How to Conduct Social Media Competitive Analysis

Improve Your Marketing Strategy With Social Media Competitive Analysis

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Two people looking at grapsh representing the results of a social media competitive analysis.

Social media has changed marketing forever. Whether someone’s sharing a post using your hashtag or following your Twitter, social media marketing offers plenty of opportunities to connect with customers. Over half of the world’s population now use social media. That means there’s a lot of marketing opportunities, but also a lot of competition. You need more than an Instagram page to have the edge over your competitors, and that’s where social media competitive analysis comes in. 

What is competitive analysis?

Competitive analysis is the process of comparing yourself to your competitors. It’s a great way to see how they’re killing the game and spot room for improvements. Based on what you find, you can make changes to your own strategy. This will ensure you’re fulfilling customer needs where your competitors fail to. 

What are the benefits of social media competitive analysis?

  • It’s a way of making informed, data-driven marketing decisions.
  • You can gain a wider and deeper understanding of your audience. The likelihood is that your competitors have similar audiences to you, and so competitive analysis is a great step in understanding your target consumer profile.
  • It gives you a wider understanding of external marketing trends.
  • Conversely, you can also recognize potential social threats. If a competitor’s post goes down like a lead balloon, you can analyze why and avoid making the same mistake!
  • You know your competitors’ strategy in great depth, thanks to social media. Thanks to this, you can understand your competitor’s strategy in great depth, allowing you to fine-tune your marketing strategy in response.

Your competitors’ social media is an open book filled with data that you can use to your advantage. It’s time to use it! Don’t worry. It’s nothing shady. The type of data used in a social media competitive analysis is zero party data, meaning people have chosen to share this data. So, feel free to go ahead and use it. 

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How to conduct a social media competitive analysis, the right way

Rifling through social media data can seem quite overwhelming at first. There’s a lot of information when you scratch below the surface of businesses’ social media profiles. In this article, you will learn how to secure, analyze, and use competitors’ data. 

Step 1: Find competitors

A useful tool that allows you to identify competitors is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Though you might think you know what keywords your customers are using, keep in mind that sometimes customers won’t search for your products or services by how you named them. 

For example, let’s imagine an entrepreneur is looking at starting a tech-based small business phone system. After researching call center stats and recognizing the decline in ISDN, they decide to sell VoIP phones. Realistically, customers are more likely to be searching “what is fixed voip?” than “voip phones for sale.” A better keyword or phrase might be “fastest business phone system”.  

You can identify your keywords in the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. It allows you to see what keywords you should be using and what keywords your competitors are targeting. 

How to identify competitors using Google Adwords Keyword Planner:

  1. Once logged in to your Google Ads account, head to the top right-hand corner. Here you’ll see the “tools and setting”’ button. Click on it and head to “Keyword Planner.”
  2. Next, you will see a page with the option to “discover keywords.” Click this option. 
  3. You will now have two options as shown in the image below; start with keywords, or start with a website. Both can help identify your competitors. 
Screenshot of the interface of Google Adwords Keyword Planner. (social media competitive analysis)
Image source
Start with keywords option: 

Enter some keywords that your company currently targets:

Screenshot of Google Adwords Keyword Planner when entering kewords realated to a business, i.e. beach decor, coastal decor, nautical decor, beach furniture, coastal furniture, etc.
Image source 

When you click “get results,” you will be shown where your keywords are ranking. Here is where you can see search volume correlating with keywords. Based on this list, take the top words and put them into a Google search bar. You can clearly see which businesses come up ahead of yours on the search page. These are your competitors. 

This will give you data on search volume with your keywords. Google your top keywords to see which businesses come up higher than you on Google pages. This is your competition. 

Start with a website option: 

This is where it gets interesting. With this option, you can type in the URL of each of your competitors’ websites. Once you have, you will see the keywords they are using and how they are ranking. If your competitors’ top keywords are generating lots of searches, you might want to begin filtering them into your content and website.  

Aim to use Google Adwords Keyword planner to collate a list of five to 10 competitors. This is a good amount for your competitive analysis because it will give you lots of insight but shouldn’t be too overwhelming. After identifying your competitors, secure their data. 

Step 2: Collect and analyze information about your competitors 

Collecting the data

The first step in collecting data is to stalk your competitors on their socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can even sign up for their newsletter for more insight. To make things slightly easier, you can use tools such as Twitter Lists or Facebook “pages to watch”. These tools keep all of your competitors’ socials in one place.

Questions to be asking yourself while stalking competitors’ socials:

The side profile of a head with a question mark inside. Around the head there are many questions displayed: Do they use hashtags, Which posts have the most likes?, What is their engagement rate?, How large is their following?
Image created by writer 

The list of questions goes on and on, and it’s essential to investigate every question you think of. You can pick up on details that you’d have never thought about before. For example, a detail you might notice is that your top competitors have country code top-level domains rather than top-level domains. 

Depending on whether you are competing locally or internationally, elevating details such as domains can make a big difference. For example, if you were trying to grow international business in Australia, you would look into au domains and the possibility of registering for one. This would help your business climb up the local Google rankings.

The data collection stage of competitive analysis involves an ongoing and thorough search of their socials. By consistently checking in, you will eventually build up an understanding of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and be able to adjust your own social media presence accordingly. 

Analyzing the data

The intel you collect from your competitors’ data must be presented in a way that is clear and actionable. There are a few different methods of organizing the data, but the SWOT analysis is the most effective way. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. 

Screenshot of a diagram showing four  sections: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. (social media competitive analysis)
Image created by writer

Make a diagram like the one shown above for each of your competitors. Put them into primary, secondary, and tertiary order of who your biggest competitors are. Make sure your SWOT diagrams are polished and focused. If they’re too wordy and confusing, all you’re going to do is create communication silos when it comes to taking action on your findings. 

Your biggest competitor may have an amazing social wall that looks unique and catches people’s eye. By recognizing this, you have the chance to pounce on the idea and add it to your business strategy. You will also be able to note common weaknesses in the less successful competitors and develop an innovative way to overcome them before anyone else does. 

Step 3: Act on what you see

Identify your critical business questions and set strategic goals. Having an abundance of data intel on your competitors is great, but you need to make effective use of what you find. It’s important to hone in on what’s going to make a difference. 

Competitive analysis isn’t just about deriving insights. It’s about acting on these insights to improve your own social media strategy. It’s time to get creative and have confidence in your decisions. Be it choosing to invest in video content, post more frequently, or rejig the aesthetic of your socials, you can do it knowing there is data that backs your decision. 

Competitive analysis is a form of benchmarking. Now that you have identified gaps in your competitor’s strategy, fill them! Give the audience what they like and what your competitors aren’t giving them enough of. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

There’s no denying your first social media analysis will take a fair bit of time and research, as will turning knowledge into action. Results will come, but it does take time. 

To make your social media competitive analysis worthwhile, it’s important to run one regularly. Don’t just stop after the first one. Keep on top of how your competitor’s socials are doing and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

There are different ways of keeping track of the information you have gathered. You can do it yourself or seek out an automated online tool to help you. After taking action and adjusting your strategy, a good way to monitor its impact is through point of sale software. The software enables you to track sales and assess how much of this is down to your new and improved social media strategy. 

Content into sales

The power of social media marketing is undeniable. Its influence over sales will not be slowing down at any time. Data shows that, in 2019, there were 815 million Instagram users worldwide, but this figure is projected to reach 1.2 billion users by 2023

There’s no point wasting time on a social media strategy that isn’t getting results. You want to be putting out a content platform that turns content into sales. An effective social media competitive analysis is the first step in this happening. With data-led decision making and strategy tweaks, you can ensure your business is ahead of the game and your competitors are left behind at the start line.

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