There is a lot to learn from the competition – what they are doing right, wrong and everything in between. A social competitive analysis is a great way to highlight what separates you from the brands you admire most on social media. This type of audit will provide you with data to help you make the case to management for additional resources to remain competitive, like more budget or people power for graphic design or content marketing, for example. When done right, an audit provides actionable insights you can use to develop your social media and content plan moving forward.
Time and time again, we see many businesses getting caught up in “winning” on vanity metrics. These metrics, like number of followers, are the easiest to see and therefore the main metric considered. By taking your audit to the next level you can unearth some pretty cool insights with just a little extra work!
Step 1: Select Your Competitors
These can either be a direct industry competitor that your brand has already identified or another brand doing well in social that you believe has a similar target audience as you. If your brand is in an industry that is rare on social (i.e. manufacturing, B2B) you may need to work backward and determine who your target audience is and what brands they are following to find worthy competitors.
Step 2: Identify Your Metrics
There are three key areas we have found work well when comparing social performance across competitors: follower engagement, posting effectiveness, and content performance.
When deciding on the right metrics to pull you must keep in mind what the audience for this audit will be looking for. In most cases, executives at your company want a high-level overview along with charts that showcase the data in an easy to digest format.
Step 3: Ready, Set, Audit!
Once you've identified your competitors and key metrics, you're ready to go. Let's dig deeper into what exactly we want to pay attention to as we evaluate each of these key metrics: follower engagement, posting effectiveness, and content performance.
What should I look at? – Number of followers + overall engagement
Why is it important? – By looking at the number of followers + your total engagement you can determine the value your brand is getting from your followers.
When looking at this metric, we most commonly discover one of two issues:
- A brand has a large number of followers that they are proud to report on, but aren’t seeing near the level of engagement they should be with this many followers.A brand has a low number of followers and has low to zero engagement.
- A brand has a low number of followers and has low to zero engagement.
Even though these brands are very different both are experiencing the exact same issue: they aren’t posting the type of content their followers want.
If you have seen good audience growth with your social platforms, take it a step further and determine what kind of value these followers ultimately deliver for your company. Are they eventually becoming customers? Do they share your content? Whatever your goal, you need to be tracking everything on social to tie back any success and show the value your social efforts are creating.
What should I look at? – Number of posts + the engagement with those posts during a specific time frame
Why is it important? – By looking at the posting density + total engagement of those posts you can determine if you are posting at a frequency your followers are willing to engage with.
When looking at this metric, we most commonly find one of two things:
- A brand is posting multiple times per day on a single social platform and receiving little reaction from followers on any post.
- A brand is posting maybe twice a week on a single social platform and receiving little reaction from followers on any post.
These brands have very different posting frequencies, but they are experiencing the same level of reaction from followers – low. Many rules and guidelines have been stated about how many times a day, a week or even month your brand should be posting content. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no cookie cutter formula that can tell you the perfect posting frequency that will make all followers of any brand happy. You have to dig into the data for yourself to determine what works best for your brand and your followers.
If you are finding a low level of reaction from your followers, it could be your posting frequency, the type or topic of content you are posting, or even that you don’t have the demographic of followers you thought you did.
- Test varying posting frequencies – how often you post, the days you post, the times you post, etc. Take a look at which combination gave you the best results and stick with that!
- Test different content and content types – posting branded content, curated content, fun posts, professional posts, videos, infographics, etc. See which ones your audience responds to best and start adding more of those into your content calendar. With each post, be sure you can think of a reason why your followers would want to read or engage with that post. If you can’t, odds are your followers will keep scrolling.
- Take a look at what your competitors or social brand idols are posting that is really resonating with their followers. Is this a topic you could take advantage of as well? Brainstorm how you can seamlessly integrate this with your brand.
Content Type Performance
What should I look at? – Type of post + engagement
Why is it important? – By looking at your posts at the type level, you can compare which type your followers enjoy most, such as photo posts or video posts.
Depending on the social platform, a variety of different content types can be utilized, including links, images, video, and text. The type of content you post can have a strong effect on how engaged your followers are with your content. By looking at trends in content type, you may gain insight into why certain brands might be finding more success than others.
PRO TIP - Find this data for free: Within your Facebook Insights tab, you can view a chart (like the below) outlining post type and the corresponding reach and engagement.
- Look at your post type with the highest engagement. Is this the type you are currently putting the most effort into? By taking a high-level approach to your posts, you can see how well each post type is actually doing and where your effort should be focused.
- Look at the posts of your competitors with the highest engagement. Are they posting different types than you? For example, if you notice a well-performing competitor is posting more videos than you, this may be a content type to try and see if your audience also engages more.
What should I look at? – % of posts that receive likes, shares, comments vs. the % that receives zero.
Why is it important? – By comparing these percentages against your direct competitors, you can see if your engagement aligns with your industry or if you fall above or below average.
When looking at this metric, we most commonly see one of two things:
- Both you and your direct competitors have a lot of posts with zero engagement.
- You have a lot of posts with zero engagement but your competitors are having success with shares and likes.
If you are the brand in scenario 1, congrats! This is the perfect opportunity to step up your game and pull away from the crowd. If you fall into scenario 2, you need to take a hard look at the content you are posting versus what your competitors are posting.
In addition to social engagement with your content, make sure you are tracking any links you post in order to analyze website traffic and activity. If you’re regularly posting blogs and receiving likes but no one is going to your site to read the content, then your brand isn’t benefitting.
Paid Tools We Love
True Social Metrics
This paid tool offers in-depth reports and charts on the metrics that matter for social. With True Social Metrics, you can find these insights for both your brand and a number of competitors.
This paid tool offers insight if you are looking at the type of content a brand is posting or the type of content that sees the most success on a specific social platform.
If you start to feel that your brand’s social profiles are growing stagnant, completing a competitive audit is the perfect way to jump start a new strategy and content plan. If you’re looking for help in conducting this type of audit for your brand, talk to us to see how we can help!