Looking beyond numbers when conducting a social media competitive analysis

Oct 01, 2012
Alexandra Barcelona

You’ve been running social media for your company for some time now and are tracking your results on a regular basis. You’ve seen how your numbers have changed month to month, but how are you stacking up with your competitors? While it’s important to keep track of your own social stats, it’s also important to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Here are a couple things to look at when conducting a social media competitive analysis.

It's about more than just total likes and followers
Yes, likes and followers are important to your overall social presence, but it’s important to look beyond the numbers, especially when looking at the competition. Take a look at the quality of the Likes/Followers rather than the quantity. One way to do this is to look at their Twitter followers, are most of them spam/bot accounts? If so, even if they have more than you in numbers, they may not have more than you in terms of quality.

How engaged are they?
Engagement is what social media is all about. How are your competitors engaging with their fans? Are they responding to @mentions on Twitter? Are they following up with their customers’ comments on their Facebook page? Do they reply to readers’ questions on their blog? These are just some ways that brands can engage with their customers and it’s important to see what your competitors are doing in terms of engagement with customers. If you think they’re doing a good job, take note of how they craft their messages (don’t copy verbatim, but see how you can utilize the same concept in your network). If you think they aren’t doing a good job engaging, come up with reasons why you think this and how you would address these issues on your profiles.

Where do you rank?
There are many resources available online for you to use to rank yourself with your competition. While most online rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt, it is always good to have an idea of overall trends. Social Mention is a free tool that allows you to track the strength, passion, reach and sentiment of your brand and your competitors. Marketing Grader is a free tool from HubSpot that helps rank the overall marketing efforts of your website via top of the tunnel, middle of the funnel, and website analytics. Tweet Grader, another free tool from HubSpot, grades your overall Twitter handle – it’s another great way to set benchmarks with your competition. Remember that the numbers themselves don’t matter as much as the overall trends of the marketplace.

Numbers aren’t the only thing that matters when conducting a competitive analysis. It’s also important to look at trends, engagement and overall social media use. Yes, this takes a lot more time and investigative work, but at the end of the day, you’ll have a much more useful and comprehensive overview of where you stand among your competition in the social media sphere.

What do you track when completing a competitive analysis? Let us know in the comments below.