You’re analyzing and measuring your own efforts on social media, but what about your competitors? Taking a few hours each month—or at least each quarter—to review your top two to three competitors’ social strategies can provide great insight into what your organization is doing well, where it is falling behind and any new content areas or audiences that are being overlooked.
While many brands take note of how their fans and followers compare to the competition, there is more to measure that will provide more valuable information. Remember that you don’t know how your competition acquired those fans and followers. It could be because they have amazing content, or it could be they are spending thousands each month in Facebook advertising or contests.
Below are three areas to measure when performing a competitive analysis.
Comparing engagement rates is a much more accurate way to determine how your content and social presence stacks up to the competition. If your competitor gained a ton of fans through advertising or contests and those fans aren’t really interested in the brand, their engagement rate will plummet.
Measure engagement rates for all your social networks, or at least Facebook or Twitter. Start by adding competitors’ Facebook pages to your “Pages to Watch” list on Facebook. This will allow you to easily see how often your competitors are posting and how much engagement they are receiving. For Twitter, there are several free and paid tools available to calculate engagement rate, or you can manually calculate it by taking Mentions + Retweets/Number of Followers.
If a competitor has a higher engagement rate, take a closer look to examine why. This is important for two reasons:
- You can discover what content the competitor is creating that is resonating with your audience.
- The high engagement rate could be due to a negative reason, such as complaints about service or a crisis situation.
Overall, make a point to look at your competitors’ social networks to evaluate what they are saying, how they saying it and who is engaging with what they said. This is a great way to get content ideas, as well as see what doesn’t work without having to test it out yourself.
Share of Voice
While engagement rates measure your competitors’ performance on their own networks, what about what people are saying about them (and you) elsewhere? This is where share of voice comes into play. Measure the volume of online conversation—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, blogs, forums, news, etc.—that is taking place about your organization and each of your competitors. Who has the most and why?
Again, human analysis is required here, because a competitor could be talked about the most for all the wrong reasons, so it is important to dig a little deeper to see what is driving conversations. If the conversations are positive, it’s time to identify what the competitor is doing that you aren’t, and brainstorm ways to create conversation drivers.
This last area of measurement requires a bit more effort, but the payoff is worth it. To evaluate your competitors’ target audiences, take a look at the content created on their blog and social networks for the past month. Break out each post in content buckets—who is the target audience and what message are they using to reach the audience.
By identifying how your competitors are choosing to use their content, you can uncover a great deal of information about their overall marketing and advertising strategy. Which audience shows the most potential? What messages resonate with the audiences and on what channel? This information might reshape who you are targeting and how, or it may simply validate that what you are doing is working. Either way, it is likely worth the effort.
So, as you are finalizing your yearly reports, remember to add in competitive intelligence for a better-rounded look at how your organization’s social media is performing. And finally, remember to take what you learn to improve your social strategy, not copy your competitors.