Social media competitive_analysis_by_simply_measured
HOW TO ANALYZE
YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
HOW TO ANALYZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE
In social media, the only thing constant is change. And while you probably
monitor your own channels very closely, if you haven’t looked over the
proverbial fence lately, you should make it a priority.
Social audiences are fickle. Though users rarely up and quit a social
media site, they tend to fall in and out of love with different channels. And
competitors can be just as unpredictable. So before you get too comfortable
with your long-term social media strategy, consider performing a competitive
This guide will give you some compelling reasons for doing so, things to
consider before you begin, and advice to make sure you draw as much
valuable insight as possible from the exercise.
WHY PERFORM A COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS?
As they say, you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. In
addition to keeping you updated on your competitors’ activities, an analysis
can empower you with key information that you can use at your discretion.
A survey of the competitive landscape can:
• Provide market context, especially in respect
to emerging audiences and social platforms
• Identify opportunities for growth or expansion
into new social media channels
• Provide insight to inform content creation
and increase engagement
• Give you ideas about how you can stay
competitive, or even gain an edge
• More accurately measure your own success
Social media analytics software like Simply Measured can make it easy
to get into the habit of analyzing your competitors on a regular basis. And
it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. You can set it up to report on
different competitors and channels on a staggered basis, or during times
like holidays or conference season when you know activity will be high.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Make a list of your competitors and determine which social channels they
currently use. First visit their sites and blogs and look for follow and share
buttons to ensure you’re looking at the right pages. This especially comes
in handy when it appears a brand isn’t active on a particular social channel,
but a quick check on their website reveals you actually stumbled upon the
wrong Twitter handle or Facebook page. Then cover all your bases and
visit Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and
LinkedIn for cross reference, in case your competition doesn’t have all their
social plugins up on their sites.
PRO TIP: Do you know exactly who your competitors are? There might
be some emerging companies you haven’t even heard of yet. Performing
a persona analysis and searching by user metrics can help you ferret
out upstarts that may not be on your radar. It just may be that your best
customers know something you don’t.
Once you’ve made a short list of companies you want to research, decide
which metrics you want to measure. These could include:
• Number of fans/followers and segmentation across all channels
How many of the same people follow the company on multiple sites?
Are there two or three sites that are most popular among your audience,
or do they use four or five sites regularly?
• Audience footprint
Combine audience members across all individual sites you’re analyzing.
For example, a company with 1,000 followers each on Facebook, Twitter,
Pinterest and Vine would have a combined footprint of 4,000 followers.
How often do people post on, comment on, like, share or retweet
your competitors’ content? The more engagement, the more often
their users are likely checking in.
• Frequency of posting
How often does the competitor post something new on their channels?
Which sites are they most active on, and which ones do they tend
How long does it take them, on average, to respond to a comment,
request or complaint on social? This is an important measurement
of company engagement, and shows you whether their community
managers are listening and following up on a regular basis.
• Type of content
What types of things does the company like to post? Articles, photos,
videos? How about a mix? Are they creating original content, posting
curated content, or sharing user-generated content? The type of
content also gives clues about the company’s level of engagement
with any given social channel.
• Sentiment analysis
This is a measure of how users feel about the company and/or its
social media activity, using keywords and text analysis. Is it positive,
negative or neutral?
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs)
In order to keep your analysis manageable, you may want to establish KPIs,
which represent certain standards over a period of time. These can help you
focus more closely on certain time periods associated with industry-wide
engagement (if you sell ski apparel, your customers might be most active
in the winter). Or, you could measure KPIs associated with major marketing
pushes in your calendar year.
KPIs can include average shares, comments, retweets or use of hashtags.
They can also be used to measure use of site functionality (Google
Hangouts, for example).
PRO TIP: Don’t have the time or resources to perform a comprehensive
competitive analysis? Hone it down to a few KPIs and you can at least
get targeted results that can inform your next big promotion or content
SHARE OF VOICE
Some companies are going to have larger social media audiences than
others. If your company caters to a small market niche (Human Resources
Managers for chain steakhouses, for example), you’ll have a fraction of
the followers of, say, people who love steak dinners. Share of voice is an
important metric to help you see how big a slice of the pie you have in
comparison to others. If yours is small, you may be able to learn a few things
from the companies that have the audience’s ear.
If “content is king,” content format would be queen. Most social media sites
allow content to take on several forms, and a smart marketer will choose
these forms based on what her audience responds to best.
In general, content falls into four basic categories: original content
(company-generated), shared/curated content (links, retweets, shares),
user-generated content and paid content.
Within these categories, content can take many forms: text-only posts,
picture-only posts, text posts with links, graphics (images with text), videos,
long-form articles, etc. Quite often, the same original content can be
tweaked or repurposed to resemble one or more forms. An article could be
turned into a video or infographic, a short post could be turned into a chart,
a few short news items can turn into an original article – you catch our drift.
Depending on which type of content is popular, the same basic item – with a
bit of tweaking – could give you much better results.
Did you know?
Our most recent Twitter study found that Tweets with
images and links significantly increase engagement.
Download the full study for all the stats!
Shared and curated content is easy and quick. Depending on how good
the company is at recognizing trends, the item could gain a lot of attention if
posted early enough in the cycle.
Pro tip: No company – especially yours – should rely primarily on outside
content to populate its channels. A bit of it is fine, but a lot indicates
laziness and unoriginality. With a little effort, you can create original
content for your social channels – and link it back to your site so you get
the credit (and the traffic).
User-generated content can be solicited (video or photo contests are a
great way to encourage your audience to do this), or it can be “earned.”
Most of the time, it will be text-based, but not always. User-generated
content can be negative, positive, or neutral – though companies will
often take down negative stuff fairly quickly.
Did you know?
Social media contests are a great way to create
lots of user-generated content. If you’re interested
in running one, download our guide “How to Plan,
Execute and Measure Social Media Contests.”
Paid content is also good to measure, especially if your competitors use
paid to promote their other channels. Your analysis might reveal a spike in
new followers after a competitor ran a series of paid posts on a different site.
By performing content analysis, you can discover how potential customers
respond to different types and formats. You can also see which types of calls
to action (CTAs) work better than others, and how your content stacks up
against the competition.
IDENTIFYING AND LEVERAGING SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONAS
Because an audience is such a big, amorphous group, it can be hard for a
marketer to break it down for the purposes of communication and content.
Often, it helps to remember what an audience is: a group of individuals.
Building social media personas is a powerful tool to help you better
communicate on a personal level.
A social media persona is a made-up person, meant to represent a typical
audience member based on that audience’s characteristics. A persona puts
a virtual face on your customer, and helps you target information that will be
most appealing to that person.
A social media persona shouldn’t just be a profile (“25- to 30-year-old white
suburban college graduate working in technology”) but an actual character
with a face, name, gender, location and occupation. Use a stock photo if you
must, and add enough detail so the person seems real and relatable. When
your whole team focuses on selling to a prototypical customer, it’s easier to
stay on the same page.
A social media persona is based on characteristics such as:
• Demographics: Age, gender, education, marital status, geographical
location, household income, etc.
• Psychographics: Soft data, including information such as political
leanings, amount of spare time, hobbies and interests, and what your
customer thinks about your brand and related products
• Occupation/industry: What the person does for a living, professional
affiliations, level of experience, etc.
• Media and social outlets: Where does this person go online to find
information, consume news, keep in touch with work/family, and network
with friends? When is the best time to reach him?
• Use of technology around your product: Does this person talk a lot
about your product category online? Share information about purchases
or online deals? Use a mobile or tablet device to research or shop?
• Buying behavior: How often do they purchase your product or use your
service, what do they use it for, and what other brands are competing for
Developing buyer personas can help you see if your best customers may
be congregating on some social media channel you’re not using. If you
incorporate persona metrics into your competitive analysis, you might be able
to take some lessons from a rival’s playbook when you start building your
presence on new channels.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Once you’ve gathered information from all your reports, it’s time to analyze
it. Try to figure out the “whys” – why did Company X’s Valentine’s Day
promotion work so much better than Company Y’s? Which types of users
tend to be influencers and thought leaders among the general group of
One helpful tool is a SWOT analysis – a traditional marketing exercise that’s
especially useful in comparing oneself against the competition. SWOT stands
for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats:
Characteristics of the social media presence that give the
competitor an advantage over yours
Characteristics that give it a disadvantage relative to others
Things you could leverage to your advantage (weaknesses
or holes in the company’s social media strategy, product line,
logistics – anything that could give you an edge)
Things that others could leverage that would put your company
at a disadvantage, including areas where your company could
stand to improve
In conclusion, performing regular and thorough competitive analyses is vital
to your success as a social media marketer. Audiences and trends move at a
lightning pace, and keeping up with the Joneses is a good way to measure
your own success – and effectively plan your next move. Though you may
not always be able to act on the information you uncover, the insight it
provides will help you enormously in making decisions and reaching your
audience wherever they may congregate.
HOW SIMPLY MEASURED DOES IT
All Account Avg.
1,205 total engagement
341k total followers
22.4M total impressions
341k total followers
1,056 total tweets
Twitter Comparison: Total Engagement
Leader sends about 12 tweets per day and gets
an average of 0 interactions per tweet.
Leader has a 54% share of impressions and
gets an average of 72k impressions per tweet.
Leader has 129k (318%) more followers
than the next best brand @StarwoodBuzz.
Leader tweets less often than average.
Content is mostly normal tweets and links.
Relative Share of Engagement
Engagement as % of Followers
How does the leader compare?
Click here to see the full sample Twitter Competitive Analysis Report.