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14 Jan 2014

Social Media Competitive Analysis

Many believe ‘going social’ means setting up a Facebook business page and posting content, hoping your target audience will happen across your profile. Unfortunately, most who follow this approach simply fail.

To succeed in social media, you need to bring a comprehensive, well-informed strategy, and the first step to any successful social media strategy is a competitive social media audit.

A social media audit of your own brand is, of course, important to help shape your first campaign. The biggest part of this involves psychographic research into your target audience. By creating specific profiles of the people you will be targeting, you will discern…

  • → The platforms you should be most active on
  • → What types of content you will create and curate
  • → When and how you will share that information
  • → Industry influencers that you should build relationships with

If you have not yet begun marketing on social media, you would use this information to inform decisions when crafting your strategy. If you have already established your social media profiles, compare this information to your current tactics and see how you can adjust and reevaluate to improve your performance.

However, your social strategy isn’t just driven by your own audience’s needs. Social media is an overcrowded, fast-paced environment, which makes it hard to be discovered and heard. By conducting thorough competitive research and a gap analysis, you can see what your competitors are doing, where they have fallen behind—and how you can get ahead.

Competitive Research Questionaire

Begin with identifying your brand’s top competitors (no more than 5-6), and what social media platforms they are on.  You’ll then conduct an in-depth social and content audit of their social profiles. You want to ask questions such as…

  • → Is their profile complete?
  • → Is there evidence of branding?
  • → Is branding consistent across all platforms?
  • → Do the images convey anything about their brand?
  • → Are the social profiles integrated with the website?

When it comes to content, look at each profile individual and see:

  • → What is the focus of their content?
  • → Do they share relevant topics or mostly brand-specific updates?
  • → What types of content are they sharing?
  • → Does their content target a specific audience?
  • → How often do they post?
  • → Is their content the same across all platforms, or unique to each?
  • → Is their content original or curated? Both?
  • → Do they cross-post regularly from their site blog?

For that matter…

  • → Do they have a blog?
  • → How often do they update?
  • → Do they use multi-media?
  • → Are the posts shared on all their social media accounts?
  • → Do they have an editorial calendar?

Once you have a solid grasp on their content, you need to gauge how it’s performing. You would of course check to see how many followers, fans, or subscribers they have—but be aware these numbers can be easily manipulated.

The best indicator of the success of content is engagement:

  • → How many likes, comments, or shares do they get per post?
  • → Do they get responses to questions or polls?
  • → Are comments positive or negative?
  • → What types of content get the most engagement?

You can see how the answers to these questions can easily give you the impression of not only what strategies work on social, but what strategies are most successful in your niche. A thorough competitive audit will give you a solid grasp on what your target audience is already responding to—which means half of the research has already been done for you.

You don’t need to start from scratch; you can already see what works, what doesn’t, and now you simply need to figure out the ways in which you can improve upon your competitors methods.

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Search engine marketing expert with 15 years of experience in the industry, working with small mom and pop shops as well as large corporate websites. I have experience with all aspects of inbound marketing, including SEO, Link Building, Social Shares, Usability, Conversions, PPC, Email Marketing, and more.