Article

Greg Berezowski
Greg Berezowski 30 September 2019

5 Reasons to Analyze Your Competition on Social Media

Simply following your competitors on social gives you access to most, if not all, of the business intelligence you need to get started with putting together a custom strategy. It’s a low-risk and cost-efficient shortcut to building an effective plan that will bring you closer to achieving your business objectives. It’s worth your best shot. Find out more...

How does a business owner know how to do business? How does anyone know? 

Following industry best practices is one thing. Figuring out which of them work best for you can be a whole different story. 

The trial and error path is bound to work over time, but it inevitably includes some, well, error. And judgment calls that are easy for experienced marketers and business owners might not be as obvious for beginning entrepreneurs.

You probably guessed it by now: this is an article about how social media competitor analysis can help you accelerate your business growth by taking a shortcut to developing successful strategies.

Below are the 5 main reasons you should invest your time into social media competitive analysis, saving on other resources in the process.

1. It puts your results in perspective

Every social media presence should be based on a set of goals. Before you start putting content out there, define what you’re looking to achieve: audience growth, sentiment boost, conversions, or other results, tailored to your specific business needs. 

Tracking your performance is crucial in deciding whether you’re meeting your goals. But if your own stats are the only data at your disposal, how will you understand whether you’re actually making substantial progress? How do you evaluate a 6% growth in follower count over the course of a month?

You put it in perspective. Measuring your results against the performance of similar businesses will give you a good idea of how well you’re doing. Take a close look at brands that are successful in their field and have access to similar resources as your brand. Comparing yourself to Amazon or Nike makes little sense if you’re a small business.

Benchmarking against carefully selected competitors will help you define smart KPIs for your future strategies that hit the sweet spot between achievability and a healthy challenge.  

Facebook’s Insights include a free competitor analysis tool (Pages to Watch)

2. Great ideas are out there

It’s a common misconception that social media marketing relies primarily on building unique, viral content. The underlying idea itself is not wrong - social media are casual and visual, and it is important to find exciting and engaging ways to communicate with your audience.

But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Social networks are oversaturated with all kinds of original content, and desperate attempts to come up with something fresh and creative are not necessarily the key to success. Instead, you should focus on finding out what your target audience considers valuable.

Study the content strategies of businesses that offer a similar product or service - your audiences are likely comprised of similar demographics. Take note of top content. If a certain post type consistently performs well on your competitors’ profiles, pencil it into your plan. If you notice recurring themes or styles that generate spikes in engagement - you know what to do. 

Remember that analyzing your competition’s content is supposed to inspire and push you in the right direction in terms of creatives and types of content. Never copy someone else’s work - identify good ideas and make them your own, building them into your overall communications plan.

Identify great content ideas and consider building them into your strategy (Notion)

3. Strategizing in-house is cost-effective

Building an effective strategy is no easy task if you’re not a seasoned social media marketer. You can get it done with the help of pricey external consultants or agencies - or you can try to go the DIY route, making informed decisions based on intelligence sourced through competitive analysis.

Gathering insights from your competitors’ social profiles will help you figure out much more than just what type of content is likely to resonate with your audience. Look for patterns regarding the best times to post, the most effective hashtags, and the use of platform-specific features like shoppable posts.

Compiling a set of benchmarks and best practices observed on similar, successful sites into a custom gameplan is a good place to start. Keep a close eye on how your new strategy is doing and finetune it to optimize your performance over time. 

Your competition’s engagement rates are soaring? They must be doing something right (NapoleonCat).

4. It’s better to learn on someone else’s mistakes 

As I mentioned before, the trial and error method of chasing success is effective, but it requires time, patience, and some risk-taking. While testing different approaches to social media, you might take some wrong turns before stumbling across a strategy that works for your business.

The beauty of social media - it’s real-time interactivity - also happens to be a potential catalyst for PR crises. When operating a B2C business, you have to treat social channels as tools for communications, advertising, sales, and customer service - all at the same time. That’s a lot of moving parts, and one mistake is often all it takes to get people talking about you. Not all press is good press - nothing ever disappears from the internet, and negative opinions can stick to your reputation for quite some time.

Take note of how your competitors deal with tricky situations: unhappy customers, bad reviews, information leakage, and so on. Seeing how someone else deals with an online crisis is insightful in two ways: it helps you avoid whatever caused the problem and it provides you with a guideline of how to react once your social media following throws you a curveball. 

5. It’s easier than market research

Out of all the various B2C uses of social media, one stands out as a particularly practical means of improving your business. Social listening is the process of tracking online mentions of your brand in order to better understand your existing and potential customers and their feelings regarding your products, your image, and your customer service. Applying this practice to both your own and your competitors’ social profiles equips you with a deep understanding of how exactly you can better address the needs of your target market.

Feedback has never been more easily available. Customers share their opinions online all the time. Think reviews, positive and negative comments left on Facebook pages, detailed entries on discussion sites and forums. Social listening extended niche effectively provides you with first-hand feedback from real consumers that already care about the type of product or service you offer. It can, to a large extent, replace pricey and time-consuming market research techniques like surveys, focus groups, and interviews. 

Implement social listening into your strategy by watching what customers have to say about your competitors’ products and services. Pin down recurring issues that come up in your industry and check your offering against those findings. Improve your product in line with your newly gained customer insights and stay a step ahead of your competition.

So why don’t you give it a try?

The reality of doing business in social media is full of contradictions. Social platforms are supposed to be dynamic and authentic, yet success on social is often the effect of closely following best practices and finetuning them to fit your needs. 

Simply following your competitors on social gives you access to most, if not all, of the business intelligence you need to get started with putting together a custom strategy. It’s a low-risk and cost-efficient shortcut to building an effective plan that will bring you closer to achieving your business objectives. It’s worth your best shot.

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