Brent Barnhart
June 28, 2020

How to Analyse Your Social Media Competitors

Looking to keep tabs on your social media competitors? This guide highlights how to conduct a competitive analysis to guide your own social strategy.

It’s no secret that the social landscape is crowded with competition.

Because not only are you competing with other businesses in your space but also brands outside of your industry that eat up your audience’s attention.

Competitive analysis is a must-do for brands on social media for the sake of figuring out the following:

  • Which types of content you should publish

  • How to make your messages stand out from the crowd

  • Whether or not you should invest in social ads
And sure, analysing your social media competitors can be daunting.

That’s why we put together a succinct strategy to highlight who your social media competitors are and uncover ways you can beat ‘em regardless of your budget.

4 Must-Answer Questions for Your Social Media Competitors

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about what a “competitor” on social media actually is.

For example, a small cafe in Sydney isn’t necessarily competing with the likes of Coffee Club or Gloria Jean’s on social media.

Yeah, you might have some crossover fans and publish similar content. That said, your budget and reach aren’t exactly fair to compare.

When analyzing social media competitors, you should prioritize companies that look like your own in terms of size and target audience.

Chances are you’re aware of local and digital businesses competing in your space. One smart way to zero in on your direct competitors is by looking at how people are finding you via Google (think: “birthday cakes Canberra” or “Peth yoga studio”). With these results handy, you can put together a list of competitors.

After that, there are four particular questions to ask of your competitors to see where you stand (and how you can make your content stand out).

1. “Which networks they’re active on?”

Figuring out which social networks are right for your business depends largely on your industry.

If you notice that all of your direct competitors are active on Instagram, you should likely be there as well.

But also bear in mind that you need to use your time and resources wisely. You can’t be everywhere at once.

Let’s say you only have one major competitor on Facebook with just a handful of followers. That certainly doesn’t mean you need to be on Facebook, too. In fact, your time would likely be better-spent laser-focused on one or two platforms versus spreading yourself thin.

Just because someone isn’t active on a network doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities there, though. Case-in-point, platforms like TikTok are booming right now. There’s a window of opportunities for brands to get on board before the platform becomes business as usual.
The takeaway here is to use your best judgment and see what platforms are a priority to your competitors. This surface-level analysis can clue you in on where you should be active.

2. “Are they running paid campaigns?”

If your social media competitors are running ads (think: Facebook remarketing ads) or investing in influencer campaigns, they’re taking social seriously when it comes to lead generation.

This also signals that there’s a potential audience for your business to target if and when you decide to do the same.

Although you might run into some social ads organically, Facebook Ad Library allows you to pull up your competitors’ most recent campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram.
Studying their offers, ad copy and calls-to-action, you can get a better sense of their messaging and what they’re doing to reel in customers.

3. “What does their content strategy look like?”

Brands on social are spoilt for choice in terms of their content strategies.

This spells good news if your competitors’ own content isn’t particularly diverse. Below are some points to consider as you analyze your competitors:

  • Are they producing video content?

  • Do they regularly publish Stories and ephemeral content?

  • Do they run regular promotions or contests?

  • Are they reposting user-generated content?

  • Do they couple their content with #hashtags?
Based on this, you can figure out how to go beyond the ordinary in terms of your content strategy.

Also, note which posts are working well for your competitors and how you can put your own creative spin on the same types of content. Foodie Instagrams like Lick Your Phone and Chewtown might look like they post little more than “just pictures of food” at a glance.
However, looking closely you can see Lick My Phone’s photos are more candid while Chewtown’s are polished and arranged. Although both use static photos to “wow” their followers, they take totally different approaches to doing so.
See how that works?

4. “How does their tone compare to ours?

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to define yourself versus your competitors on social media is through your tone of voice.

For example, is your brand humorous? Laid-back? Super stoic and serious?

Check out how Patagonia and Paddy Pallin post similar outdoorsy content yet have totally different voices in terms of their captions.
During your competitive analysis, note how your competitors talk to their customers in both captions, post copy and comment sections. Your voice is a subtle way to distinguish yourself from the competition without having to overhaul your content strategy.

Metrics and KPIs for Assessing Your Social Media Competitors

Now, let’s talk about how data factors into analysing your competitors on social media.

There are tons of metrics and KPIs you can track. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll focus on some key data points to monitor yourself (or with the help of some freemium tools).

Engagement Rate

This is the big one.

Don’t freak out if your social media competitors have more followers than you. Engagement rate, which measures the ratio to social engagements (think: likes, comments, shares) versus total follower count, is a much more meaningful metric.

Think about it. What goes is 10,000 followers if only a handful of them engage with any given post?

There are tools out there such as the Phlanx engagement rate calculator which can help you track engagement on Instagram. You can likewise look for yourself on Facebook or Twitter to see how your competitors’ follower counts compare to their level of engagement.

Follower Growth

Again, follower count is overrated.

By tracking follower growth, you’ll determine if your competitors are actively building their audience. If their growth is stagnant or falling, there could be a potential opportunity for you to grow your own following.

Tools like HypeAuditor allow you to measure follower growth over time for any given account, including a specific number of new (or lost) followers within the past four weeks.
Meanwhile, paid tools like Sprout Social actually allow you to examine side-by-side how your growth compares to your social media competitors over time.

Share of voice

Pop quiz: who’s dominating the conversations in your industry?

Particularly on Instagram and Twitter, hashtags are a great place to both discover competitors and understand which accounts are getting the most love in your space. You can likewise see relevant tags that your business could target to grow your own account.
Tools like Keyhole can help you examine the top players for any given hashtag. Here you can uncover competitors, influencers and key terms relevant to the conversations your customers are actually having.

Publishing Frequency

The question here is simple: how active are your competitors on social media?

For example, are they posting fresh content to Instagram on a daily basis? Do they actually respond to comments? Do they pretty much just dropping new posts every day or so (see Xero’s Twitter below)?
Looking at your competitors’ publishing frequency can help figure out your own. You might notice that you can commit more to a platform than your competitor, giving you a chance to grow your audience faster. The same rings true if your competitors don’t respond to comments or engage with customers via social.
“Okay, But What Do I Do With All of This Information?”

Good question! There is no “right” way to analyse your social media competitors.

Many companies keep their competitive analysis confined to a spreadsheet. For example, you can use Excel to take notes on your competitors’ content strategy and growth which you update over time.

You could also create a one-off presentation about your competitors, highlighting what they do well and what you could do better.

What really matters most is that you’re conducting competitive analysis at all. Rather than trying to wing it on social media, putting together a presentation like this gives you a roadmap for where your strategy should go.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!
Ready to Analyse Your Social Media Competitors?

Competitive analysis on social media doesn’t have to be a tedious, time-consuming process.

Find your competitors. Answer the questions above. Do your homework.

By doing so, you’ll better understand how to position your brand and stand out from the crowd. If you need help doing exactly that, contact Hello Social today so we can hash out a strategy that makes sense for you.

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