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How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis

It might be obvious that competitive analysis should be part of brand operations, but what’s not always so obvious is what exactly that means – especially with regard to the social realm. With all the stats, posts and interactions coming at you with increasing speed, how can you possibly keep up with how competitors are doing online, as you struggle to make sense of your own positioning? Here are some guidelines to ensure your competitive analysis gets you immediate, actionable intel.

It’s Not a Popularity Contest

Before we get to what does matter, let’s have a quick refresher on what doesn’t. Competitive analysis isn’t about which brand has the most likes or followers – at all. Those superficial numbers actually tell you nothing about where you stand in relation to the other brands in your vertical.

It’s better to have 25K engaged followers than a million apathetic ones. Engagement is key – and it’s not always measured properly either. So, let’s talk about what matters, and how to apply those insights to beat the brands that are trying to beat you!

Who Is Talking?

Before you can understand how to engage consumers, you have to understand who they are. You may think you have a handle on your audience – but analyzing competitors’ audiences can be oh so revealing, assuming you’re gathering accurate insight.

And using Next Generation AI Analytics, you can break down attributes of the consumers interacting with your competitors. This can tell you anything from:

  • Traditional demographics like age, gender, ethnicity
  • Where they live, work, and play
  • What social channels they interact on
  • What they care about
  • Who they are inspired by
  • Who is inspiring others with regard to competitors and your industry overall

What you’re looking for here is anything that “pops” against what you already know.

Note Whole Foods’ response – isn’t the tweet the suggestion? Competing grocers should be taking note of both brands’ failings…

Identifying new audience segments can be game-changing. Let’s talk more about that in the next section.

What Are They Saying?

Competitor audiences are valuable precisely because they talk about the things your competitors don’t want you to know. Their products and services may be touted all over the internet, TV, and beyond – but that’s the whole point of marketing, right? To shine a light on what makes the product great, and why your target consumers would want it.

What social media offers is the reality behind the slick and shiny brand perspective. Social consumers serve up the truth behind the image – whether good or bad. This is powerful information for competing brands, offering actionable intel around new product or service offerings.

If a product is doing everything its meant to – or more – sentiment analysis will show you these weighted conversations. But do you need to step up your game or offer up something better or different? These are the insights that help you make these difficult decisions before competitors do.

Capturing a new or existing segment is much easier when you’re the brand that’s known for listening, and you surprise and delight consumers every now and then by understanding what they want, seemingly as soon as they want it. That’s the speed the market is moving toward, so it’s best to acclimate to it now!

On the flip side – and to brands’ horror, but competitors’ delight – social audiences tell you exactly what isn’t working as well.

This is where you really have an opportunity to fulfil consumer desires and win them over by fixing things – and doing so first. Whether it’s a product failing to deliver, a disconnected customer experience, or customer care that is lacking, your brand can pick up the pieces – and also, perhaps, some new customer love in the process.

But even if things for your competitors are going pretty well, real-time social listening might tip you off to things they miss. Like audience segments ripe for a new product. Whatever you dream up for your audience is nothing compared to a product inspired by them. And with AI Analytics powering your efforts, you’re likely to beat them to the punch, which is the whole point.

Your Extended Army and Engagement

We mentioned above that engagement isn’t always accounted for correctly, and that’s especially true when it comes to influencers. Find a weakness in your competitors’ influencer game and you can overtake them.

It’s all about looking at engagement through the right lens. Our recent Global Love List Best Practices Guide offers an example in Nissan, and the engagement of their influential sponsors:

If you only looked at Engagements/Post you’d see that SportsCenter is well ahead, even though they have nearly half the followers of UEFA Champions League, and close to the same amount as ESPN. And you’d think ESPN was coming in last in this matchup.

But just as number of mentions or followers means nothing with regard to consumer sentiment, sheer volume of engagements doesn’t mean much on its own when measuring interaction.

Looking at Engagements/Post/10K Followers you see that SportsCenter is indeed having the most impact. However, ESPN – though they have approximately half the followers – is engaging more effectively than UEFA Champions League. The follower count doesn’t mean everything, and it’s something brands aren’t seeing unless they’re analyzing these stats using a solid sentiment analysis tool behind the scenes!

And these in-depth insights are what you have to consider as you assess your own influencers – and also competitors’ influencers. Don’t be dazzled by high follower counts – dig into the meat of they engagements and then determine how to pull ahead.

Remember as you go to use Competitor Analysis Reporting to stay on top of changes in the competitive landscape – so you don’t miss an opportunity to put your brand in front of the audience you want.

And, of course, remember to stay on top of whatever competitors might view as juicy intel about your own brand. View your own brand as your competitor would and be above reproach. With a little sentiment-informed luck, you’ll have the love of your own audience as well as everyone else’s.

Want to see how Next Gen AI makes competitive analytics stronger? Reach out for a customized demo.

 

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