Digital and Social Media Competitor Analysis: Don’t Ignore It!

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Does Digital and Social Media Competitor Analysis Really Matter?

Competitor analysis has, for a very long time, been an important part of traditional marketing and strategic management. And, for many organisations, it should also be an important part of digital and social media marketing and strategy.

This is because, by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors, businesses are able to form both informed defensive and offensive strategies. In short, know your enemy, know yourself – for its impossible to truly understand your company (and therefore what counts as a success or failure) in isolation. Competitor analysis gives you some much needed context.

So, yes, monitoring your competitors’ social media marketing activities matters, and getting an understanding of how well you’re performing relatively to those in your industry will allow you to:

  • Identify and improve on your own weaknesses.
  • See where you perform strongly, and apply this to other campaigns.
  • Ascertain good times to push certain products and campaigns (e.g., just as a competitor discontinues a similar offering).
  • Get inspired by outside marketing techniques and strategies.
  • And find new influencers and press contacts.

However, smaller companies, who already struggle to manage to keep up with posting interesting content and replying to social messages, may not benefit so much – and certainly won’t if social media competitor analysis takes precedent over managing an effective social strategy. But companies who already have their social media strategies down as well larger companies with more resources can use social media competitor analysis to achieve some very real benefits.

What to Look For

There are some aspects of your competitors’ digital and social media marketing campaigns that you can’t afford to ignore. These include:

  • Their PR contacts – Getting other people to write about you works. In fact, according to Forbes, word of mouth generates two times as many sales as paid advertising, and customers acquired through word of mouth have a 37 percent higher retention rate! Now, any journalists or bloggers who write about your competitors are likely to have an interest in your industry. This means that, should you contact them, there’s a good chance they will write about you, too. Using a tool such as Mention, you can set up alerts for all of your competitors’ names and see who’s covering them.
  • Their Content Strategy – Content marketing has more than proved its worth, with 76 percent of B2B marketers planning to create more content in 2016. However, this influx of content can result in social media users becoming quite picky. This means that, in order to be successful, your content will have to be significantly better than the rest. By looking at how your competitors are using content, you can get a good idea of what’s working and what isn’t. This information can then be used to inform your own content strategy.
  • Their Backlinks – Although less important than they once were, backlinks still have a significant impact on SEO. In fact, according to Managed Admin, 2 percent of all top ranking websites had at least one external backlink (most had considerably more), and 77.8 percent of them had at least one link pointing to the individual page. Of course, the more respectable your backlink, the more it will improve your ranking. Using a tool such as Raven, you will be able to find out who is linking to your competitors’ sites and what impact those links are having. This information can then be used to guide your own backlinking strategy.
  • Their Disgruntled Customers – Social media users are a vocal lot, and most have no qualms unloading their problems regarding a company online. Having a look at who is annoyed with your competitors and why will give you an opportunity to assess their social customer service strategy (their average response time, the tone of their responses, and the help they offer) as well as what problems they encounter frequently. All of this is invaluable information, and you will be able to learn a lot about what your own customers like and what they don’t (you may even be able to steal a few customers from them, as Steli Efti did!).

Competitor Benchmarking for Digital and Social Media Marketing

Some aspects of competitor analysis require a human touch. And the process isn’t particularly easy. For that reason, if you’re serious about undertaking some serious competitor analysis, you will need to be prepared to make both a financial and time investment.

However, tools exist (I’ve already mentioned some above) that are able to automate at least part of the process. Specifically, a competitor benchmarking tool allows you to keep tabs on your competitors’ activities in real time.

Whilst social media competitor benchmarking is still a relatively new industry, website and search benchmarking tools have existed for a little longer. If you’re interested in these, smartinsights.com have compiled a list of some of the best benchmarking tools (as well as written an in-depth article about some of the advantages of competitor benchmarking and benchmarking best practices).

In terms of social media, AgoraPulse, which was recently named one of the top social media management tools of 2015, offers a great competitor benchmarking tool for Facebook that lists your competitors’ number of fans, the amount of people talking about them, how often they post, how many interactions they get, and their engagement levels. This allows you to easily compare your page to those of your competitors in order to assess your own campaign, and is perfect for those with a focus on Facebook.

competitor-pages

For those who are interested in other networks, Quintly offers an incredibly comprehensive competitor analysis solution. The tool allows users to add pages and profiles before the tool imports all of the publically available data and presents it in a neat dashboard.

Social Media Analytics by quintly

Talkwalker also offer a comprehensive social media competitor benchmarking solution. The tool allows users to track the performance of Twitter, Facebook, and other social profiles as well as earned media on blogs, online news, forums, and social networks.

social media listening tool

Whichever tool you decide to use, remember: the tool can only generate data; in order for that data to be put to good use, it needs to be analysed and acted upon. Although competitor benchmarking tools do allow users to automate part of the competitor analysis process, some of the most important aspects still require human input and intelligent thought. So be prepared to put in the work!

Are you conducting digital and social media competitor analysis? If so, did the process help your business? If not, do you think you will in the future. Let me know with a comment! 

Guest Post from  https://www.lilachbullock.com

Matthew Marley

Matthew Marley is a Social Media & Search Specialist from Glasgow Scotland with a passion for the web and emerging technologies.

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