Competition Check

Cheryl Lawson

“If you make the opportunity, you’ll be the first in the position to take advantage of it.”

– Biz Stone Co-Founder of Twitter

let’s dive into the realm of social media competitive analysis. As a business, you’ve got competition, those pesky folks selling similar products or services as you, targeting the same crowd. With e-commerce, these competitors aren’t just on the next block, they could be across the globe.

The web has removed geographical barriers, exposing your business to a worldwide wrestling ring. Your competition isn’t just the store down the street; it’s also that trendy online shop based halfway around the globe. And believe me, their Instagram ads can be pretty slick.

Ignoring what your competitors are doing on social media? Not an option. It’s about learning their tactics, their successes, their failures. It’s about staying one step ahead. But this isn’t about being creepy, spying, or doing anything sketchy. It’s just good business sense.

Your competition could be publicly listed companies whose financial reports are easily accessible. You get a peek at their financial health, and you know what you’re up against. It’s not always a David vs Goliath scenario; often, the smaller, more innovative companies outperform their larger competitors.

When we chat about competition, it’s not always a bad thing. It keeps you on your toes, pushing you to improve your product, your customer service. Plus, you get to learn from those who’ve been around the block.

So, who are these competitors? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Direct Competition: These are your most obvious competitors. If you’re selling pizzas, it’s the other pizza joints. Picture the Pepsi-Coca-Cola rivalry.
  • Indirect Competition: These are a bit sneakier. If you have a toy shop downtown, your indirect competition might be that online toy store who’s also targeting your city’s kiddos.
  • Replacement Competition: This one’s tricky. It’s about the alternatives, the substitutes. The folks who sell something different, but it can still replace what you’re offering. Like Kindle becoming the replacement for traditional books.

The soft drink industry has been dominated by two cola giants for decades – Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Their fierce rivalry has fueled some of the most memorable marketing campaigns, and among them, none is more iconic than the “Pepsi Challenge.” This bold initiative, launched by Pepsi in the mid-1970s, invited consumers to participate in a blind taste test to determine which cola they preferred. The results became a pivotal moment in advertising history and sparked an ongoing debate about brand loyalty and consumer behavior. In the video, “Marketing Experts Break Down the Coke vs. Pepsi Rivalry” by Vanity Fair, experts delve into the dynamics of this legendary rivalry, revealing key insights and strategies that continue to shape the world of marketing today. Buckle up, as we take you through a rollercoaster ride of one of the most heated battles in the business landscape.



Why Perform Competitor Analysis

Why should you bother to perform a social media competitor analysis for your strategy?

First and foremost, understanding your competition gives you an understanding of your customers. It’s easy for businesses to get tunnel vision, focusing on their strengths while forgetting to take a look around at what’s happening in the marketplace. Competitive analysis, especially on social media, gives you a fresh set of eyes and a clearer perspective on what your customers want and need.

Secondly, it helps you identify potential threats. Keeping tabs on your competitors’ social media activities gives you a heads-up on potential threats lurking around the corner. Whether it’s a new market entrant or a disruptive technology, a thorough analysis of your competitors’ social media activities will alert you well in advance.

Thirdly, it allows you to set relevant benchmarks. Businesses often set performance standards or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), but without a solid understanding of the competitive landscape, these benchmarks may be out of step with the market realities. Monitoring your competitors on social media helps ensure your benchmarks are in line with industry standards.

Moreover, a social media competitor analysis is a fantastic tool for recognizing market gaps. Even in a crowded market, there’s always a blind spot your competition is missing. Through a careful study of your competitors’ social media activities, you could discover an untapped niche or a customer group that’s been overlooked.

For instance, say you’re in the furniture business. You might find that none of your competitors are targeting the millennial market on social media. There’s your gap. You can then develop a social media strategy to engage millennials with modern furniture designs and grow your customer base.

A deep dive into your competitors’ social media might uncover some struggling businesses. Here’s where potential opportunities for acquisitions or mergers could come up. By merging with or acquiring these businesses, you could expand your operation, improve your product quality, and tap into their distribution network to reach new markets.

In conclusion, a social media competitor analysis isn’t just a “nice-to-have” for your social media strategy; it’s a vital tool that can steer your business in the right direction, help you stay ahead of the curve, and ultimately, succeed in the marketplace.

How to Perform a Social Media Competitive Analysis

The article from Hootsuite outlines a step-by-step process for conducting a social media competitive analysis, which is a critical tool for any business wanting to excel in the online space. Here’s a summary of the key points:

  1. Identify Your Competitors: Start by listing out who your competitors are. These could be businesses that offer similar products or services, operate in the same geographical area, or target the same audience demographic. You can use social listening tools or conduct a simple Google search to identify these competitors.
  2. Choose Which Social Networks to Analyze: Your competitors may not be active on all social networks, and neither should you. Prioritize the platforms where your target audience is most active. You could use a social media demographics guide to help identify these platforms.
  3. Analyze Your Competitors’ Social Media Presence: Look at your competitors’ overall presence on each platform. How many followers do they have? How frequently do they post? What’s their brand voice and personality?
  4. Evaluate Your Competitors’ Content: Study the types of content your competitors share. What gets the most likes, shares, or comments? Is it videos, images, infographics, or user-generated content? Use this information to inform your own content strategy.
  5. Measure Your Competitors’ Engagement: Look at how your competitors interact with their audience. How do they respond to comments or complaints? Do they use any specific hashtags? Do they run contests or giveaways?
  6. Track Your Competitors’ Posting Frequency: How often are your competitors posting? This can help inform your own posting strategy.
  7. Analyze Your Competitors’ Audience: This involves studying the demographic details of your competitors’ followers. What’s their age, gender, location, and interests?
  8. Use Tools for Social Media Competitive Analysis: There are various tools available that can help streamline this process, such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or BuzzSumo.
  9. Document Your Findings: As you gather all of this information, document it in a way that allows you to make direct comparisons between your social media performance and that of your competitors.
  10. Make Strategic Decisions: Finally, use all this information to make strategic decisions about your own social media strategy. Maybe you need to post more frequently, diversify your content, or engage more with your audience. Whatever it is, a competitive analysis will help you spot the areas where you can improve.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a useful tool for evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to your business – or in this context, your social media marketing strategy. Here’s how it applies to social media:

Strengths: These are the things your business does well on social media. Maybe you have a highly engaged community, your video content receives massive views, or your customer service via direct messaging is top-notch. This could also include factors like having a well-defined brand voice that resonates with your audience, or having influencers or brand advocates who regularly share your content.

Weaknesses: These are the areas where your social media marketing could use some improvement. Perhaps your post frequency is inconsistent, your engagement rate is low, or your content isn’t resonating well with your audience. Or maybe your response time to customer queries is too long. Identifying these weak points can help you devise strategies to improve them.

Opportunities: Opportunities are external factors in your business environment that could provide a boost to your social media presence. Maybe there’s an emerging social media platform where your competitors are not yet active, or a trending topic that aligns with your brand which you can capitalize on. Perhaps there are industry events, holidays, or popular hashtags related to your business that you could leverage for increased visibility.

Threats: Threats are external factors that could potentially harm your social media presence. This could be anything from changes in social media algorithms that decrease your organic reach, to negative reviews or public relations crises that emerge online. Also, it could be potential actions of your competitors – if they’re planning to launch a big social media campaign, for example, it could overshadow your own efforts.

Conducting a SWOT analysis in the context of a social media competitive analysis involves not just looking at your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but also those of your competitors. This can give you a clearer picture of where you stand in the social media landscape and help you identify ways to improve your performance and gain a competitive edge.

Remember, the goal isn’t to copy your competitors, but to understand what they’re doing well and identify areas where you can differentiate yourself.

Social Media Competitive Analysis Template

Click on the image above to open the template or click below to download the excel spreadsheet.

 Exploring Meta Ad Library

The Meta Ad Library is a treasure trove of information about the strategies your competitors are using to reach their target audience. Here’s an exercise to get you familiar with it. We’ll be doing three searches for your competitor or a brand you are familiar with. Here’s how to do it:

Search for a Competitor: Go to the Meta Ad Library and type in the name of your competitor or a brand that you’re interested in. Browse through the ads that are currently active. What kinds of messages are they promoting? What is their call to action? How does their ad design reflect their brand identity?



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Intro to Social Media Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Lawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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