How To Use Social Media Data For Competitive Analysis was originally published on Forbes.com.
Social media data is a gold mine of valuable insights that can guide strategies, bolster customer relations, and inform competitive analysis. In this context, competitive analysis refers to evaluating your competitors’ social media strategies, understanding their online performance, and drawing insights to enhance your business strategies.
What role does social media data play in a competitive analysis?
Social media platforms are teeming with user interactions, opinions, and behaviors that hold a wealth of information about your industry, brand, and, importantly, competitors. In a competitive analysis, this data becomes a vital tool that can:
• Illuminate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
• Indicate market trends and customer preferences.
• Help you understand the impact of competitors’ marketing strategies on their audience.
• Enable you to see how your social media performance measures up against competitors.
You can use all of these insights to inform and improve your own social media strategy and gain a competitive edge.
But how exactly do you go about using social media for competitive analysis?
Identify Your Competitors
The first step is identifying your competitors. Competitors can be direct (those offering similar products or services in the same industry as your brand) or indirect (those offering alternative solutions to the same customer needs).
Next, you need to gather data on your competitors’ social media activities. This involves identifying what social media platforms they are using and collecting data on various key metrics. You can use social media analytics tools to help streamline this process, but we’ve found that it’s always best to review the data manually and consider data from both your own deep dive and any third-party tools you use.
There are myriad data points to consider when carrying out a competitive analysis. However, these are the most essential:
• Follower metrics: The number of followers provides a snapshot of the competitor’s audience size. But more crucially, their follower growth rate provides insights into the effectiveness of their audience-building strategies.
• Engagement metrics: Likes, shares, and comments are key indicators of how engaged a competitor’s audience is with their content. High engagement often signifies resonating content, while low engagement may indicate a disconnect.
• Posting frequency and timing: Understanding how often and when competitors post can offer insights into their content strategy. Posting frequency and timing impact visibility and engagement, and knowing this can help you optimize your posting schedule.
• Content: Analyzing the type of content (e.g., text, images, videos, blog posts) and themes (e.g., product promotion, educational content, user-generated content) your competitors share can help you generate ideas and identify potential gaps in your own content strategy.
• Sentiment: Using sentiment analysis tools, you can gauge public opinion about your competitors. Positive sentiment may indicate effective strategies worth learning from, while negative sentiment can highlight potential pitfalls to avoid.
• Response times: How quickly a competitor responds to comments or messages can reveal their customer service level, which can significantly influence public perception and loyalty.
Analyze The Data
Once you’ve collected data, analyze it to draw valuable insights. Take a look at trends, patterns, and correlations. Think of this as being much like doing a social media audit on your own brand’s social media efforts. Use these insights to understand your competitors’ social media strategies and their effectiveness.
Incorporate Your Findings Into Your Own Strategy
Finally, start to fold your findings into your own social media strategy. Look at how your competitors have positioned themselves in the market and take inspiration from that. See whether you can incorporate any particular language that works as part of the lexicon of your industry that you may not have been using before. You can review the creative. Are your competitors using more video than static images? If so, that could be something for you to fold into your marketing strategy.
Using social media data for competitive analysis is a powerful approach to staying ahead in today’s dynamic business environment. By systematically collecting and analyzing the right social media metrics, you can glean valuable insights into your competitors’ strategies, capitalize on their weaknesses, and learn from their strengths. Remember, the key to competitive analysis is not to copy but to learn, adapt, and innovate for your unique context and audience.