No matter what kind of business you have, you will be facing competition. These might be older, more established companies with loyal clientele and a legion of fans on social media, or they might be new competition coming out of the woodwork trying to destabilize your place in the market.
Getting the edge over your competitors is absolutely essential if you want your business to succeed, but that’s easier said than done - just knowing who they are and what they sell isn’t enough to beat them.
This is where social media competitive analysis and competitive intelligence come in.
What exactly is social media competitive analysis, and how do you collect the relevant intelligence? How do you use it? Read on to find out.
What Is Competitive Analysis and Why Is it Essential?
It has long been a mainstay of business practice, and crucial for your business’s success. But with the advent of social media and web analytics, the way you should conduct a competitive analysis report has changed.
These days you will have to look to more sources of information than you would have in the past. On the bright side, this also means that the information you are able to collect on rival firms has expanded dramatically - allowing you to build a very detailed profile of who your competition is, where their weaknesses are, and how you can exploit them to get ahead of the game.
Note that competitive analysis isn’t some kind of shady espionage. You won’t have to rifle through anyone’s drawers or piece together shredded receipts for the information you need. There is a staggering wealth of valuable, publicly available data that you can tap into with the right tools and guidance.
Another important thing to keep in mind when planning to do a social media competitive analysis is that you shouldn’t just be thinking of your immediate competitors. To really get the edge, you’ll need to expand your research and benchmark your performance against your industry and region.
The Benefits of Competitive Analysis
Measure and Finetune Your Strategy
See Where You Rank
Tailor Your Paid Strategy
Pick Up on Useful Market Trends
This can allow you to stay ahead of the curve in what’s ‘in’ and what’s falling out of style so that your content stays fresh and engaging. It will also allow you to avoid potential gaffs - and in an environment where any errors are very, very public, and mistakes can be screenshotted, the importance of this perk can’t be overstated.
To make the most of this particular benefit you’ll need the right social media competitor analysis tools. Namely a social media listening tool, and a source of content inspiration that you can rely on to spark your creativity and keep you in-the-know when it comes to what others in your market are publishing.
Put Your Performance Into Context
Let’s say, for example, that your engagement has been dropping lately. Just looking at your own data you might assume you’re doing something wrong. But comparing your data to content from your competitors can show you if that assumption is correct or if something else is happening.
Let’s say that you see their engagement has been dropping too. This may point to algorithm changes affecting your reach, rather than mistakes on your part.
Make Smarter Strategic Decisions and Investments
Many companies underestimate the importance of social media competitive intelligence, but with a well-defined and ongoing data collection strategy, the information you’ll have at your fingertips is invaluable and priceless.
Competitive insights like these are one of the key elements that can take your business decision-making from good to great. You’ll be able to adjust where needed to catch up or shore up your lead to stay ahead of the competition.
How to Do a Social Media Competitive Analysis
It’s more important for your data collection to be accurate and relevant. So let’s get started with your immediate surroundings and go deeper as you expand your analysis.
Start with your immediate competition. These would be the competitors you are likely already actively working to beat.
You’ll want to categorize your competition into a few key groups:
- Primary Competition
- These are your most obvious competitors. They are targeting the same audience you are, and/or they have a similar product to what you are selling.
- Secondary Competition
- These are competitors who are not quite in direct competition, either by the audience they target or the product they offer. Often these are businesses that offer a high-end or low-end similar product, or potentially businesses that offer a similar product, but to a different audience.
- Tertiary Competition
- Tertiary competitors are not your direct competition, but they are businesses that may still take up market share or become a problem when you want to expand your business or product range in the future. If you have a business selling plants, a tertiary competitor might be a florist.
Here you can make use of some excellent online tools. In particular, you’ll want to get your hands on a robust tool for head-to-head comparisons of your business against the competition.
You’ll also want to delve into their market position a little more. Find out who their customers really are, and what drives them to purchase from your competition. Is it price? Quality? Convenience? Compare your findings to the marketing copy they publish to decipher more information about their strategy.
One sneaky way to gather even more information is to sign up for whatever newsletters and educational content they have. You should also follow their blog and track their social media.
Every piece of information you collect like this is something you can leverage in the future to improve your own market position.
Expand Your Analysis
One great place to get started here is by doing a similar comparison to what you started with - but with a larger set of your competitors all at once. You could do this manually, but thankfully you won’t have to - with Socialbakers head-to-head comparisons, you can select up to ten competitors at once for an immediate and comprehensive view of how you stack up.
Look for competition within your industry and region - and maybe even spend some time thinking about areas you might have missed in your first pass, like competitors who might be conducting business in other languages. These are businesses you might miss with searches in only your native language, but they could still be eating up market share.
Another way to find competition you might have missed initially is by looking at your audience’s affinities. By this we mean the pages and brands your followers and customers also like. Sometimes these are harmless, and they can be an excellent opportunity to learn how to reach your audience more effectively, but you may also discover that your audience is also flirting with one or more of your competitors!
Give it a try with our free persona mapping tool.
Dig Deep With Benchmarks
Dive into both your paid and organic benchmarks to really get a feel for what’s working and what’s not - in context.
On the organic side, go platform-by-platform for a multidimensional view of your content’s success on social media vs. your competition. Connecting your social media to an inclusive, all-in-one social media management platform is the easiest way to consolidate this data, but there are also free social media competitor analysis tools that can help you out.
Free Social Media Competitor Analysis Tools:
But why not take it a step further? Dig up the posts your competition is promoting to get a feel for their strategic goals and the type of content you’re up against.
If you’re not sure which posts you should be promoting or how to recognize posts with potential, why not try one of these free tools?
How to Optimize Your Performance With Social Media Competitive Analysis
First things first: identify the areas of your strategy that are performing well and where you are falling behind.
Here you will want to look into the areas of your strategy that are underperforming and consider how best you can improve - your new data should help you see where and why you are not performing quite as well as you need to be and assist you to improve those areas.
Do you need to improve your content? This is not just a question of quality. Even good content will perform badly if parts of it aren’t tailored to your audience - consider tone, the information you are publishing, and even the format.
Let’s say you have an interesting data set. Would it perform better as a bitesize infographic or as an informative article? There’s no overall correct answer, it’s all down to what your audience would be more interested in engaging with.
What about your paid strategy. Based on the data you have collected, do you need to update and re-optimize the copy?
But don’t rest on your laurels with the parts of your strategy that are succeeding! Even the areas you’re doing well in can always be improved with new data.
One example of a data-driven change in strategy comes from French fashion retail leader, La Redoute. Partnering with Socialbakers, they made some game-changing decisions and increased turnover by a whopping 40% while simultaneously decreasing their CPC by 23%. Check out the full article here.
Once you’ve gone through the full social media competitive analysis report process and updated your strategy, it’s important that you go back to check in on your progress regularly. You can do this by comparing your latest results to those of your competitors to see if your efforts at improving your strategy are paying off.
You also want to be running through a full social media competitive analysis report regularly to update the information you have on your competitors and their market position. You need to know if new players have shown up and what your competition has been up to since you last studied them.
When you’re looking for the data you need, a comprehensive social media management tool with analytics and listening capabilities is your most valuable asset, but there are some excellent free social media competitor analysis tools available as well to help you out.
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