When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your social media strategy? If you had to pause to think about it, it’s probably time to assess your efforts again. A competitive analysis (or social media audit) can be time-consuming, but when done correctly it can provide invaluable insights to help you refine and improve your presence and prove why social media is worthy of your investment in time and budget.
So how do you get started? Hands-on research makes up the bulk of this process, so don’t be afraid to dig in, however, there are helpful tools that can lend a hand as well. In fact, third-party social listening tools can help to provide learnings on conversations surrounding your brand, including sentiment, use of any branded hashtags, and your share of voice compared to key peers.
Still not convinced you need to conduct a competitive analysis on social media? Here are a few of the reasons we (and our clients) think they’re worth your while.
1. It’s vital to analyze the health of your presence with goals in mind.
The most successful social media presence begins with clear goals and a cohesive, well-articulated strategy. And with the social media platforms and their algorithms changing seemingly daily, you can’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to your social strategy if you hope to see success.
Start by stepping back and taking an honest look at your own social media accounts, especially if you’re not already pulling monthly or quarterly performance reports. Digging into the post analytics provided by each platform is a great place to start your analysis, but qualitative insights will add greater depth to the story too.
Which posts are working? And just as important, which ones aren’t? Maybe certain post formats, content types, or topics are performing best with your audience and others need work. As you start to assess your efforts, look at things like…
- Your posting cadence – The social algorithms reward a regular posting cadence (think at least 3x a week for most platforms) but finding the right frequency for your audience and your bandwidth can be a balancing act. Too few posts each week may lead to the social media platforms not displaying your posts as often, reducing your reach, but too many posts may lead to your audience feeling overwhelmed, leading to unfollows.
- Your content strategy – The strongest presences will have a diverse content strategy. Consider the types of content (photos, videos, links) you’re sharing, and which content themes or subjects make up your mix.
- Your engagement levels – Likes, comments, shares, video views, link clicks, and more. All these interactions show people are paying attention to your posts instead of passively scrolling by.
All these things should be evaluated with your goals in mind. Remember, a strong engagement rate may be a sign your content is resonating with viewers, but which viewers? It’s important to consider what’s resonating and with who. After all, a “like” will only get you so far if the person interacting with your post cares more about the trending meme or hashtag than they do about your brand.
2. Auditing your competitors’ approach provides a snapshot of the social media landscape.
If you read that and thought “why should I look at competitors” you’re not alone. But do you know how your social presence stacks up to that of other brands in your industry? Choosing at least 3 competitors or peer organizations to audit as part of your competitive analysis can help you gain insights into each of their social media presences.
Which social channels are other brands using? Are they using paid social media to reach their target audience? What’s their messaging? Are their posts receiving a lot of those all-powerful engagements we mentioned earlier? Exploring their pages can help you find out.
You shouldn’t look to mimic their styles, content, or investment levels (after all, your followers are yours for a reason). Instead, as you analyze their presence keep your eyes open for any best practices, content themes, and positioning you may wish to incorporate into your work in a way that is unique to YOUR brand.
3. You can use the learnings to develop (or refine) your strategy.
Performing a social media audit is an important step when developing and refining your strategic approach. Should you join the latest and greatest social network to hit the scene? Should you invest in creating those all-powerful vertical videos or developing content for the latest trend or hashtag? Conducting a social media competitive analysis can help you answer these questions and more.
Even if you’re already seeing strong engagement and tracking towards your goals, there’s always room for improvement, learning, and fresh ideas. If you’re ready to take your social media channels to the next level then a competitive analysis may be just what you need to identify gaps in your strategy and opportunities for growth based on your overarching goals and objectives.
Kaitlyn is the Manager, Social Media at RDW and an all-weather beach enthusiast. When she’s not creating integrated social media strategies or launching campaigns, you can find her traveling and looking for the best local eats, hopefully at the same time.