Coke and Pepsi, Apple and Samsung, PlayStation and Xbox – these are just some of the most popular competitors in their respective industries, and I bet you all could name quite a few other business rivals like them.
It’s also not all about the big fish, though. There are small and medium businesses that have to face fierce competition as well. No matter how small your industry is, there will always be someone that could be considered your competitor and you should do your best to keep tabs on them not to fall behind.
The best place to spy on competitors these days? Social media, obviously!
What’s social media competitor analysis all about?
It’s a must for a vast majority of businesses to be present on social media. These are the channels for activities ranging from customer service, collecting customer feedback, or content promotion to simply chatting with followers (or putting out the fire in case a PR crisis hits you!).
Having a close look at how your competitors deal with those activities might teach you a valuable lesson both in terms of what they’re good at and what you could learn from, but also what to avoid not to replicate their mistakes.
Ok, but how do I actually spy on them?, you might ask. One of the most effective ways for your social media competitor analysis to be successful is to use a social media monitoring tool like Brand24, for instance.
It’s fairly simple. All you need to do is to create a free trial account and set up your project by filling it in with the keywords related to your competitors, like their names, products, or social media handles.
What do I do if I don’t know who my competitors are?
One of the coolest things about keyword tracking tools is that not only do they help you track particular brands, but also all the conversations about any topic imaginable, so all the talks around different industries as well.
Imagine you run a barbershop and you’re aware of one, maybe two more in your city, but you’d like to know if there are more out there that you should keep an eye on. What I’d recommend is to simply track the barber shop keyword alongside the name of your city as the required keyword, as I did on the example below:
Such search should return a nice number of online mentions like this:
This particular mention took me to Reddit where the original question about the recommendation appeared:
If I was the owner of a barbershop in London in search of his competitors, I’d definitely take note of all the places mentioned in the thread, but I’d also take a step further and try to reach out to the author of the question myself, offering him a fresh cut. Sometimes it’s all about being proactive!
Anyway, once you have the list of competitors ready, I’d recommend creating a separate project for each of them, same as I did on the example of tracking London’s barber shops.
Having one project per competitor will make it easier to compare them to each other, but more on that later.
Now that we have project creation covered, we can focus on the essence of social media competitor analysis, which is browsing and analysing mentions.
Take notes from mentions generating the biggest engagement for your competitors
Whenever you try to keep tabs on your competitors, there will always be a wide variety of mentions to look at. Some of the posts related to them will have tens or maybe even hundreds of reactions, and some will be less popular.
Pay attention to what could be the reasons for some of the posts performing better than others, no matter if these are social media posts created by your competitors themselves, or posts from other people mentioning them.
Imagine you’re Wizzair and you want to keep track of the interactions Ryanair has.
After you’ve set up your project and collected some mentions, they’ll be presented graphically in the dashboard. Apart from social media reach and a number of mentions of your competitor, you’ll also be able to monitor social media interactions such as likes, shares, and comments:
You can browse each day separately. Clicking on a given date will filter out results for this particular day only:
On top of that, you can use the interaction filter located on the right side of the dashboard:
Thanks to this filter, you won’t have to dig through the less relevant and engaging mentions that pop up in your social media competitor analysis, and you’ll be able to display only the results with a desired number of interactions:
It’s all intertwined with sentiment analysis, which means you can analyze both positive and negative mentions of your competitors in search of their interactions with customers and examples of how they handle both criticism and praise:
When a customer sends out a tweet like this, there’s not much competitive airlines could do about it, but they might as well reply with something along the lines of We would be happy to help you with your future flights in case you travel back to Bari!
Not only does a statement like this give the impression of a brand listening to its customers and potential customers, but it’s also an example of an interaction that can be monetised as long as the author of a tweet is interested in the offer.
Keep track of influencers talking about your competitors
Influencer marketing has been a hot topic for quite some time now and we’re all well aware of that. Influencers are the people who amplify the brand message and get the word out to the masses.
A study conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub showed an increase of 325% in Google searches for “influencer marketing” between 2016 and 2017. This only emphasises the rise in popularity of this marketing strategy.
Instagram seems to be the go-to platform these days, but the focus of your influencer marketing efforts is heavily dependant on where your target audience is and who are the leading influencers in your niche on that platform.
That’s an aspect of social media competitor analysis that can also be supported by social media monitoring. Once again, you’ll need to use one of the filters available in the dashboard that will help you separate the wheat from the chaff:
Using this filter, you are going to find who are the influential users talking about your competitors and what exactly do they say about them. Obviously, you’re not going to try to approach those who are in love in with your competitors, but chances are there are some of them who had a bad experience and who you’d have a chance to convert to your brand ambassadors.
Just seen Ryanair are charging everyone for hand luggage from 1st November!!!! You fucking cunts
No leg room
No hand luggage
What?s next paying to sit down or pay to have a shit!!!!!
— Scotty T MBE (@ScottGShore) October 3, 2018
I am sure a person of nearly 2 million Twitter followers is somewhat influential and some brands might want to co-operate with them.
It might be a little risky considering we’re talking about the Geordie Shore star here, but anyway, if I was doing a social media competitor analysis or simply running social media customer service for one of Ryanair’s competitors, I’d surely try to somehow engage him so that the next time he chooses to fly with someone, he flies with the airline I work for and recommends it to his followers.
On a side note, while browsing all airline related mentions in preparation of this post, I find a perfect example of what social media monitoring is about and what makes it even more awesome is the proactive approach Flight Refunds took!
Check out what keywords are used the most frequently alongside your competitors’ names
Discussions about your competitors are related to a wide variety of topics. Word cloud a.k.a. The context of discussion gives you a comprehensive overview of the words that are used the most frequently in relation to your competitors. We’ll use the example of Ryanair once again:
Strike seems to be the standout word and it indicates that many people are probably disappointed with the cancellations of different flights caused by employees’ strikes. It’s another example of a situation where a competitor might chime in the conversations with an alternative offer.
Let’s have a look at what WizzAir’s word cloud looks like:
It seems like there’s nothing here that the competitors might take advantage of, which is bad for them, but great for the Hungarian airline. Nevertheless, it’s well-worth reading those conversations in search of some ideas you could implement yourself, especially considering the fact that you can click on any of the keywords visible, and the tool will display all mentions containing this particular keyword.
Since we’re talking about comparisons, Brand24 allows comparing projects to one another, so when you conduct a social media competitor analysis, you can either compare yourself to various brands or compare them against each other. Once again, I am going to stick with the airline example:
It’s obvious at the first glance there’s a huge difference in the volume of conversations for those two brands. This might be caused by spelling WizzAir correctly, as it’s sometimes written with, and sometimes without the spacing. I only used one of those spellings for the purpose of this blog post, but it still looks like Ryanair gets a lot more mentions both on social and outside social media.
When you scroll down the Comparison tab, you’ll find a detailed diagram representing the percentage of conversations taking place on each of the sources:
It’s instantly visible that the sentiment for both brands is significantly different. It’s almost fifty-fifty when it comes to Ryanair, and it looks much better for WizzAir. However, we have to take a huge difference in the number of mentions into consideration again.
What’s also interesting is the difference in percentage for the sources in questions. Twitter is where almost 75 per cent of conversation about Ryanair happen, whereas it’s at only 36 per cent for Wizzair.
In contrast, Instagram is the most prominent platform when it comes to the talks about the Hungarian airline, whereas it only constitutes 13,6 per cent of the whole in the case of Irish airline.
Such differences are a perfect representation of how conversations about different brands are spread across the platforms, and what are the social networks that some of the brands should invest more time in by engaging their customers and potential customers.
You’re missing out if you don’t keep tabs on your business rivals already.
Social media competitor analysis is not just about tracking their activity for the sake of it. It’s also about helping you push your business forward faster as it’s a quick way to learn from someone else’s mistakes before you make them yourself.
On top of that, you can also take a leaf out of their book of good practices. Create a free trial account and start monitoring your competitors today!