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When it comes to competitive analyses, many brands are focused on predefined metrics, like comparing their widget sales to Y and Z competitors, but that’s not really where your focus should lie. Let’s explore what really matters online and why.

The purpose of a solid competitive analysis should be obtaining an overview of your space and exploring what competitors are doing so you can learn from them. You’re not trying to answer specific questions – or shouldn’t be. Here’s why: If you go in to the process with predetermined set of outcomes in mind, you’re limiting your search – and your brand’s future prospects.

This is why we’ve set up competitive dashboards as an exploration. Once you have topics established for the competitors you want to compare your brand to, you’ll see key overview insight that includes the typical info a brand would want around share of voice and net sentiment (at NetBase, it’s a score from -100 to 100 that measures the love online participants have – or don’t have – for your brand).

But there are three areas you need to explore in-depth to inform strategic thinking organization-wide: conversation, sentiment drivers and demographics. These three reporting metrics will help you do much more than tracking sales. You’ll be able to:

  • Understand your customer base, in relation to your competitors’ customers
  • Inform decisions about messaging to differentiate your brand
  • Identify new ways to drive engagement
  • Pinpoint the channels to focus on
  • And lots more, really. But that’s enough to throw at you here.

Let’s explore these three areas (conversation, sentiment drivers and demographics) and show you how – and why – you need these reporting areas, and corresponding hacks in your brand’s life right now:

Conversation

What share of voice are your competitors capturing – and where? And how does that look in relation to your brand’s share of voice? If you find that a competitor is dominating on Twitter, for example, while your mentions are more news-based, you’ll want to focus more on content, customer advocacy and influencer outreach to enhance consumer engagement.

It’s not that News mentions aren’t good for your brand too, of course, but authentic consumer interactions around your product or service are the true game changers.

This exploration can also help you uncover channels you never expected to work for your brand. Is a competitor finding exceptional engagement on Tumblr? Click through to find out why. There may be an influencer there – an unaware influencer even (jackpot!) – that you could collaborate with and win over an entire new segment!

Sentiment Drivers

Speaking of influencers, if you don’t have any bubble up on your channel overviews, you’ll see more than a few when you start digging in to sentiment drivers. This is where you can find keywords, hashtags, platforms and influencers that are driving the conversation about your brand or a competitor’s brand online.

One overlooked element to pay attention to is differentiation. How is your brand mentioned – in what context, specifically? It may not be the way you think/want it to be. If the main conversation around your brand is happening in relation to its rivals, then you have some work to do, as you’re not creating a distinct persona.

Beyond that, you can see what’s positive and negative about your competitors (and your own brand), from a consumer standpoint – and this offers amazing opportunities:

If consumers are disappointed with a competitor and you’re able to make it right, particularly if it’s a huge issue left unresolved, you can win over a significant segment with little effort. Your competitors will be left wondering what happened as you’re connecting meaningfully with their former customers and providing customer care that seems almost predictive. And guess what – with Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) powering your analyses, it actually will be!

Demographics

And you can’t forget about demographics! Is your brand resonating with men or women? How about the competition? And does that matter to you? Yes, it all does, as you can dig in to the data and find ideas for offerings that resonate with different segments, and sometimes that breaks along gender lines. Other times it’s geographical.

Speaking of which, where in the world is conversation about your category happening? The ability to market globally is one that savvy brands are taking advantage of. Even local, indie shops are able to reach international audiences these days – typically with a very niche offering and lots of luck.

But if you’re seeing something awesome happening in your space with a segment you’d like to attract, you can create opportunities for that to happen, no luck required.

It All Matters, So You Need to See Everything

It’s important to note that every bit of info can – and should – be explored further, particularly when something catches your eye. Exploring why people are talking about being “disappointed” is relevant, of course – whether it’s disappointment in your brand or (hopefully) a competitor. And clicking on that term opens up the related posts that inform its inclusion in the word cloud.

Are there themes around that disappointment and ways you can address these issues? It’s always great to sort this out before a competitor does.

Correspondingly, does your competitor’s word cloud offer opportunities for you to step in and provide exceptional, customer-winning, care? You can bet it does! Performing regular competitor analyses is important for not only customer care, but brand health too, of course – as you’re one viral tweetstorm away from a crisis.

The potential insight you can obtain and act upon is limitless, as long as you trust the source of the information. And it’s why accuracy is so important at NetBase. And it why we love giving demos of our social analytics capabilities. Reach out and we’ll take you for a test drive around your space!