It’s easy to research your competitors when creating your buyer personas and then forget they exist for a while, but the information and inspiration competitors provide us with can be very valuable.
Without stealing their ideas and work, observing competitors online can help you improve your entire business strategy, but today, we’re going to focus on social media.
If you find yourself asking, “How can I improve my social media strategy?” here are some reasons your competitors’ social media channels are the first place you should look to make improvements.
Learn Your Industry’s Audience
Social media marketing, at its core, is really about understanding your audience and knowing how your industry fits in on each social channel. Studying the following elements of your competitors’ social media profiles can help you learn more about your audience and industry’s place in social media, and improve your overall strategy.
Timing and Frequency
There is more to social media marketing than just posting whatever you want whenever you want to. The timing and frequency of your posts is very important. Of course there are times statistically proven to be better for each platform, but these can vary with different industries. Studying your competitors’ posting frequency, and the times of their most engaged-with posts can tell you more about audiences in your industry and what times they are most active online.
Balance in your social media strategy is very important, and too much promotional material can be a bad thing. (Remember that 80/20 rule?) Take the time to see what your competitors are doing in terms of promotional materials. What products and services are getting the highest engagement? Which platforms are they on? What time were they posted? All of this information can help you determine what’s best for your audience and in turn, your strategy.
The impact of a post can all come down to the language you use. Pay attention to the types of posts your competitors are posting and on which social channels. Are they cracking jokes? Using basic promotional calls to action? Which ones seem to be getting more engagement? These findings can, once again, help you better understand your audience and industry, and optimize your content accordingly.
In today’s online climate, it’s nearly impossible to have a social media strategy that doesn’t involve “paying to play” in some form. So if you’re going to spend all of that money, you want to make sure you’re making all of the right choices for your ad. Like I mentioned above, it’s important take note of the language competitors use in their ads, and the CTAs they choose, but there are many other elements in paid ads on different social channels to consider.
Pay attention to what kinds of ads your competition publishes, which channels they choose to publish them on, and which are engaged with the most. Although you’re not able to fully track how successful a competitor's ads are through link or CTA clicks, the amount of engagement, such as likes, comments, and shares an ad receives can give you an idea of which ads reached and resonated with more people.
General Business Benefits
Not only can looking at competitors’ social channels offer you insight on your own social media strategy, but taking the time to learn their processes related to the following can also benefit your overall marketing and business strategy.
Online Customer Service
Over time, social media has become a way for businesses to interact directly with their customers. Whether there is an issue with a product or service you’re attempting to solve, or you’re just finding new ways to engage with your audience, there is an immediacy in social media communication like no other. So, competitors in similar industries can teach you a lot about how to handle situations and engage with your audience, or not.
In most promotional posts, like those showcasing products and services, or any kind of content promoting the benefits of choosing your company, you will find a company linking back to their site in some way. Where are they placing the link in their post? Is it after product or service descriptions? Pay attention to how your competitors are doing this, and which promotional posts are getting the highest engagement and interaction. This can help you determine how best to link back in your posts!
It’s always beneficial to have information about your customers and prospective customers regarding their age, location, interests, and more. It can help you set target audiences for ads and more. Some companies use social media to gather this information. Your competitors may be doing this by conducting polls or surveys, or asking questions to find out more about their audience. If you’re able to, pay attention to which methods are working best for their audience.
Search Engine Ranking
If your industry is rather large, you will probably want to start by observing competitors who rank highest in search engines. Take a look at their social media and how they’re doing all of the things mentioned above. This should help you optimize your social media to target your audience in the best way possible!
Have you looked at your competitors’ social media profiles in order to inform your own strategy? Have you learned anything from them? Let us know in the comments!