You may not like your competitors but they can be extremely useful to you — especially on social media. Right now, brands are battling it out for eyeballs and attention spans like never before, while ad limitations and guidelines continue to get tighter. Winging it just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
But instead of exhausting all your options of how to best reach your customers with dollars and time, you can let your competitors take a little of that effort off your shoulders. I mean, who doesn’t love learning from someone else’s mistakes?
That being said, they’re probably doing a few things successfully (and better than you) too. So it’s time to leverage the power of Competitor Research to boost your own social media marketing strategy. Here’s how.
What is Competitor Research?
We cover this topic in depth right here. But as a quick refresher, Competitor Research is the constant monitoring, tracking, and analysis of the competitor’s marketing efforts — in this case, their social media activity — to develop winning marketing strategies.
The process can give you tons of quantitative and qualitative data to support your own social media marketing decisions like what’s popular in your industry, what areas you may need to improve, and what your audience really cares about.
How to Use Social Media Competitor Research to Get an Edge
Identify the Platforms They’re Using that You’re Not
If your audience is hanging out on certain platforms with your competitors and you’re nowhere to be found, you’re not even on the same field. Without a consistent presence on these channels, there’s a whole group of potential customers that aren’t seeing what you have to offer — but would most likely want to! But you don’t have to be on every platform. In fact, you’ll be a lot less effective if you are and the quality is suffering because of it. So understanding where your customers are based on where your competition is will help you focus on the right platforms to strengthen your strategy.
Try and Fill your Competitor’s Gaps
The same practice from #1 is also a great approach for taking advantage of the type of content and media that’s successful for your competitors. Once you uncover where they’re posting, you want to identify the “gaps” in the content your competitors are sharing that you aren’t. Blogs, videos, live streams, infographics — and just as important, topics!
By filling in these gaps with your own unique content, you can prevent them from dominating these resources for your customers. And by taking note of what’s really driving engagement or starting conversations on their timelines, you can better understand your customer expectations and save yourself some of the costly trial and error on your own.
Learn From How They Interact
It’s called social media for a reason. A successful strategy is driven by how you interact with your followers. If your customers are positively reacting to engagement type content like polls or opinion questions, then take note. But also look at what your competitors do next.
Are they responding to comments? What’s their tone when speaking to followers? Do they reply to good and bad reviews? How do the followers respond in return? Study the online customer experience on their pages and see what works or what they’re missing. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer visiting their page and just think about what you like or don’t like about how they manage it. It also never hurts to make sure your average message response time is better than theirs.
Create Similar Content — but Better
There’s a lot of content out there, but frankly, a lot of it isn’t good. When you can create awesome content, that is a huge step up for your brand. Some of your competitors are already doing it, and it’s not only making them more appealing to Google’s algorithm, but it’s also really useful to your potential customers. If they feel a company is helping them get the answers they need, they’ll keep coming back.
So while you don’t want to be a copycat, you can figure out what’s working and how you can make it better. Research can help you bring something new to the conversation and position it in a unique way. Maybe the blog content your competitors share on your platforms would be more helpful and appealing in a video series. A different perspective is a great way to steal your audience’s attention.
Take Over the Conversation
Every business has their unique differentiators, but it doesn’t necessarily make any business the best option. However, if your customers are only hearing one side of the story, then it’ll sure seem like it.
If you have a competitor whose biggest selling point is their affordable products, you’ll likely see this message all over their social media. But maybe those great prices come with hidden service fees. A great way to take over the conversation is having a counter-message. Maybe it’s promising transparency in pricing. Or maybe it’s something totally unrelated — if your company’s customer experience can’t be beat, then that becomes your talking point. Never let your competitors have the only say.
Competitor Research can help you get a major edge on social media. If you want to learn more about this process or discuss how shyft can help you create a kick butt social strategy, contact shyft today.