How to Use Social Media to Study Your Competitors


For most of us, social media is a common ground to get in touch with people, share something that sprouts our interests or a place simply just to share our thoughts.

Each of us, and that goes without saying, has an account or are connected to numerous social networks.

Here’s a little secret though, social media also serves as a gateway for you to analyse and possibly gain an upper hand on competition in your industry.

Having an idea of what works for the competition gives you an opportunity to improve your own social media marketing.

Social media levels the floor for any business you can think of, you have the power to find out why other brands might be doing so well.

Using social media, you can learn about your competitors’ newest product releases, their customers’ grievances, and see which parts of their content strategy work and which ones don’t.

Facebook, Twitter, even Tumblr are not merely just places you visit for past the time.

If you’re not familiar with using social media to get a grip on your competition, here are some ways to start learning:

Analyze Your Competitor’s Content Share Rates

Every industry has those people who are actively sharing great content.

Because of this calculation of your competitors’ weaknesses is easier than ever on a social web. What this information reveals to win on the web has become more crucial than ever.

Identify opportunities to serve newly acquired and prospective customers.

Knowing their content share rates you can determine the size of the market, identify areas for self-improvement where competition is lacking at the moment, find the tried and tested ways to cater the target market, conclude if your marketing and promotions strategies are effective or not.

Remember knowing where you stand at the moment is very important.

With that being said, you can go deeper and use what you learned to enhance your own marketing like:

  1. Share the top content on your own social profiles. Sharing relevant and high-quality content will help you gain extra followers, friends and likes and, at the same time, keep your accounts active.
  2. Produce similar content. Don’t just copy the popular content you find, but look for ways to produce better content for the same topics. Share your unique view on the subject with your audience.
  3. Be active and engage with people on the social networks where your competitors are very popular. If your competitors have an impressive share ratio on, let’s say, Instagram, this should be a clue that your potential customers are on Instagram too. Don’t ignore the platforms where your competitors are gaining the most shares, likes or followers.

Measure Responsiveness Against Market Leaders

Social media moves fast and your target market not only expects you to keep up with them but to exceed their expectations. Studies show that 47% of consumers expect a response to an online request within an hour.

How you compare to the standards set by other brands in your industry can play a key role in keeping your current market and growing your business.

By analysing and understanding how your brand ranks within your industry, you can help set goals for your social media engagement.

Understanding how your reach stacks up to competitors will help to evaluate both the sizes of your individual social networks as well as social footprints.

Rather than delivering fan and follower data to management, you can report reach and trends in the context of your market.

You can also use this data to evaluate the tactics the competition uses to expand their reach and decide if any should be incorporated into your own strategies.

Measure Your Own “Share of Voice”

Not only is it important to understand how many people you are conversing with, but you should also evaluate how big your slice of the conversation is compared to your competitors.

By looking at the competition you can evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies in comparison to yours.

Every industry has its own varied and game-changer content.

The key here is to stay ahead of the curve and continue to monitor what works best for your industry on each social channel.

By going beyond the typical analysis of the competition you can optimize your brand to reach that top praised level.

Remember as brands constantly work to improve their content, valuable data can be gathered just by monitoring how your own brand’s content performs.

Pay Closer Attention to Keyword Monitoring

If your business engages in Content Marketing to increase awareness of the brand, it’s likely that your copywriters and editors are concerned with ranking keywords in search engines.

Higher rankings in Google mean better online exposure at lower or no cost, which is good news for your budget.

However, your competitors are also likely to be thinking the same exact thing, so it’s important to stay informed on your content’s relative position in the ranks.

Keyword monitoring helps you search for the best-performing content associated with a selected keyword, and monitor your brand’s position in keyword ranks.

Stay on the lookout for keywords that are relevant to your industry.

Try not to be too ambitious with your choices, so determine brands who are likely to go after the same words and watch the content these selected brands publish with particular attention.

Dissect what your rivals are targeting and why. Look for those hidden keyword prioritization patterns and compare them with yours.

Take Note of Backlink Monitoring

Another factor that affects you and your competitor is the total number of backlinks or links to your content from other sources.

Similar to word-of-mouth, this is an important way of spreading content that presents value.

Always take note that the more aggressive the source of your backlinks, the higher the chances of Google treating the shared piece of content as important.

Try to monitor sources of your competitors’ backlinks in order to stay in the know about the lure of their business versus yours.

Pay attention to potential link-building opportunities.

Some domains link to the competitor’s site out of partnership; which serves as another step-up for building a bigger market.

Watch for backlink sources with high domain authority or social media influence, and see if they can be a valuable networking partner for your brand.

We recommend Ahrefs for link monitoring.

RSS Feeds and Search Engine

In addition to monitoring your competition’s content for backlinks and keywords, you may also want to know what they actually talk about. If other businesses in your field have content marketing platforms, you should make time to read what they have to say.

The easiest way to get this content delivered to you on a regular basis is by setting up RSS feeds.

Take note of blog posts on any topics your content marketing team often writes about, so you can compare the level of expertise offered by your team versus your competitors’.

Another healthy reminder is that your search engine is your best friend.

With it, you can find users interacting with the competitor brands, missed opportunities to address an issue or answer a question.

They provide you with a chance to show off your products or services as a good alternative.

We’re not suggesting that you should start copying your competitors.

You’ll just be doing extensive learning from your competitors’ activity, as well from your own.

The way their content is executed across the social media spectrum is an indication of how your content should perform.

You can take advantage of some of the elements they use in their strategy, and of course, find ways to always improve.

The Bottom Line

Remember, it’s important to take the attitude that your competition is analysing your business and taking ideas from your hard work and that the tables need to be balanced.

Make sure you are constantly improving your strategy by studying your data and correlating it to your competitors’ data.

Always learn from your findings and gain valuable insights into your performance to allow you to constantly improve with time.

Researching your competitors’ social media efforts is ethical and at the same time powerful.

It has become hard to survive heavy competition. Even if your rivals are targeting different markets than you.

All these strategies are to help teach your brand something. Still, you shouldn’t be obsessive about your competition. That’s unproductive. But, you should be aware of their actions, their successes and failures.

The more you know about your niche, the better you will be at your marketing strategies.

About the author

Alex Thomas

I've been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years and have worked with global and local companies on large scale SEO and PR campaigns. In my current role at Breakline, I'm responsible for winning new business, creating, implementing and overseeing SEO campaigns, social communications, online and offline media relations.

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By Alex Thomas