One of the best ways to improve your social media marketing strategy is to complete a competitor analysis. As a small to medium-sized business owner, this process will look different than it would for a large business or a corporation. There are two reasons for this.
First, a small business owner is likely doing all or most of the marketing themselves. Even a medium-sized business with a marketing professional on staff is going to struggle with doing the sort of competitor analysis that a corporation. This is because their focus is on all the company’s marketing, not just social media. So unless you have the funds to hire a full-time social media marketing specialist, you need to be able to do a competitor analysis that doesn’t take hours to complete.
Second, it is likely that your competition isn’t using social media as much as a large corporation is. Large companies often have a full-time social media marketing person on staff. This means their competition has a more robust presence to analyze. As a small business owner, you may find that most of your competitors aren’t even on social media, or if they are, they aren’t consistent. This makes it much harder to analyze what they are doing.
A lot of small businesses do not take this step before creating social media content. However, a competitor analysis provides crucial insights that will help you improve your social media marketing efforts. Interested in learning more? Here’s a step by step process that you can use to do a competitor analysis on your own.
Step One: Identify the Competitors You Want to Analyze
It’s recommended to identify three competitors to analyze to start. Choose two competitors that are direct competition, and then one larger company that is in your industry that you aspire to be like.
The smaller or more direct competitors may not be doing much on social media or other forms of digital marketing. This will make it very easy for you to analyze what they are doing, and what they are not doing without a lot of effort. This makes it easy to discover opportunities. It will also give you more confidence in your own marketing, instead of feeling like you aren’t doing enough.
We recommend that you look at a larger company as well because they are likely to be utilizing digital marketing more. Part of the reason a competitor analysis is useful is that it gives you content and marketing ideas and inspiration. As a small or medium-sized business owner, you may find that checking out these larger companies provides you with more sources of inspiration.
Step Two: Identify What Social Media Platforms Your Competitors Are Using
There are two ways to determine what platforms your competitors are using for their social media marketing. The first is to go to the competitor’s website. A lot of companies link their social media platforms somewhere on their websites. You can also type the company name in Google and the search engine will list the platform pages.
Step Three: Analyze How Your Competitors Are Using Each Social Media Platform
What sort of content is each competitor posting on each platform? Is it relevant to their business or promotional at all? If not, could there be a reason for why they are posting other types of content?
How often is each competitor posting on each platform? Are they posting on a consistent basis, or is it more sporadic?
In general, is their engagement high, or does it seem like they are posting into the void?
As you browse your competitor’s posts and take notes, make sure to keep notes on any posts that get your attention. This could be a post that gets a ton of engagement or something that makes you smile or react yourself. You can use these for inspiration later.
Step Four: Analyze Individual Posts
Pick one competitor from your list to analyze in-depth. Ideally, this is the competitor with the most engagement or the larger company that you want to emulate.
Take note of the number of followers they have. Then look at each post and note the number of likes, shares (retweets), and comments on each post as well as the type. Do this for each platform.
This will allow you to really dig into what your competitor is doing and what works. You can also determine whether they employ a different strategy for each platform or not.
Step Five: Perform a SWOT Analysis
Now that you have really looked at what your competitors are doing on social media, you can do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, strengths) analysis. Think about what your competitors are doing well that you can draw inspiration from. Review what opportunities they are missing out on.
For example, if you are a B2B company and you realize none of your competitors are using LinkedIn at all, this is a huge opportunity for you.
If you are a small retail craft business and your competitors aren’t on Pinterest? Also a great opportunity.
Bonus Step: Review Over Time
Reviewing what a competitor is doing every few months and tracking their metrics over time will allow you to really see what works for them. If you stick to a consistent schedule and complete the steps above every month or two, you will learn tricks and techniques that are industry-specific. These tricks will grow your social media audience and engagement steadily over time.
When combined with regular social media audits, clearly defined goals, and a buyer persona, a competitor analysis will help you to create a social media content calendar that will drive your company goals month after month.