Analyzing the competition in terms of social media provides valuable insights for a company’s social media plan. Whether one is developing a new social media plan or trying to improve an existing social media plan, it is important to understand how the competition is reaching out to its target audience through social media. By analyzing competitors’ social media activities, realistic benchmarks for the company’s social media plan can be set, based on what others in the industry are experiencing in terms of reach and relationship growth. This analysis enables the team to lay the framework for a successful social media plan that is based on the successes of other similar companies in the same space.
A company identifies its competitors as a result of the Identify Competition process discussed in the SMstudy® book on Marketing Strategy. After identifying its competitors, the first step in analyzing competitors’ social media activity is to identify their voice in social media websites—whether the competitor is portraying itself directly as the brand or whether individuals from the brand are promoting the product. The next step is to identify the level of engagement of competitors with their audiences. Relevant questions, which can be easily researched and answered, need to be framed to gauge the level of engagement.
It is also important to know how often competitors engage in specific activities that indicate their focus on various social media elements. Relevant questions need to be answered to gauge their focus. Some companies may have an extremely high frequency of activities but their level of engagement in each activity may be very small. Others might focus more on quality content, and participate in less frequent activities but may see an equal or higher level of engagement.
Insights into preferences for different types of content can also be discovered by analyzing competitors’ social media activity. A company can observe whether competitors are posting texts, links, videos, photos, polls, questions, trivia, or something completely different, and can see the types of posts that are of interest to the greatest number of customers.
Competitor analysis requires a lot of effort, mainly because there are many social media outlets and a company must keep track of competitor activity in as many of these outlets as possible. But tracking is made easier by a number of tracking tools in which a company can search for and analyze data about the competition.
After collecting data on its top competitors in all social media platforms, a company can gain an understanding of which social media outlets competitors are using the most, the type of content and updates they are sharing, and the responses of customers to such updates. Based on this analysis and the company’s objectives, the company can formulate its own social media plan.
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