Every business faces competition, regardless of industry. Gaining an edge over your competitors is essential if you want your business to succeed, but just knowing who they are and what they sell will not suffice.
A social media competitive analysis therefore plays an important role as it provides businesses with insights into competitor information and intelligence on their business behaviours, customers, and more.
However, with the advent of social media, the way a competitive analysis is conducted has shifted significantly. With an array of platforms available, a thorough analysis is required across multiple sources, but 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 more.
From identifying rival firms and fine tuning your strategy, to benchmarking your performance and spotting market trends, a social media competitive analysis will touch every aspect of your business performance and potential success.
Competitive insights are one of the key elements that can take your business decision-making from good to great. Using the analysis that you have conducted, you will be able to adjust where needed to stay ahead of the competition.
How to Do a Social Media Competitive Analysis
Step 1: Start Small
A competitive analysis can seem like a monumental task. Start small with your analysis and slowly build on the data you have. Start with your immediate competition. These would be the competitors you are likely already actively working to beat.
Each competitor will have different advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to understand their performance in a multidimensional way. Once you have identified other businesses in your space, categorize them and map out the strengths that make them a threat to your business, along with the weaknesses that you can exploit to gain the upper hand. You will 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.
Step 2: Expand Your Analysis
After your immediate competition, it is time to expand your reach and understanding of the playing field. 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.
At this stage, you will also want to increase the scope of your analysis to look at more than just your immediate surroundings. 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.
Step 3: Dig Deep With Benchmarks
You will want to benchmark your content performance against a wider set of industry, regional, and market players. Dive into both your paid and organic benchmarks to really get a feel for what works and what does not.
On the organic side, go platform-by-platform for a multidimensional view of your content’s success on social media versus your competition. One thing to keep in mind though is that it is not just your image and text content that is important to benchmark. Videos are becoming increasingly important across every social media network, and it is imperative that you benchmark your video performance against that of your competition as well. On the paid side, it is your ads and promoted posts that you’ll want to be keeping track of. Compare costs with other businesses in your industry and region with ads benchmarks.
Benchmarking your paid strategy against the competition is an excellent way to improve and make informed business decisions around your promotions – with a more comprehensive view, you can reduce costs and improve click-through rates.
Optimizing Your Performance with Social Media Competitive Analysis
Once you have collected the data from your social media competitive analysis, it is time to put it to use.
Firstly, identify the areas of your strategy that are performing well and where you are falling behind. You will want to look into the areas of your strategy that are under-performing and consider how best you can improve.
Ask yourself if you need to improve your content. This is not just a question of quality. Even good content will perform badly if parts of it are not tailored to your audience – consider tone, the information you are publishing, and even the format. Another area to look at is your paid strategy. Look at the data you have collected and determine if you perhaps need to update and re-optimize the copy.
It is important to conduct 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.
Social media competitive analysis is the bread and butter of a successful marketing strategy and should be an integral part of your business decisions. Use it to understand both your competitors’ performance as well as your own, all in the context of your industry and regional market.
Co- written by Jacob Porteous, Jr. Content Marketing Writer