Boost Your Social Media Strategy with Competitor Analysis
We’re all competing for followers’ attention on social media. And while you should be focused on the unique value and point of view that your business offers on these platforms, there are many benefits to understanding your competition.
You’ll better understand your shared target audience and gain some insight into how to engage with it. You’ll also generate ideas for the types of content you should create and spark some inspiration for how to make your brand stand out.
Keep reading to learn how to perform social media competitor analysis and incorporate your learnings into your social media strategy.
Set a Goal
Before you dive into your competition, think about what you’re hoping to gain from this endeavor. This could include:
- Growing your following
- Increasing engagement on organic posts
- Deciding which platforms to focus on to reach your target audience
- Finding PPC strategies that perform well
- Diversifying the types of content you post
Identify the Competition
You probably already have an idea of who your main competitors are — other businesses in your area that offer similar services to yours. On social media, your competition is more broad, expanding to any profiles that target similar keywords and audiences as you.
Start by identifying the main keywords your business ranks for in search engines as well as any long-tail keywords you want to target. Learn more about this process in our guide to SEO competitor analysis.
Next, search for those keywords on Google to find out which businesses are ranking at the top, and check out their social media profiles. (You can usually find the links to their profiles on their website footers or contact pages.) You also want to search those keywords on social media platforms — the rankings on Facebook, for example, could be very different from what you see on Google.
Pro tip: You’ll often see large websites like Tripadvisor in the top spots in the SERP for travel-related keywords. But these aren’t the competitors you want to target. Focus on websites for local business.
At the end of this research process, you should have a list of brands that are aligned with your business or target a similar audience. Narrow down your list of competitors to the top three to five who have a successful social media presence — they have a sizable following, they post regularly, and followers tend to engage with their posts.
Use a spreadsheet to keep your findings organized. It can be a simple sheet with columns for the business name, website, and social media profiles on all the major platforms. (You’ll add to this sheet in the next step.)
Take a Deep Dive into Your Competitors’ Profiles
Now that you’ve identified your top competitors, spend some time exploring each of their social media profiles and taking note of their types of posts and how they perform. Depending on your goals, you’ll want to keep track of certain benchmarks and add them to your spreadsheet as you go. Pay attention to:
- Number of followers
- Average number of posts per week
- Engagement on their posts (likes, comments, shares, etc.)
- Types of content they post (videos, image carousels, Instagram stories, etc.)
- Types of content that get the most engagement
- Number of boosted posts per week or month
- Number of hashtags they use and what those hashtags are
- Days and times when they typically post
- How often they respond to comments
- Ratio of giveaways and other promotional content vs. fun posts that engage the audience
If there’s ever a time to go down a social media rabbit hole, this is it! Don’t be afraid to go deep into certain hashtags or profiles. You never know where you’ll find inspiration.
You can perform all this research manually by browsing through your competitor’s profiles. But if you’d like to save time (and you have some room in your budget), you can explore paid tools such as Buzzsumo, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite to perform more in-depth analysis.
Create a Plan of Action
As you peruse your competitors’ profiles, you’ll get a sense of their content strategy. You might notice a competitor is getting great results from live video, or you might realize that they’re focusing too much on promotional posts that get little engagement and not enough on content that is valuable to their followers.
Use these insights to plan out how you will improve your own social media strategy and what gaps you can fill. For example, if you find most of your competitors are posting three times a week and you’re only posting once a week, it’s time to ramp up your posting schedule.
You can also use your findings to help prioritize the platforms you want to focus on. You might be spending a lot of time and effort on Facebook with little success, only to find that your competitors are getting great engagement on Instagram. This would suggest that your target audience is spending more time on Instagram, and you should shift your focus to this platform. Fortunately, since Facebook owns Instagram, it’s easy to share the same post to both platforms with the push of a button.
Once you’ve identified a few tactics or types of content you want to try, start implementing them! Be sure to measure your performance to understand what’s working.
Continue to Monitor
Just like you, your competitors are actively looking for ways to improve their own social media presence, so analyzing your competition should be an ongoing process. Plan to revisit your competitor analysis quarterly or at least annually. You might find that one competitor saw a huge increase in followers since you last checked, and you can take a look at their posts to get an idea of what prompted this growth.
Regularly checking on your competition can also help you identify new competitors as they emerge. Next time you perform your keyword analysis, you might discover new players in the game who are moving up the rankings!
Your own priorities and goals will also change over time. For example, maybe you tried out some video content and your audience responded well. So the next time you perform your competitor analysis, focus on video platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube and pay closer attention to competitors who are also using video as part of their content strategy.
One of the benefits of social media is it allows you to experiment with different tactics and get instant feedback from your followers. Be sure to perform social listening to get a better understanding of how audiences are talking about your brand and industry and get valuable insight into how to market to them.
Before you start creating new social media content from scratch, check out our guide to repurposing your existing content for Instagram.