands.

Posting Frequency

How often do your competitors post new content? Should you be posting more or less frequently?

By paying attention to the relationship between your competitors’ engagement levels and posting frequencies, you’re one step closer to discovering the best ratio between these two metrics for your own brand.

Content Type

Are your competitors posting mostly photos, videos, or an equal mix? Are they generating original content for each network, posting cross-channel, or sharing user-generated content? How do their followers respond?

Track this information over a set period of time to gain real insights about which content works with the audience you market to every day.

Organize Your Findings

Now that you have a whole bunch of information on your competitors, you can calculate averages to monitor. They can be averages by network or however else you want to organize them.

A spreadsheet of weekly or monthly averages, a.k.a. benchmarks, will help you notice changes and opportunities to learn.

Template of table to capture channel-specific benchmarks
A table like the one above can be used to capture channel-specific benchmarks on a regular basis.

Put Your Insights to Use

Now, get out the kleenex and the champagne, because it’s time to compare your work to your competitors’. You’ll notice your strengths and also opportunities to pump up your current numbers on social. You’ll see your weaknesses and the areas where you’re threatened by an up-and-comer. This is all good.

Hang in there. Keep a cool head. And, focus your energy where you can most impact business goals, like web conversions, downloads, sign-ups, and purchases.

What are your tricks to beating your competition on social? Let us know in the comments below.

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Bridget Quigg

Bridget Quigg

Hello, fellow Marketeers. My job at Simply Measured is to tell Kevin and Lucy how awesome they are at running the blog. Because, they are.