One of the most effective tactics in a successful social media strategy is oftentimes to analyze or follow the competition. The goal isn’t to copy and paste what they are doing, but rather evaluate your competitors’ strengths to find what will work for your business.
Wherever you are in your journey as an entrepreneur – whether you’re experimenting in new markets or opening your own business or startup – competitor analysis in social media can help you step closer to winning market share. Below we have highlighted ten things competitor research can teach you about social media and how to utilize them in your target market.
#1 – Platforms you should be using
You want to be where your customer is, and an easy way to quickly determine that is by looking at what social platforms your direct competition is currently leveraging. Keep an eye out for which networks are getting the most engagement for digital marketing of similar products. This could be a key indicator of where you’ll get the best response from your audience should you incorporate the platform into your business strategy. Your competitive analysis should also include an evaluation of competitors’ websites to see which socials they highlight and direct customers towards.
#2 – Types of content that resonate best
Looking at engagement numbers for your competitor’s posts can provide critical insights and helpful guidance into what content topics and angles might speak to your audience the most and encourage engagement. With such a variety of content forms, it’s essential to conduct your market research into which of these work best for your competitors, saving you time and money in the realm of content creation. Instead of taking time to test out different content strategies, being able to identify popular and successful trends can put you a step ahead.
#3 – Key hashtags to engage your target audience
Hashtags are an important weapon that, when used effectively, can put your content in front of the right audiences. A quick Google search of your competitors and their focused keywords can be a great first step before more thorough research. In addition to doing your own hashtag research, review some of your competitor’s most engaging posts and look for any hashtags that might be applicable to your own brand. Make sure to interact with posts that are using those hashtags as well for an added boost.
#4 – Stay up on the latest news
The world is quickly changing, and it seems like there are new trends and announcements every day, if not every hour. Staying up to date with your competitor’s social media presence will also keep you in the loop about any relevant and timely news that you may have missed. The competitive landscape of social media means that it’s not just important to have the right ideas, you need to also have them at the right time. Ideally, you want to be ahead of the curve and not the last to post, but sometimes competitors can point you in the direction of a piece of news or topic that may resonate with your audience.
#5 – Who is dominating the conversation
This lesson is easier learned with the proper listening tools at your disposal for your competitive analysis. Best for businesses with direct competitors, listening to social chatter can help you measure which of your brands is dominating the conversation in a more positive way. If your competitor is stealing the top spot right now, putting your efforts into identifying why and ways to improve your strategy can give your brand a boost in the long run.
#6 – How to allocate your ad dollars
Paid social ad campaigns can at times feel overwhelming when you are first starting out. There are lots of questions about what ad format is best, how specific to get with your target audience – the list goes on. Did you know that you can check out all the ads your competitors are running on Facebook and Instagram? Visit their Facebook page under Page Transparency to see if they currently have any running, or visit the Facebook Ad library to search all records. Knowing how your competition is leveraging paid social can help you create an effective social advertising strategy and ensure your dollars are being put to good use.
#7 – Write a great bio
Instagram recently announced an update to its search capabilities. This has made it a better time than ever to take a hard look at your bios across platforms. Bios can be optimized to ensure maximum information is communicated using SEO within the character limit so that you can be found in search and convey your competitive advantage. Take a look at what your competitor has included in the messaging of their bio on sites like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and expand on it to make your brand stand out.
#8 – Influencer marketing and user-generated content strategy
Influencer marketing and user generated content (UGC) is on the rise. According to AdWeek, UGC is 85% more influential than brand-generated content. Can you spot these types of content in your competitors’ and indirect competitors’ feeds? If so, it may be a sign that it could fit well into your own social media marketing strategy and be worth the time to explore. Consider how UGC could be utilized for new product or service introductions, developing brand awareness, accumulating customer reviews, and otherwise taking your content marketing to the next level.
#9 – Pay attention to reviews and testimonials
Likes and reviews can be compelling information to a potential customer or your target audience. Make an effort to pay attention to where your competitors stand when it comes to how many reviews or likes they have accumulated, and on what platform. Focus also on which facets of customer experience are highlighted on competitors’ socials. The benefit to putting an emphasis on gathering reviews, or even beating out the competition, will give you a lead in a number of ways. Not only will more reviews and likes convey your credibility and help you fulfill customer needs, but they also can impact your rankings in search. Paying attention to what your competitors are already doing with likes and reviews will help you establish goals for where you need to be.
#10 – How to be unique
When all is said and done, competitor analysis on social media will provide helpful insights to direct your brand’s efforts. The most important takeaway, however, is to only use them as inspiration and not to copy them exactly. Ideally, your brand will find its own visual identity and voice to make it stand out to connect with potential customers. Your audience will ultimately find greater value in connecting with an authentic brand versus one that is trying to be too similar to the competition.
These ten lessons from competitors on social media will assist you in forming an overall strategy or identifying ways to improve your existing feed to accelerate growth. Remember, no brand will ever be just like yours so don’t forget to embrace your creative singularity in the process!