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New marketers have a lot on their plates – including getting up to speed quickly on how social media competitive analysis tools work. How do you know which are best suited to achieving your brand’s goals?

Define goals

First you need to know what those goals are. Are they new, or relative to previous benchmarks? You need to figure that out before you can do anything else – because there are a lot of competitive analysis tools to choose from. Your goals dictate the tools.

If you’re using previous benchmarks to inform or redirect your strategy, you need tools that offer historical data as well as analysis in real-time. You don’t need to go back too far though – anything more than a couple years won’t help you understand the attitudes of your audience now.  Thus, beware tools boasting about far-reaching data archives – you just don’t need them.

If your goals are new and different, you want to clearly understand where your competitors stand. You need tools up to the task.

Social listening or social monitoring?

Before you plan a campaign, or any other brand initiative, you must understand what competitors are doing, and how their audience feels about all of it. You need social listening tools – and social monitoring tools.

Wait, there’s a difference? There is!

Social listening is designed to loop you in to consumer topics, themes and emotions. With regard to competitive analysis, you’re listening specifically to their feelings about the brands you wish to beat. Everything they share gives you an edge in crafting messaging and campaigns of your own.

Social monitoring, on the other hand, is all about monitoring the social landscape for specific keywords and trends where emotions run particularly high.

On the positive side social monitoring helps you identify trends worth leveraging, and influencers to help with brand awareness.

On the negative side, social monitoring is a crucial part of brand health. You need to know immediately when the conversation turns fiercely negative – so you can keep things from spiraling out of control.

When it comes to the competition, it’s important to monitor these key moments as well. They offer an opening for your brand to intervene at just the right moment.

The importance of sentiment analysis

Of course, you can’t know if conversations are positive or negative without sentiment analysis tools. The one you choose must be fluent in all languages, including sarcasm, slang, emojis, and image recognition.

Sentiment answers every question social media competitive analysis presents:

  • Are we sharing the right content?
  • Are we active on the right channels?
  • Which trends are important to our brand?
  • What matters most to our ideal audience? Are we giving it to them?

While the information your customers share about you is great, information shared by your competitors’ customers helps you level up everything you do.

What are competitors hip to that you haven’t picked up on yet? Look for the love in your trend analysis to know where consumers in your category want you to go. These insights can inspire everything from customer care to product development, impacting your entire customer experience strategy.

Beyond listening – the importance of engagement

Engagement as a metric conjures up thoughts of how often consumers compliment your brand online, or share your posts. Those metrics count, sure, but engagement is a two-way street.

You’ve got to connect with consumers – speaking to them authentically, managing customer care issues, and reminding them you’re truly interested, not just using them as a means to an end.

For that it’s important to have competitive analytics tools capable of working with other tools you already use – like social scheduling platforms, customer care portals, and CRM tools. Otherwise you’ll have to work that much harder to gain a complete picture, and keep in touch with your audience.

So you’re looking for social listening tools, social monitoring tools, sentiment analysis tools, access to historical data, the ability to interact with your audience and manage customer care – to name a few. None of them is optional.

The good news is you can find all those features and more in a single, industry recognized platform, with customizable dashboards, and real-time insights. We’re ready to help you knock out the competition.

To view a demo of our social media competitive analysis tools and more, get in touch!

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