Ready to play online private eye and investigate how your competitors are using social media to build brand awareness, drive engagement, and potentially earn new leads?
Meet your new research tool…the social media competitive analysis!
Performing a competitive social media analysis (or audit) — even if it’s only a quick, top-line look at your very closest competitors — is an important part of building your own company’s future strategies for content development, boost budgets, audience engagement, and response management across social channels.
It’s an opportunity to see what’s working, what’s not working, and to determine the best ways to leverage those findings to help amplify your own cross-platform social presence.
Below are 10 items we think are important to consider when setting out to perform your own competitive social media analysis. We’ve even included a FREE downloadable Excel template at the end of the list to help you get started!
The more competitors on your list, the more time you’ll spend analyzing them. Focus only on those competitors you consider to be the biggest threats within your market. Stick to the top 1-3 true competitors, then throw in an “aspirational” competitor for added insight (think of a big brand in your industry who’s really rocking social).
Make sure you locate all the social profiles of each competitor across all channels. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn? What about other channels like YouTube, TikTok, or Snapchat? Are all of their accounts active or are some dormant? Use your search engines (browser and in-channel) so you don’t miss a rogue profile. Also, be aware that social icon links on competitor websites might not always be up-to-date and/or might not always include every channel where the competitor has a presence.
Check to see if each competitor follows the best practice of using consistent branding across all active social channels. This can easily be determined by looking at a profile and cover photos, and seeing if they utilize similar verbiage and website links in the channel “about” sections, where applicable. Basically, you’re determining if the average user would be able to visually identify the competitor when moving from channel to channel.
This one is pretty straight-forward, but seeing how your own company compares in this area can provide that little extra “push” you may need to create/implement audience growth strategies.
How many times a day, week, or month does each competitor publish content? Does their cadence align with industry best practices? Keep in mind that posting too often can sometimes lead to follower drop-off, so see how you match up against the competition in each channel.
Are any competitors sharing super salesy content with pushy calls-to-action? Are they overloading their followers on industry news? Who is sharing the faces behind their brand through new hire posts, promotion shout-outs, or team member spotlights? Look for a variety of topics and themes. Really investigate what themes are performing best for each competitor with regard to audience engagement and think of how you might use that same theme in your own content mix.
Different than themes/topics, what you’re looking for here is how many images, videos, links, podcasts, user-generated content, live, or other content types each competitor has in each channel’s content mix.
Due to the shrinking of organic reach across most social channels, the phrase “pay to play” is becoming the norm. Companies must put dollars behind boosts in order to get their messaging beyond the fractional percentage of followers who might organically see a piece of published content. So, how do you tell which of your competitors are boosting content? Some platforms have tools — like Facebook’s Ad Library —make it easy to check. Other clues might be found in looking at the normal audience engagement any competitor’s content receives and looking for posts that fall way outside that. For example, if a competitor normally receives 2-3 reactions and no comments/shares on their content on Facebook, but you see a post that has 150 reactions, 25 comments, and 15 shares, it can be assumed that that post was boosted.
Do your competitors REALLY understand how each social channel works? Do they follow related best practices? Indicators of this knowledge might be: evidence of an effective hashtag strategy, SEO-friendly post text and/or captions, or engaging use of ephemeral content like stories.
How is the audience engaging with competitor content? Is the engagement positive or negative? How effectively — and how often — is the competitor responding to audience comments and/or reviews? What is the tone of the competitor’s response? Much can be learned and leveraged from analyzing competitor engagement across social channels.
Hopefully, with the above “what” and “why” knowledge you’ve acquired, you’ll be well on your way to rocking your own competitive social media analysis soon! To start you out on the right foot, we’ve created a free audit template to help you track the 10 items we’ve included above and to get you started on turning your insights into actions and strategies to grow your business!