Social Media Competitor Analysis: 5 Steps To Start in 2020

social media competitor analysis

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A fundamental part of a Social Media Strategy is a Social Media Competitor Analysis.
You need to know more about your competitors’ strategy, what they are doing, and performing.
Studying their strategy is the best way to find your way.

Learning something more about competitors helps your brand in creating interesting tactics, measurable success, and, sometimes, avoid failures.

What Is A Social Media Competitor Analysis

Thanks to competitive analysis, you can study their communication and advertising campaigns, keep an eye on upcoming trends, understand your customers under a different point of view.

It would be crazy to miss it!

However, how could you achieve an analysis like this? If you are starting to worry, don’t. Competitor analysis is a broad and complex field, and this is why today, we decided to focus only on social media analysis, giving you five steps to start.  

1. Identify Your Competitors

It is easy – you can not analyze anything if you do not know what to look for! Before starting any analysis, the first thing to do is to pick your competitors.

Choosing the right competitors is not always as easy as it may appear. Some brands say they have no competitors, and they believe to be unique.

Every company has to deal with many competitors, from the big companies to the little shop on the corner of the street. Selecting just ten leaders will not help you. We have to identify competitors and group them for proximity. In this way, we have a clear idea of why we are looking at them and what we can take away from our analysis.

Generally speaking, if you are Coca Cola, Pepsi is a direct competitor,
Twinings, Fanta, or even alcoholic beverages may be indirect ones. Act the same way in your field and select, for instance, 10-15 brands that satisfy the requirements. And now it is time to start analyzing!

2. Compare your Competitors’ Social Media Activity

Now it is time to focus on competitor’s social media presence. 

Let’s start looking for your competitors’ social pages.

First of all, let’s determine which channels they use. Have they all a Facebook page or an Instagram account? Do they use a blog? It is all about their social positioning.

Firstly, you have to learn where they compete. Then, once you have determined where they communicate, focus on how they do it. 

Put all the data together for comparison and future reference. It could be a simple Google Sheet that you can share with your teammates. I usually create a different sheet for each competitor.

How often do they update their channels?

Do they use the same piece of content for different media – for example, Twitter and Facebook? Do they use IG, IG Stories, IGTV?
And if so, how? 

Every channel has a different purpose, but you can use them by adapting their format to the kind of content you want to share with your customers. You don’t need to use the same channels as your competitors. Take note of what they are doing, have a reason to do differently.

It’s part of the strategy!

Maybe you don’t have the same budget yet, or you have a different scope.
If you track your KPIs, you know what to do.
Ask yourself questions! It helps to focus on new experiments for you. Why do they use IG stories? Do they have specific content that works at best in that format? Why did they stop using the blog? Have they a newsletter?

3. Analyze Competitors’ Social Media Posts

Different types of content have several and unique purposes.

Focus on what your competitors are saying. Analyze if their scope is the same as yours. It is useful to know how to approach the same target audience.
Which kind of social media content do they produce?

Quotes, long articles from their blog, photos of the company’s people, pieces of advice for customers?
Do they prefer colder topics as case studies? Or are they intensely visual, for example, publishing videos?
Again, only noticing that they post three photos from their office and two articles from their blog a week are not enough.

Using your Competitor’s content to do A/B Test

Attention! We are not suggesting copy and run posts that looks and feels as those of your competitors.

You can leverage AI-based Predictive A/B tests to see if the kind of content that they posts resonate with your actual audience.

Look how that works in our GhostwriterAI Predictor tool.

GhostwriterAI A/B test predictive tool

Copy and paste your competitor’s content and graphic in GhostwriterAI predictive analysis tool and let the Artificial Intelligence scoring your audience attraction level.

predictive analysis scoring

You audience loves your competitor content? You have an extremely important hint about your next content as well.

By doing social media competitor analysis, you have to focus on the WHY.
Ask yourself why your competitors produced those pieces of content.

Are they useful for conversions and engagement?
Are they useful in creating a relationship with customers?
Do they collect leads?
Do they serve to build up a reliable social reputation?

Tone and graphics make the difference as well!

Do they have a defined graphic, with recognizable colors and patterns, or their visual identity is weak?

Firstly, ask yourself which one works best for them and which one would suit you.  Having the right tone is crucial to make a brand recognizable and beloved.

Secondly, check if the tone of voice is different from social platforms to one other. They may decide to keep a cold and professional tone on LinkedIn and having a more casual, warmer tone on Instagram. Some brands may use a different tone of voice from the actual post to the comments, and if the tones are not well aligned.

If the comments are too formal or too friendly – it may create a sort of dissonance.

4. Analyze Competitors’ Performance On Social Media

Competitors’ posts may be exciting and pretty, but the real question is – do they work? The only way is to analyze their performance.

Clearly, it is not something you can do by just looking at their posts and counting likes. You need one or more specific tools. Why so? Because looking only at the number of likes and sponsored posts is okay, but it is not enough. It does not give you enough useful pieces of information about your competitors.

There may be several context elements playing you are not aware of, and they could mislead your judgment.

By the way, how can you achieve a performance analysis? There are several tips and tools you can use. Let’s see them.

Facebook insights

Several tools allow you to confront Facebook insights of your competitors. You can see the details of their sponsored posts and understand which ones reached the higher rate of likes and comments.
You can build up a picture of how the users feel and what they appreciate of your competitors.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a tool that allows you to see other competitors’ insights, as the website itself proclaims: “Simplify your analytics deep dives at any time by utilizing Sprout’s report builder. Customize as needed across each connected network to compare activity overviews, stats, growth, and more easily.”
The software allows you to analyze elements like fan growth, message volumes, and benchmark industry standards.

5. Study of the Competitor’s Reputation

As per your competitor’s reputation, there is one more thing that you can check – reputation and sentiment.

A brand could create the most fantastic communication strategy and the most expensive advertising campaigns.

However, all of actions are useless if its reputation is compromised.

How could it happen? Maybe the brand handled a crisis in the worst way possible, or customers discovered a discrepancy between the core values and the actual actions of the company.

Trying to keep reputation and sentiment positive is crucial for any brand.

How could you discover if one of your competitors has not the most shining reputation possible? 

Some tools you can use are:

  • Brandwatch. Brandwatch is a useful listening platform. It can analyze the share of voice, which means “real-time insight on the size of your online presence relative to your competitors, over any given timeframe”, and understand sentiment and brand perceptions all over the world.
  • Semrush. Semrush can help you to track the sentiment, thanks to its Brand Monitoring tool. It can, according to the website, “Keep an eye on your competitors’ online reputation using smart mentions tracking, evaluate the efficiency of your/your rivals’ PR campaigns” and “check the authority of their referring domains”.

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