When Competitive Metrics Aren’t Making Sense, How Do You Refocus?
Competitive analysis isn’t always easy. Many factors influence which brands you should view as social competitors. Sometimes those you stand to learn the most from aren’t your closest competitors by market share. Focusing on the wrong metrics or competitors can sometimes leave you with unexpected results and an unclear path for how to act on your findings.
Does that mean that we should just forget about competitive analysis altogether? Of course not; refocusing your approach can enable you to set better goals, optimize your content strategy, and measure success relative to key competitors.
To show how you can refocus on competitors to deliver meaningful insights, we’ll look at sample data for a handful of B2B brands from the Interbrand Top 100 Brands.
Take a Social Snapshot:
Start by evaluating the social audience size and fan engagement of your key competitors.
Look for outliers in your competitive set. Would eliminating a competitor or two help you zero in on a game plan? The chart above displays a fan page comparison for top B2B brands. The size of Intel and GE make it nearly impossible for brands like Cisco to put growth and engagement levels in perspective.
Market share doesn’t always align with social share of audience and engagement. While it may be useful for finding where you stand, if you’re Cisco, this isn’t a helpful comparison for goal setting.
Instead refocus on closing the competitive gaps that are within your reach and correcting scenarios where your social presence may not reflect your position in the market.
Narrow the Field:
Zero in on the competitors that matter most to your brand.
Choose the competitors you can learn from. Select brands that have developed audience sizes that rival or exceed your own, and have engagement levels you’re seeking to match. IBM would be much better off benchmarking against the group of B2B brands shown in the example above.
Make sure you focus on brands that have healthy communities. Those with tons of follower growth and just as much spam are certainly ones to avoid.
Measure Success Competitively:
After narrowing in on which brands belong in your competitive set, identify the competitive average. The competitive average should serve as a tool to benchmark performance and check your goals against.
Comparing your brand to overall competitive trends will help you identify where your competitors are succeeding, when you’re not. This can also help you determine whether changes in performance are the result of your own actions, rather than larger market trends.
Ensure that you are setting aggressive yet attainable goals for your brand. Set goals that will help you close the gap on or exceed the competitive average. Caution yourself against declaring your efforts a success if your brand is falling short of these goals.
Identify Successful Tactics:
Correlate peaks in competitor fan growth and engagement to determine when brands are increasing their audiences through successful social tactics.
Examine whether post frequency or specific content types are driving changes in engagement. Understand how industry news and competitor announcements impact these metrics.
Identifying outliers should be a familiar tactic. This is something you should already be doing to optimize your own content strategy. However, when you expand this tactic to analyze a competitive set, you can identify competitors’ content strategies and audience engagement trends within your industry.
Dive into Top Content:
Top content shows you which posts are helping your competitors move the needle. What can you learn from these posts to improve your own content? Make this learning process simple. Identify the top 5 to 10 pieces of content, and make a list of potential reasons WHY these posts were so successful.
What does your content lack that your competitors are winning with? Incorporate successful elements that will improve the way content resonates with your own audience.
I'm a Marketing Manager at Simply Measured. It's my job to deliver content in a way that engages and informs social media professionals. My areas of expertise are marketing automation, conversion and social media analytics.