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According to Sprout Social’s survey, 85% of companies rely on social data as a primary source of business insights. And with almost 4.6 million people on social media networks, they are a crucial part of your growth strategy.
It’s no longer news that there’s fierce brand competition — in every industry — roaming the web. So, how do you outcompete your brand competitors and grow your business on social media? By doing social media competitor analysis.
When you learn your competitors’ moves, you find ways to reinforce your brand strengths, improve on your shortcomings, and take advantage of opportunities. In this guide, we’ll go over what social media competitor analysis means, its benefits, the steps to take when performing this analysis, and a list of the tools you need.
What is social media competitor analysis?
Social media competitor analysis is the process of evaluating your competitors on social media to find opportunities and build strategies for brand growth. Performing this analysis allows you to identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to develop a working social marketing strategy. It also reveals relevant information about your target audience, why they’re interested in competitor brands, and how these brands do better at social media marketing.
Why is social media competitor analysis important?
Social media competitive analysis has its own advantages outside the strategy you use to examine your SEO competitors. It allows you to:
1. Understand your ideal clients better
Performing a social media competitive analysis lets you gain deeper insights into who your ideal clients are. Knowing your customer personas empowers you to get more marketing results because you understand:
What social media platforms your ideal clients use
How they consume content
The types of content they’re searching for
What pain points they need solutions for
What time they’re active on social media
2. Build a better social strategy
When you understand how and why your competitors are performing better than your brand, you can create a working social media strategy, or improve it if you already have one.
A social media competitor analysis challenges you to do your best because it compares your methods and results against the competition. Also, you can identify gaps to leverage for brand growth, and threats you need to deal with.
3. Create relevant content
It’s only natural that your ideal clients choose the brands whose values and content they align with. A social media competitor analysis will make you top of mind among your ideal clients.
This is because you’ll identify the types and formats of content they want to see. Also, you can take advantage of the content gaps you discover to create fresh, valuable content for your audience.
4. Better marketing and positioning
By conducting a social media competitive analysis, you can leverage your social platforms for more effective marketing. When you see what’s working for your competitors, you’ll start to use relevant, underused social media features and strategies.
More so, this empowers you to come up with a positioning strategy to differentiate your brand from the competition — and become an authority in your industry.
Six competitive analysis tools for social media
Alongside your traditional analytics tools, which we’ll talk about later, you need specific social media tools to perform efficient competitor analysis on these platforms. We’ve included six options below:
1. Not Just Analytics
Not Just Analytics, formerly called Ninjalistics, is an analytic tool for Instagram and TikTok. With this social media competitive software, you can monitor the growth of competitor profiles, the hashtags they use, and their engagement rates.
All you have to do is enter your competitors’ profiles into Not Just Analytics and analyze them. For example, after analyzing Isis Brenna’s Instagram profile, marketing strategist for business coaches, here’s what Not Just Analytics displays:
Social Mention by BrandMentions is a search engine for collecting user-generated content on social media, blogs, news, and videos.
Once you enter a competitor brand, Social Mention tracks and shows you all the conversations about them — who’s talking about them, what they’re saying, and on which platforms:
Socialbakers is a social media management tool that makes it easy to monitor all your social media platforms in one place. It works best for agencies.
This tool allows you to measure and compare your content performance to improve brand growth. In addition, Socialbakers has free competitor analysis tools for Instagram and Facebook, and you can analyze up to five competitor profiles.
4. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a suite of social media management tools for better brand marketing. It has scheduling, analytics, and competitor analysis tools for all business sizes and types.
Sprout Social’s competitor analysis feature allows you to monitor your competitors’ audience growth and publishing schedules.
Sociality is a full-service tool for social listening, scheduling, and competitor analysis.
With this social media competitor analysis tool, you can gain insights into your competitors’ paid ad campaigns, social media performance metrics, and content strategy and history.
BigSpy is a free tool for analyzing your competitors’ ads on social media. This ad library holds a database of advertisements on different social networks.
BigSpy helps both small businesses and large enterprises find campaign inspiration from their competitors to create better marketing campaigns and social media strategies.
How to do social media competitor analysis
Performing social media competitor analysis doesn’t have to be a hassle. Whether you use Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube, here are the five steps to analyze competitor businesses.
1. Figure out your brand goals and metrics
Before examining and comparing competitors’ performances, figure out what you want. It’s important to always start with the end — your brand goals — in mind.
Determine the answers to questions like:
What are your goals for marketing on social media?
How do these fit into your overall brand goals?
What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you track to measure success?
Who are the ideal clients you want to reach?
2. Identify your brand competitors
It’s impossible to analyze your competitors on social media if you don’t know who they are or which social platforms they use.
Watch out for both direct and indirect competitors — that is, businesses that offer similar products or services and those that solve the same problem as you. Then, list your top five competitors.
You can find out your competitors by:
Using Moz’s free SEO competitive research tool
Enter your site domain and click Analyze domain. You’ll get a list of your top competitors and keywords you can target. You can head over to their websites, find their social handles, and see what they’re doing.
Using Google search
By using the search engine result page (SERP), you can find competitors ranking for your keywords on social media, although this can be a tasking process.
Enter your target keyword and take note of the websites, and especially social media profiles, that pop up during your search.
For example, if you enter the keyword “launch copywriter,” here’s what you’ll find on page one:
From the screenshot above, the websites ranking are likely competitors for that keyword. However, you need to check their social profiles to see if they are also social media competitors.
For this query, there’s an Instagram profile ranking as the fifth result and the only social media profile on page one. So, if you were looking to build a strong social presence as a launch copywriter, you’d analyze this profile for their strategies.
Searching on the target social platform
If you’re looking to grow your brand visibility for a specific product or keyword on a social media platform, enter the term in the search bar of that platform and go through the accounts or hashtags that pop up to see if there are competitors you’d like to analyze.
Screenshot from Pinterest’s search bar
Screenshot from Twitter’s search bar
3. Collect and analyze data
Data analysis and collection make up the majority of this process. To make it easier, you can choose a convenient analysis tool from the ones mentioned above to study, analyze, and compare the performance of your competitors.
And while you might have your brand KPIs, here are the important social media metrics to track during competitive analysis:
Number of followers
Social media ads insights
Share of voice
Estimated organic traffic to the page
Quantity of keywords the competitor
Using a simple tool called Keywords Everywhere, figuring out metrics 6 and 7 can be easy.
Install the Chrome extension for this tool. Once done, type “[the social media platform] + [brand name]” in Google Search. Then, move your cursor over the metric kw(us):
For example, when you enter “Instagram.com gucci,” here’s what you get:
This shows that Gucci’s Instagram page ranks for 312 keywords and gets up to 24,600 visits per month.
To further simplify your social media competitor analysis, here are some of the questions you should consider:
What is your competitors’ audience growth rate?
How does their content strategy look? What content type do they focus on — informational, entertaining, aspirational, or promotional? Which content formats do they use? Is it videos, texts, lives, carousels, etc.? What is their posting schedule?
Which posts get the highest engagement, such as likes, comments, and shares?
What is their engagement rate, on average?
What other social media marketing types do they use, apart from organic promotions? Is it sponsored posts, collaborations, paid ads, referrals, or influencer marketing?
How does their hashtag strategy look? Which hashtags do they use? How many, and how often?
Now, compile everything you’ve analyzed so far into a spreadsheet. This makes it easy to track and evaluate data at a glance:
Bonus: instead of creating a spreadsheet from scratch, you can use this social media competitor analysis template by Sprout Social.
4. Create a social media strategy
Data analysis is important when evaluating your social media competitors, but data interpretation is more necessary. Everything in your spreadsheet is only lines, figures, and charts if you don’t know how to use the data collected for business intelligence.
Meagan Williamson, Pinterest marketing expert and business coach says, “When your competitors have impressive metrics, it’s essential to understand what they are doing well to build a better social media strategy. Also, their weaknesses (that is, what they aren’t doing well) can be opportunities for your brand growth. Build a data-driven strategy that allows you to look at what’s working and what’s not, and how you can take advantage of these insights to accomplish your business goals.”
With this spreadsheet information, create a four-part SWOT analysis table for your strategy.
SWOT analysis is a well-thought overview of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to help you make informed business decisions.
5. Keep tabs on account progress
After doing your social media competitive analysis, that’s not the end. You need to keep tabs on your profile and, of course, the competition. This allows you to:
Monitor brand progress
Notice new competition quickly
See if your social media strategy is working
Identify new growth opportunities
Keep your marketing plan up-to-date
It’s crucial to stay on top of both industry and social media trends.
Stick to a routine to regularly analyze your social media competitors — whether that’s monthly, quarterly, mid-yearly, or annually. Also, ensure that you update your competitor research spreadsheet to identify new opportunities or threats.
Social media competitive analysis is vital to your brand growth, as it allows you to build a solid social presence, customer trust, and brand credibility.
By mastering the steps above, you can conduct this analysis for any of your social media profiles. Figure out your brand goals and turn analyzed, organized metrics into context-rich insights to improve your social media strategy.