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As the lines between categories and industries overlap and blur, competitors are everywhere. On top of that, add consumers who won’t settle for less than what they demand, and you’ve got a recipe for brand extinction if you aren’t fully aware of where you stand in the ranks.

Our Social Media Reporting Series continues with a look at how to use competitor analysis reporting to stay alive and thriving.

What Can You Do with Competitive Analysis?

Before we launch into the how, let’s talk about the why. What does competitive analysis reporting do for your brand? Besides the obvious – which is comparing you to competing brands – you can gain a host of other valuable insights, like:

  • Ideas to improve product packaging, features, pricing, etc.
  • Ideas for completely new products
  • Channels and messaging that’s best for reaching your shared target audience
  • Potential influencers to amplify messaging
  • Inspired campaign ideas

And more. Then you can use these competitive analysis insights in tandem with other data points – like last year’s revenue, campaign activities, survey data, and Net Promoter Score – for a comprehensive brand picture to inform ongoing strategy.

So that’s the why. But how do you collect these insights in an organized way that all who need them will understand? Through competitive analysis reporting.

Paint in Broad Strokes

An important distinction of competitive analysis – as opposed to other brand reporting – is the focus of your analysis. It’s about exploration and discovery, as opposed to answering specific questions.

Instead of narrowing your research to, say, one area in contrast to your competitors, let the insights speak for themselves. That’s how you unearth unexpected gems you can use.

This is the case whether you compare yourself brand for brand, or by categories, products, or audiences. You want to understand the overall conversation, sentiment drivers, and location – both geographically, and channel-wise, among other things.

Be sure you consider a wide range of competitors as you plan your analyses – from direct competitors to aspirational brands and potential future challengers. Think of how Etsy has become a force in online retail, alongside brands like Amazon and eBay – and how all three have overtaken Big Box stores in social rankings.

Look to depth of emotion to contextualize your social analytics. For example, if you were whisky brand Jack Daniel’s, it would make sense to compare yourself to top competitors like Johnnie Walker and Jim Beam:

If you weren’t including sentiment in your data, you might look at Posts and Potential Impressions and think you had the edge. However, you have to be sure Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity support that story. Here they do. But it’s not always the case.

And, of course, there’s more to consider.

For example, comparing Sources of Quick Serve coffee restaurants Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Tim Hortons (left to right below), we see that Dunkin’ Donuts has a lot more online conversation happening through news outlets:

This is an indicator that their conversation is less consumer-based – something the other two brands could take advantage of, and something Dunkin’ should consider adjusting.

Go Deeper as You Track Insights

Once you’ve gone through the discovery phase, you can look for more specifics to inform your actions. For instance, using themes lets you understand exactly what consumers like about you and your competitors – or what they find lacking.

Look at Summary Metrics for things like Share of Conversation by Theme, Overall Sentiment by Theme, or Conversation Trend by Theme to learn more. Here’s Jack Daniel’s:

You can see there’s a lot of conversation and positive sentiment about their value. Though quality and innovation are highly positive, they aren’t mentioned quite as much. This tells you where the love is, and what you might need to focus on as you adjust your engagement strategy.

Taking things a step further, you can create a Brand Equity Scorecard to evaluate where you stand when mentioned in the same post as your competitors:

You can also see visual representation of your Brand Passion Index against competitors. Having a larger audience doesn’t necessarily matter if passion is neutral – a small, but passionate army of fans is more powerful than a larger, apathetic one. This view offers a clear look at your comparative status.

Brand Passion is your compass for every metric, by the way. Assessing competitors means looking at everything you can about them and their audience – including influencers and brand ambassadors, content, and everything discussed above – through that lens of consumer love.

Pulling these insights into a single dashboard lets decision-makers see at a glance where they need to course correct based on brand goals.

And there’s no wrong answer – you can create the report you want to see based on your objectives in the moment, or based on the business unit using the insights.

A brand like iHeartMedia might care most about their competitors’ influencers, while an agency like Moxie might be more concerned with winning based on killer content. No matter the task, competitive analysis reporting is an ongoing endeavor that will give back every time.

The most important thing is to use it – or accept your fate when competitors take the lead.

Want to see our competitor dashboards in action? Reach out for a customized demo.

And check out the rest of our Social Media Reporting Series to learn more: