How To Analyze Your Competition’s Social Media

SocialMediaCompetitive analysis is a necessary component of any marketing plan. If your brand has a presence on social media, which it most likely does, you can benefit from analyzing your competitors on social media as well. Gaining insight into your competitors’ social media strategies can help you create benchmarks to guide and measure your social media strategy. This knowledge will allow you to do a number of things, such as choose the right social networks for your audience and use social media more effectively to enhance your brand. Also, a social media competitive analysis can help you find opportunities your competitors may have missed which will enable you to create a loyal community for your brand online.

Here’s how you can conduct a social media competitive analysis in six steps:

1. Identify competitors

As you probably already know, the first step of your competitive analysis is to identify who your competitors are. At this point, compile a list of your competitors but don’t start searching for their social pages yet. You’ll want complete Step 2 before you delve into the details of their social media strategies

2. Determine what you want to find out

Before you begin, you should first determine a specific objective or question you want answered for your competitive analysis. Some examples of objectives are:

  • Should our company use Pinterest?
  • Do we need to grow our social following?
  • How are we performing compared to our competitors on our social media sites?

Setting an objective will help guide your competitive analysis and keep you focused as you gather information.

3. Start a spreadsheet and identify networks

Take your list of competitors and place them on a spreadsheet. For a comprehensive analysis, go through each competitor one by one and find all of their social media profiles. Or if only one or a few social media sites are relevant to your objective, search for your competitors only on those sites. Indicate on your spreadsheet whether or not your competitors have a presence on each of the sites you want to analyze.

4. Determine what you will analyze and for how long

Once you have your objective set and have found where your competitors have profiles, you can determine what aspects you want to analyze for each specific site. Also, you will save yourself a lot of headaches by determining the length of time you’ll use as you perform your analysis. For example, instead of just tracking posts, you’ll want to track posts per week or posts per month.

5. Gather data

The specific data you track will vary from site to site. It will also depend on the objectives you’ve set. Included below are some areas you’ll most likely want to focus on, but this is not a comprehensive list. I have broken down the type of data you’ll be looking at into two parts: Followers/engagement and Content.

Followers/engagement:

Track followers

One of the first aspects you’ll most likely want to find out is the number of fans and followers your competitors have for each network. Finding the number of fans and followers is a quick way to see an overall snapshot of your competitors’ popularity on social media. Remember to also track their fan to follower ratios (# of people they follow/# of people who follow them).

Track engagement

To get an idea of how engaged your competition’s followers are, see how many reposts, shares, likes and comments each of their posts receive. Again, you should use the timeframe you’ve determined to compile this data. Divide the number of posts by the number of shares, etc. for that timeframe to determine the average engagement per post for that specific timeframe.

Track growth

If possible, gather data on your competitors for the previous timeframe. For example, if you’re analyzing comments/shares per month, look at the previous month’s data. Then find the percentage change month over month to determine the growth rate of your competitors. This will help you create a benchmark for your own social media campaigns.

Content:

Track posts

Find out how active your competitors are on social media by tracking the number of posts they make in your specified timeframe. Be sure to break the posts down into categories. For example, on Twitter you would want to separately track tweets, retweets, replies and favorites. It’s also important to record what types of content they are posting. Are they using a lot of photo or video content? Do they ask lots of questions? Do they do contents and giveaways?

Analyze blog & website

Remember that blogs and websites are also pieces of overall social media strategy. You’ll want to find out if your competitors have blogs. You should also take a deeper look into their blogs to see if they’re using Google Authorship on their posts. Are your competitors using FASS (fast action social sharing) Buttons in their posts? How many comments do their posts receive on average in your given timeframe and how many posts are made? Do your competitors link to their social media profiles from their website? How many of their web pages have links to their social media profiles? As you can see, there is a ton of information you can learn about your competitors’ social media efforts from their website and blog, so don’t skip this step.

Analyze paid media

Even though you most likely won’t be able to find out how much your competitors are paying for social media ads, you should include paid social media efforts in your analysis. Finding out whether or not your competitors are using paid advertisements on social media will give you a good understanding on whether or not paying for social media would be a good fit for your brand.

Analyze brand

Have a look at the images and logos used across each of your competitors’ social media profiles. How are they branding themselves? Is the look and feel of each site consistent? Can you see differences in each site that hint at how it is being used by the brand? What is the voice of the brand? Is it the company’s voice or a specific person?

6. Analyze overall efforts

Now that you’ve thoroughly analyzed your competitors’ followers, engagement, content and brand on social media, you should add a component to your spreadsheet where you can reflect on your findings of each competitor’s overall efforts on social media. What do they do really well? What are they doing differently? Or what are they doing really poorly? You should also determine how your brand compares to your competition on each individual component and overall. Once you’ve completed all of these steps, you should be able to go back to your original objective and reevaluate your own social media strategy.

Conclusion

Understanding how your competition is utilizing social media is an extremely effective way for you to position your brand to stand out. You won’t attract a loyal following by simply maintaining the status quo on social media and following along with what everyone else is doing. Having a thorough understanding of your competition will enable you to brainstorm new ideas to improve on the things they are doing well and to keep your fans engaged. You’ll also be able to more accurately benchmark and measure your campaigns. If you continually follow up on your competitive analysis about once a month, you’ll be able to stay ahead of your competition and make the most of your social media efforts.

Read more

I used these articles as references to write this post. Give them a read to learn more about how you can conduct a social media competitive analysis.

Step-By-Step: How to Do a Competitive Analysis on Social Media – Christopher Tompkins

How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis – Ashley Stuart

How to Do a Social Media Competitive Analysis – John Cade

Do you have any tips on how to conduct a social media competitive analysis?  Leave your comments below.

Advertisements

What Really Makes a Successful Social Media Strategy

IMG_1393 (2)As someone relatively new to the social media marketing field, I am always seeking out the advice of experts. Luckily in this field, social media experts are constantly sharing their knowledge on Twitter, Google+ and everywhere else on the Internet. And I’ll admit it, I love an article that promises to teach me “How To Be Awesome at Social Media In 4 Easy Steps” or will tell me “7 Things Everyone Who’s Anyone In Social Media Already Knows About So You Really Need To Know Now.” I really am a moth to a flame when I see a title with a numbered list – I can’t resist clicking.

My predictable and often time-wasting love of numbered lists (hello, everything on Buzzfeed) is what led me to click on Chris Brogan’s article, “4 Bullet Points For More Social Media Mastery.” Now I’m pretty embarrassed to say this, but I took this article seriously for much longer than I should have. Just read the article and you’ll understand my embarrassment. I was eating up all of Brogan’s tips, beginning to feel more and more like someone in-the-know as I finished each bullet point. Maybe I was even getting a little bit smug.

It wasn’t until I got all the way to bullet point #3 where Brogan lays out the “action plan” (also meant to poke fun at all these types of articles) that I finally got the joke. Especially when I read this paragraph:

“Mashable. Lots of people like Mashable. Just share that. Also, retweet pretty much anything said by the following: @guykawasaki, @chrisbrogan, @garyvee, @marismith, and pick a few of YOUR favorite social media guru/master/ninja/rockstars. In fact, just set your accounts up to auto-tweet their stuff. Faster that way.”

Everything mentioned in that paragraph would be a sure way to annoy all your followers, which Brogan and any savvy social media marketer is well aware of.  (And even I know that saying you’re a social media guru, master, ninja or rockstar is the quickest way to discredit yourself as being any of those aforementioned things.)

Getting Started With Strategy

While Brogan’s article wasn’t “serious,” it seriously got me thinking about what really makes a successful social media strategy (which I’m sure was Brogan’s true intent). So I did a quick Google search for “social media strategy” which returned a cool 450,000,000 results. Not wanting to stray too far from my pattern, I clicked on “3 Steps to an Effective Social Media Strategy” by Amy Porterfield. I’d like to paraphrase what I learned from her article because her approach is simple and it’s a process with proven results. Here we go:

1) Assessment

Get a clear understanding of your audience’s needs and wants by simply asking them. There are many ways of doing this for free or very little money (Survey Monkey, Google Docs). Then decide what you’d like to accomplish through your social media efforts and narrow your goals to only one. Porterfield states that social media goals are usually these three things: awareness, sales or loyalty. Again, you should only focus on one.

Another important part of the assessment process is for the team to identify the driving force of the brand’s social media presence.  Porterfield references what Jay Baer calls your “One Thing” that stands behind every message you communicate to your customer.  It’s what makes you stand out and what makes your brand special.

The last part of the assessment stage is formulating the tactical social media plan. This includes scheduling, editorial calendars, contingency planning, etc. The plan should be as detailed as possible.

2) Implementation

The implementation stage is when you will put your plan to work. No plan should be written in stone, especially in the fast-paced world of social media. It’s important to be flexible and make tweaks as you go along as well as keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Also, the implementation stage is no time to be shy. Embrace your social media presence and promote it. Add links to your company website and to your email signatures. Don’t make your pages difficult for your community to find.

3) Measurement

Get back together with your team a few months after you’ve implemented your social media strategy. Use the analytics and reporting tools available to you to go over the numbers and see what’s been working and what hasn’t. Schedule time to collaborate and come up with new creative ideas on how to connect with your audience. Then start the process again.

The Core of a Successful Social Media Strategy

With so many people out there claiming to be experts and an almost overwhelming amount of information and new tools and platforms, it’s easy to get sucked into the idea that we need to know it all. Of course it’s our job to be knowledgeable about current social media trends, but what we really need to be an expert in is our customer. That’s why the customer’s values and how we meet their needs is always at the core of a successful social media strategy.

What do you think makes a successful social media strategy? Have any tips on how to stay ahead of social media trends? Leave your comments below.