Social Media Competitive Analysis

There are several reasons you might be looking at your competitor’s social media performance: To evaluate whether to begin a social media campaign of your own, to keep tabs on them, to research ideas and so on. Below are some of our favorite tools and tips for performing a social media competitive analysis.

Use a Social Media Competitive Analysis Template

Templates from an experienced social media resource are a good way to quickly sort out what kinds of information you should be looking at. It also gives you the “do it yourself” advantage: you learn more (not to mention save more) if you’re the one putting in the work.

Resources that offer a downloadable template:

  • Hootsuite : A social media aggregator that offers multi-platform posting and analytics. They produced a template and encourage users to fill it out regularly to spot trends and competitive gaps.
  • Demand Metric : A marketing research and advisory firm. They created a Social Media Competitor Tracking Template  for use with a proprietary, free social media marketing methodology. Whether you use the method or not, the free downloadable template offers you a starting place for monitoring competitors’ social performance.
  • 6D : A digital solutions provider. They offer an article and free template.

Create Your Own Template

If pre-formatted templates don’t meet your needs, then (sticking with the DIY theme) you can create your own template to monitor and create a competitive analysis. You need to know which competitors you plan to analyze and what your template should track.

Basic social media metrics questions to include for each competitor[1]:

  • On what platforms does it publish?
  • How many followers do they have on each platform?
  • How often are they posting? When are they posting?
  • What is their reach? (How many people see each post?)
  • What is their average engagement? (How many people are liking, sharing, commenting?)
  • Are they segmenting their audience with Groups, Twitter lists, etc.?
  • Is their audience primarily positive, or negative about their brand?

Then, carefully evaluate the content the competitor creates:

  • What do they talk about? Themselves or external industry news?
  • What kinds of content do they produce?
    • Graphics
    • Polls and Surveys
    • Videos
    • Contests
    • Articles
    • Live content such as Twitter Chats, Webinars, AMAs (Ask Me Anything)
  • What “Calls to Action” do they include?
  • What is their corporate voice and brand identity?

Finally, leave room to take note of unusual or exceptional ideas you see your competitors developing.

Use Social Media Monitoring Software or Service

If you plan to pursue competitive monitoring as an ongoing task, or if you plan to evaluate many competitors, turn to one of the many software and service packages available. There are two common types of social media tools that often include some kind of competitive analysis:

  • Social Media Aggregators: Aggregators, also called dashboards, are tools that allow you post to multiple social networks from one tool. Aggregators allow you to follow multiple accounts. Aggregators can help you stay on top of current hot topics. Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Seesmic are some of the most familiar, free aggregators.
  • Social Media Monitoring: Social monitoring services generally emphasize analytics over content. Social monitoring shows you how you compare to others, your influence over your audience and alerts you to spikes in chatter about specified keywords. Social monitoring can help you evaluate how you are performing in your market, and also alert you immediately if there is a problem regarding your brand. Klout, SpoutSocial and SocialMention are familiar, free monitoring services.

The line between aggregators and monitoring services often is very thin, with sites like Hootsuite offering social monitoring and competitive analysis features at the paid levels. Which tool is right for you is a very personal decision and there are literally hundreds to choose from. But whether you handcraft your competitive analysis or depend on software that does it for you, looking at how others execute their social media marketing is an excellent way to learn about and become inspired to work on your own.