Social media competitor analysis and everything you need to know about it

Kuba Rogalski
April 7, 2020 ・ 9 min read

Why is social media competitor analysis important? Should you conduct social media competitor analysis regularly? Or is it just a waste of time and resources? Social media competitive analysis will bring valuable insights into your marketing strategy.

Competitor analysis will help you put your own data in the right context. You will know whether your company is killing it or there is still some room for improvement.

There are small and medium businesses that have to face fierce competition. 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.

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.

How to do social media competitor analysis?

Social media competitor analysis doesn’t have to be complicated, provided you know what you’re looking for. When it comes to social media metrics, you should focus on data that will provide the most actionable insights for your business.

There are a lot of vanity metrics. These social media metrics will look good on paper, but won’t bring any substantial value to your competitive analysis.

How to perform a social media competitive analysis then?

To do it thoroughly, follow these steps:

  • 1. List your competitors
  • 3. Analyse gathered information
  • 4. Put the insights into action
  • Once you break the social media competitive analysis into steps, it doesn’t look so hard, does it?

    1. List your competitors

    The first thing you have to do, is to find your main competitors on social media and identify the channels they use.

    It’s not enough to make a list of all your competitors and check their social media accounts from time to time.

    If you want to gain knowledge from the social media competitor analysis, you should examine their social media activity, engagement levels, and hashtag performance.

    Carefully examining the social media accounts of your competitors can be a tedious task, especially if your competitors are active on social media.

    That’s where social media monitoring comes in handy!

    A social media monitoring tool, Brand24, will collect all publicly available mentions containing your predefined keywords.

    I wholeheartedly recommend Brand24 not only because I work here, but also because it offers monitoring of almost all social media platforms, including:

    • public mentions from Facebook fanpages
    • public mentions from Instagram containing a specified hashtag
    • mentions from Twitter
    • mentions from YouTube
    • hashtags from TikTok
    • mentions from Twitch

    Monitor your competitors! Brand24 offers a 14-day free trial, no credit card required!

    As you can see, we got you covered on almost every social media platform possible!

    Once you set up a free trial, the tool will start gathering all publicly available mentions from the Internet.

    I’d recommend creating a separate project for each of them.

    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.

    2. Collect necessary data

    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.

    For social media competitive analysis you will need a bunch of data, including:

    • how often they post online
    • the social media reach of their posts
    • the sentiment around their posts
    • top social media profiles talking about their brands, products or services
    • the total number and type of interactions.

    A media monitoring tool will help you gather qualitative data as well. This type of data will give you the context needed for social media competitive analysis.

    Collecting the mentions and analysing them will give you actionable insights that will help boost your social media game.

    3. Analyse gathered information

    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.

    Social media interactions graph you can use for social media competitor analysis

    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:

    Daily social media interactions graph you can use for social media competitor analysis

    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:

    A result of using interactions filter in the Brand24 dashboard for social media competitor analysis

    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:

    An example of negative sentiment in social media competitor analysis

    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.

    Monitor 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.

    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.

    An excellent example of proactive social media monitoring

    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!

    Explore the context of discussion

    The context of a discussion is a very informative addition to the social media competitor analysis.

    An example of a word cloud you could use for social media competitor analysis

    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.

    An example of a word cloud used for social media competitor analysis

    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.

    A comparison of social media results between Ryanair and WizzAir

    4. Put the social media competitor analysis insights into action

    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.

    Social media competitor analysis results for Ryanair

    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:

    Social media competitor analysis results for WizzAir

    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.

    Is social media competitor analysis important?

    Hopefully, I’ve already proven that social media competitor analysis is crucial for your business.

    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!


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