Between the advances in technology and the explosive growth of social media over the last decade, websites such as Facebook and Twitter have become battlegrounds for businesses.

Simple elements of advertising such as blogs have become the focus of intense competition, with businesses seeking to divert the attention of customers away from the competition and towards themselves.

How does a business stay ahead of the game then?

By using the tools of the trade – analytics.

Being able to find, gather, and analyze the presence of your competition on social media platforms is crucial to remaining competitive and gaining an advantage.

It’s been said that in the “Information Age”, knowledge is power. When applying it in the context of business, knowledge is essential for survival.

Why You Need To Monitor Your Competitors’ Online Activity

The answer to the question is simple – because they are monitoring yours.

What every business needs to realize is, there is a wealth of information that can be accessed publicly that speaks volumes about your competition. You can benefit not only from their mistakes, but the things they’re doing right that helps them profit and stay ahead of you.

In order for you to monitor your competition, you need to know who they are.

Once you know who they are, the next task is to discover specific information that you can act on.

Lastly, you’ll want to compare the similarities between your business and theirs, focussing on the specific products and services they offer. Determine whether they had a recent surge in sales, and who their new customers are.

What Information Do You Need To Collect About Your Competitors?

There’s a lot of information you can collect, so you have to flush out the most useful type. Understanding your competitors is the precursor to being able to select what qualifies as the best information to use.

What do you do once you have collected this useful information about your competitors?

You’ll need to organize and analyze all your data.

During the process, you’ll want to focus on seven key elements that will give you a clear picture of your competition.

1. Brand Awareness

Brand Awareness - Social Media Analytics

Brand mentions are an important component of your online presence. The number of times that your brand is discussed in social media is an important indicator of your brand popularity. 

Normally, a brand would aim to increase the number of positive mentions continuously, and monitor closely sharp deviations from the monthly average. These changes might indicate a decline in interest or inefficiencies in the social media strategy.

Similarly, local peaks may indicate the success of short-term online campaigns or positive buzz about your business.

2. Social Media Performance 

 Social Media Performance - Social Media Analytics

An important element in assessing the social media strategy of your competitor’s brand is measuring their social media performance. Social media performance is usually determined by monitoring the following three components:

  1. Social accounts’ activity, as measured by the brand’s average number of social media posts
  2. Social media popularity, or the number of online engagements per day
  3. Brand’s communicativity, which indicates the number of times per day that the brand actually speaks directly with its followers, usually by replying to their social media posts

3. The Growth Rate Of Your Social Media Followers

Fanbase Growth - Social Media Analytics

The number of followers a brand attracts has been traditionally considered a major indicator when measuring the brand’s online success.

Businesses invest considerable efforts and resources in getting more users to follow their social media accounts. Despite the fact that the number of followers do not necessarily correlate with the level of engagement, it’s still important to monitor the changes as a sharp decline or growth should be looked at closely.

4. What Are The Demographics Of Your Followers?

Demographics of Your Followers - Social Media Analytics

Getting to know your followers is an important first step in teaching a business about its target market. 

One area a business can focus on is the type of content that their followers are more likely to respond to when shared on its social media accounts as well as on its blog.

Demographics are composed of a long list of indicators. Three important elements are the followers’ gender, the distribution of their age, and their average level of social media influence.

5. Where Are Your Followers Based?

Followers Locations - Social Media Analytics

Local businesses try to attract social media followers in their geographical area as potential customers. Global brands usually broaden their social media campaigns to include wider geography. Both local and global brands should be familiar with the geographical distribution of their users.

Geographical concentration can show how successful your brand is with attracting the type of followers that fit your products or services. Similarly, understanding the demographics of your social media followers can be an important component in designing new products.

6. What Are The Primary Interests Of Your Social Media Followers?

Followers Interests - Social Media Analytics

Each one of us is interested in various topics and we also engage with other social media accounts that consist of various ideas. Knowing the popular interests of your followers can assist in developing your brand.

With such information, you can focus on other topics of interest that your potential customers also like. For example, fashion brands can create and curate content that relates to similar interests like music, design, travel, food and beauty.

7. Monitor Keywords On Social Media To Identify Your Online Competitors

From the early days of the Google search engine, keywords have been critical in identifying products and services  and determining the rank on a search list.

Social media is no different.

Following specific keywords and hashtags can uncover competitors in other industries you were not aware of. Expand your search by using regional competitors who have a superior reputation in your vertical market.

Keywords Monitoring - Social Media Analytics

When analyzing keywords, it’s important to setup tracker with the relevant keywords to get the most accurate and complete results. It helps to include the obvious such as:

  • Your company name
  • The company names of known competitors
  • Your brand name
  • The names of your products
  • The important industry buzzwords

When considering how many keywords you should include, the rule of thumb is, too many is better than not enough.

Master Social Listening With Social Media Alerts To React To Your Competitors

Monitoring your competitor’s social media activities is only one part of maximizing your competitive advantage. To complete this equation, you’re going to have to do some social listening.

The goals of social listening are to be able to separate out all the social media noise that goes on in your industry and generate data for the specific information you are seeking.

For social listening to have any meaningful value there has to be a social media strategy connected to it.

Social Listening - Social Media Analytics

This strategy needs to include an analysis of search engine results, the use of the company’s brand name in social networks, and industry buzzwords that have a strong positive or negative emotion towards them by users.

Social media alerts can be set up to track and measure increases in chatter on social networks. Sudden increases in your competitor’s chatter may indicate a new product or dissatisfaction with an existing product.

Designing a strategy and collecting data is a good practice, but if you forget the purpose of the data collection is to hear what the customer is saying, you have missed the point.

Carefully listening to what the customers are saying can bring benefits to your company, regardless of what the competition is doing.

  • Additional sales
  • A doorway to open customer relationships
  • In some cases, being able to avert a crisis

Your social listening radar should be on and you should be listening 24/7 to achieve the best results.

Listening To Your Vertical Industry’s Social Media Campaigns

When narrowing down social listening to your vertical market, it will generate more accurate data because it will focus on the narrowest band of your industry. Social media campaign monitoring will uncover such information as:

  • What channels competitors are using to market their products
  • How the market is responding to their social media campaigns
  • How successful their social media strategy is

Depending on your industry, you may find certain times during the year, such as the holiday season, where social media listening will reap greater benefits than normal due to the heavy sales and interest volume.

While data and analysis are important, your social media content has powerful influence as it is the bridge between you and your customers.

Monitoring your competitors and using social listening is based on several elements that, when combined, ask and answer the necessary questions that are important to the customers.

This, in turn, makes it important to the social media strategy of your business.

Knowing what to monitor and what tools you are going to use for monitoring are key components to the success of your outcome. Gathering the data is one part of the process, but data that is incorrectly evaluated and analyzed is as bad as no data at all.

Be specific about the insights that are to be achieved by going through the social media monitoring activities. Communicate those insights to the relevant people and open a dialog with the affected customers.

By pursuing this goal you will stay ahead of your competitors.

Wondering how you can monitor your competitors with a social media analytics suite and increase your ROI with smarter usage of social media? Check out Twtrland 14-day free trial of social intelligence that helps you stay ahead.

 

Ron Sela

Ron Sela is Director of Marketing at Twtrland, a company focused on helping people use data to do smarter marketing. Ron is a digital marketer and conversion optimizer, focusing on maximizing ROI with content marketing campaigns.You can find and connect with Ron on Twitter at @RonSela and read his thoughts on his personal blog at RonSela.com.

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