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Social Media Marketing

How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis in 6 Steps

Social media is an essential facet of all modern brands’ marketing strategies. Although there’s masses of potential in running an effective social media campaign, this has made social media as a channel highly competitive. 

In order to maximize your chances of success, you’ll need to have a keen understanding of your brand’s competitive landscape and a plan that will help you stand out from the noise.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to carry out a social media competitive analysis in six steps.

1. List Your Competitors

The first step in running a social media competitive analysis is to know which competitors you’re going to be studying.

Though you probably have a good idea of who your close competitors are already, it can be useful to expand this search and build a more detailed view of the competitive landscape your brand exists in.

Some effective ways of doing this can include:

  • Googling your brand name and listing companies who are bidding against you for PPC space.
  • Googling keywords associated with your flagship product or service and noting the businesses that are ranking for these terms.
  • Visiting your Twitter/X profile page as an incognito browser and looking for recommended pages to follow.

By building a list of your most significant competitors, with an emphasis on brands who have active social profiles with large followings, you’ll give yourself a strong starting point to carry out a thorough competitive analysis.

2. Segment by Platform

Different social media platforms cater to different content types and audiences. Just as these distinctions affect how people interact with brands on the platform, they’re important to consider the way you frame your social media competitive analysis.

Once you’ve curated a list of social media competitors that you’re satisfied with, you’ll need to look at each competitor’s activity and performance on the separate platforms where you’re competing for visibility.

Robust social media analytics tools can help you develop a comprehensive view of important performance metrics, such as follower counts, posting frequency, and rates of engagement to help benchmark your own performance and what you should be aiming to achieve.

Our Highperformr analytics suite lets you see a range of important metrics from a single intuitive dashboard, making it easy to compare your performance against those of your competitors and specify gaps that you need to close.

3. Analyze Brand Positioning

For the next phase, you should run a positioning analysis to build a better understanding of how your competitors are framing themselves on social media, and how you can fine-tune your own content to stand out from the crowd.

To do this, take recent content samples from each of the competitors you’ve listed, ranging from bios to posts to captions, and analyze them methodically to find common traits across their content. Looking at aspects like the length of sentences, their use of audience-specific jargon, hashtag density, and emojis, will enable you to reverse-engineer a set of miniature competitor style guides. 

With this information, you can help inform your content strategy and use of AI tools to develop your brand positioning strategy, and build content calendars that are more likely to stop people scrolling and engage.

To make your content creation more efficient and better-aligned with your brand positioning, be sure to try out our own AI content creation tools for social media bios, posts, and more!

4. Review Best and Worst Content

Now that you’ve codified the distinguishing features of your competitors’ content strategies, the next step is to investigate the content that’s driving your competitors’ success, as well as where things seem to be lacking.

Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses for a given account can be a good way to find patterns in terms of the kind of messaging where competitors fall short, highlighting opportunities you can take advantage of in your future strategy.

After analyzing some of your competitor’s top and bottom performing content, you may find that posts sharing client success stories tend to perform well, while content offering new takes on industry news falls by the wayside.

This could reveal an opportunity to develop a content calendar with more emphasis on sharing your expertise on industry developments, setting your brand apart from this particular competitor, and establishing yourself as a source of more unique and engaging content.

5. Carry Out a SWOT Analysis

At this stage, you’ll have a rich set of data on who your competitors are, their brand positioning, and the patterns that dictate their best and worst content. So, what should you do with all this information?

Like many things in business, collating your competitor data in a SWOT analysis framework will help you summarize your findings, and form a clearer idea of how you should apply your social media competitive analysis to develop your strategy and gain an advantage.

Here’s a look at how you can fill each quadrant of a SWOT analysis as part of your social media competitive analysis:

Strengths: Look at the areas where you’re beating your competitors’ benchmarks, or at least meeting them. If, for example, you’ve noticed that your UGC posts tend to get more engagement than similar content from your competitors, this could be an advantage that you should invest more time and resource in to gain an edge on your competitors.

Weaknesses: Review weak points in relation to the competitive landscape. If your engagement rate is lagging behind the competition, or your followers are significantly lower than your close competitors, these could be areas to optimize in order to bring your social media marketing in-line with the competition.

Opportunities: Find potential for expansion and growth that your competitors aren’t taking advantage of. For example, if your competitors share a habit of targeting small organizations from just a few niche industries, you could seize an opportunity to expand your audience focus and tap into markets that your competitors haven’t touched.

Threats: Think about the ways your competitors are posing a threat to your social media marketing efforts. For example, if a competitor has a large budget that allows them to produce high-quality video content with ease, this can be considered a threat you’ll have to try to mitigate, e.g by developing your own video content or focusing on other content forms posted more frequently.

6. Review and Adapt Periodically

A social media competitive analysis isn’t something you can do once and then forget about if you want to reap its full potential. 

To keep your social media marketing in-line with the dynamic nature of different social media platforms, it’s important to revisit your competitive analysis at least quarterly to make sure it reflects the landscape.

Some key things to consider when revisiting your analysis includes:

  • Whether any new competitors have emerged in your niche aside from your original list.
  • Any major shifts in terms of share-of-voice, engagement, content focus, etc.
  • Whether any of your competitors’ key influencers have risen or dropped in popularity.
  • Notable shifts in user feedback or sentiment affecting either you or your close competitors.

By periodically reviewing your social media competitive analysis, you’ll ensure that you’re constantly equipped with fresh, accurate data, and avoid letting major changes in your competitive landscape pass you by.

Growing Your Brand with Social Media Competitive Analysis

Knowing the strength of your brand relative to your competitors’ is essential for any marketer who wants to distinguish their brand from the wider market and gain an advantage over the competition. We hope this workflow has helped you make sense of the noise on social media, and inform a robust plan to expand your share of your niche.

For more support with analyzing your competitive landscape and carving out a distinct place in your market, sign up to Highperformr for free today!

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