As July comes to an end and the office thins out for summer vacation, it’s a perfect opportunity to reassess your social media strategy and prepare for the second half of the year. However, before you can do that, you need to understand how you stack up against your competition and their social media savvy. Conducting a regular (or semi-regular) social media competitive analysis automatically inserts KPIs, metrics and benchmarking into your strategy and will improve your ROI.
In 2015, it’s not a question of whether or not your competitors are on social media. Today, it’s a matter of how well they’re executing their social media marketing plans and if they’re outperforming yours. Since everyone’s already at the party, you need to make sure you’re dressed to impress and rocking it on the dance floor. Here’s how to run a social media competitive analysis and position yourself for success this fall.
1. Identify your competitors
I’m going to go ahead an assume you already know who they are, but this is also a good moment to take a step back and see if any new comers hit the market. Run a few Google searches for your main keywords and see who appears in the Adwords or the skim through the first 6 pages of the organic SERPs. Then, head over to Twitter and do the same via their search tool. It’s also wise to run a quick search on AngelList and TechCrunch to see if any well-funded startups are new to the scene.
2. Map it out
Once you have your list of competitors, head to the most relevant social media networks for your industry which will likely include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but if Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, G+ or any others are popular with your mutual target audiences, don’t forget to check those as well.
Create a grid like the one below and start filling in the blanks for each of your main competitors. You’ll see your chart includes both quantitative and qualitative analysis on your competition. An intern can fill in the basics like number of fans/followers or frequency of posting, but really you should be breaking down the types of content they are publishing and the level of engagement they are receiving.
By checking the types of content your competitors publish you can begin to measure their success rate for each medium. Take a look at the following types of content and see how they perform on the different social media platforms.
Sometimes a well-timed photo can go viral on Twitter, but lay a goose egg on Facebook. Your job is to figure out why.
3. Get a second opinion
Congratulations, you just made a completely subjective review of your main competitors’ social media strategies laden with your bias and aire of superiority. Face it, you’re probably not the most objective onlooker here. Therefore, you need someone to check your work. Select someone from outside of the marketing team, even better from outside the company, to run the same exercise. Maybe you have a vendor or colleague familiar enough with your industry to know the basics, but not so well that they play favorites. If nothing else, take your chart home and make your spouse review it.
4. Go one step further
It’s not enough to put social media in a vacuum to analyze it. It doesn’t work that way in real life so you can’t run your social media competitive anaylsis that way either. Your competitors’ strategies have likely evolved into a complex digital marketing blitzkrieg that includes content marketing, public relations, paid advertising, SEO and affiliate marketing, all of which feed into or play off of their social media channels. Break down their home page, their blog, identify their voice and their tone. How do they address their audience? Are they professional or casual? Are they funny or formal? Do they stay consistent or change it up between social media channels? Is it working? Why or why not?
The more questions you ask, the more clear the landscape will become. You’ll start to understand what your target audience is attracted to and which content it ignores. Armed with your new visual chart or social media reconnaissance, you’re better prepared to see what strategies are working and where your enemies have a chink in their armor. Don’t forget to analyze yourself and your social media performance over the last three months and compare your findings to those of your competition. Is something working well for them, that’s failing for you? Steal what works and throw out the rest. Have they completely forgotten about a social media channel that’s producing wonders for you? Keep exploiting that weakness and growing your community. It will be more difficult for them to catch up to your level of impact.
This regular round up of your competitors’ social media strategies should be completed on a quarterly basis, however for most industries, it’s becoming increasingly competitive battle for marketshare and you need real-time data to changes in pricing, products and overall marketing strategy.
We got you covered.