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How Competitive Analysis Can Transform Your Social Marketing Plan

It’s hard to motivate yourself to run competitive analysis when you’re just trying to keep your head above water as a social marketer, but investing time and resources in this form of analysis offers you unprecedented clarity–and also makes other parts of your job a lot easier. Here are just a few ways by which competitive analysis can transform your social marketing plan.

Do You Even Know Who Your Competitors Are?

The first thing you should do is listen in on the organic (earned) conversation happening around your industry, product, or target topics on social.

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This will help you understand which competitors you should focus on–who is stealing share-of-voice from you right now?

Evaluate Spikes In Real Time

These may come in the form of audience growth, engagement, specific engagement metrics like content shares vs. comments, or number of brand posts.


Having a competitive dashboard running means you will be alerted when your competitors are making big moves or capturing a lot of attention, allowing you to run counter campaigns, respond quickly, or immediately double down on one social network versus another.

Come Up With Your Benchmarks

Regular competitive analysis helps you create benchmarks for your own brand. For instance, what is the average engagement per day for the brand you see as your competition? How often is their owned hashtag being used on a weekly basis? What does a successful campaign look like for your primary competitor, in terms of engagement, follower growth, and connection depth (i.e., comments and conversation vs. a simple Like).

Your competitive benchmarking and analysis can get even more specific, like in the chart below.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-3-15-27-pmRemember that the brands you benchmark against don’t necessarily have to be competitors for dollars in the bank, or even within your industry: they can be competitors for a certain brand voice or visual association you are trying to foster with your target audience. Your target audience only has so many hours in the day to interact with brands on their social feeds; you want to make sure your brand is front and center, and, if it’s not, understand why.

How to Make Social Marketing Decisions Faster

Running competitive analysis on the brands you choose to benchmark against helps you understand where you’re advanced and where you’re falling behind. It also expands your access to data about your target customer, helping you understand what these folks react well to, what they ignore, and what they straight-up dislike–so you can create better content and conversions in the future.

Keep an Eye Out for Repeat Campaigns

If your competitor is reusing a campaign, chances are that’s because it’s working, meaning it’s hitting goals the social team has set.

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Consider what this means on three levels.

  • How your competitor is positioning itself
  • How your competitor’s audience is reacting to this positioning (probably a big overlap with your target audience here, so especially worth paying attention to)
  • What it means for readjusting your brand’s content–or not

This is the kind of insight you’ll only get if you’re running competitive analysis. Otherwise, you’re operating in a vacuum with no external point of reference, which can be very dangerous.

Use Your Own Attribution Numbers

We briefly touched on this in our latest webinar about 2017 recommendations. To understand the business value your competitors might be generating from a particular social channel, campaign, or period of time, first you’ll want to figure out how awareness metrics like engagement relate to visits and revenue for your own brand.


You can do this with a social attribution software solution. Once you’ve established your average ratio between engagement and conversions, you can estimate what that ratio looks like for your competitors (since you obviously don’t have access to their conversion/revenue data), and run competitive analysis on a regular basis using this ratio.

Convinced you need a deeper look at your own competitors? Reach out to us now by clicking below. We’re here to help.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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