Using Social Media Analysis for a Competitive Advantage

social_toolsYou’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.

Engagement

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:

  1. You can discover what content the competitor is creating that is resonating with your audience.
  2. 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.

Target Audiences

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.

Lindsey Congeni

About Lindsey Congeni

Lindsey Congeni is the Social Media Director at Fathom. She is a graduate of Ohio University with a degree in journalism. She has 10 years of experience in corporate communications, public relations and digital marketing. Lindsey specializes in social media research and analysis, and uses the data she uncovers to provide complex organizations with sound social media strategies. Outside of the office, Lindsey teaches fitness classes and enjoys running and reading.

2 Comments

  • Kathleen Collins says:

    Hi Lindsey,

    You have shared a really good article with us. I agree with you in this article. Its very important to analyze the social media results, to get competitive advantage.

    Thanks for sharing this informative post with us.
    Good Work!!

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  • AndyNicx says:

    Good one!!Relationships flourish when you cultivate them. Over the past year there has been an explosion growth on the social networks. When you are running a company big or small it is clear that you have customers, and you should be answerable to the queries they have, otherwise the competitor will be doing that. It is not the Following or the likes you achieve , it is all about how those numbers are converting into customers.
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