How To Spy on Your Competition With Social Media

There are various solutions for analyzing your competitors, but these five steps will help you use a social listening tool to the best of your ability.

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By Aleh Barysevich • Dec 22, 2022

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Competitive analysis is an analysis of who your potential competitors are, what marketing activities they do and what results their campaigns get. It is a crucial part of the groundwork done by every business hoping to stand out and sell well.

When doing detailed social media competitor analysis, people usually start with the number of followers, content assessment and the level of engagement. After this, they should go deeper into the social listening stats.

With social media competitive analysis tools, you can reveal:

  • Competitors' online visibility and brand recognition 
  • Real-user feedback on products and services
  • Customer insights
  • Influencers and mass media

This is a simplified version of a multi-layer process. Knowing your competition lets you perfect your unique value proposition, develop best-selling products, improve your marketing strategy and identify new market segments when done right.

When done via social listening, competitor analysis is not only doable but also worth doing, even if you're going for it on top of your daily tasks. 

Let's walk through competitor analysis with the help of a social media competitive analysis tool, one step at a time.

Related: 3 Reasons Why I Gladly Welcome Competition

Step 1: Pick competitors and start monitoring

While this might seem self-evident, picking the right competitors to benchmark yourself against is a task of its own. If you're thinking big and want to conduct comprehensive market research, you need every name of the competitive brand on the list. Big and small, well-established and new to your industry. 

For more customizable competitive analysis, you'll need direct competitors only, preferably a company list of comparable size.  As soon as you are ready with the lineup, jump to a tool. We need to set up mentions in a monitoring tool to start tracking. You'll need to put in your brand name as well as your competitor brand names; you can use Awario for it or try other similar tools.

When you set up your alerts, give the tool some time, and it'll pick up recent mentions as well as some historical data — this way you'll be able to do an initial analysis. The more information you have, the more thorough your competitor analysis will be.

Related: Five Reasons Small Organisations Should Invest in Social Listening

Step 2: Go through basic social listening stats

Once the tool has collected data, you can visit the dashboard and look at the analytics.

Mentions and reach

The mentions and reach metrics will show you how much weight each of your competitors' accounts has on social media platforms. The buzz a name generates corresponds to brand recognition and overall visibility.

In social listening terms, measuring share of voice — the number of times a brand is mentioned on the web and in social media posts vs. the number of times competitor brands are mentioned — is the closest to measuring market share. 

Countries and languages

The countries and languages sections will give you an idea of the geographical distribution of mentions. Depending on the markets you operate in, you can check specific locations to see if any market segments are overlooked and underserved by business competitors. You can see how the competition spreads and analyze what that means.

Age and gender

These sections show who mentions your brand most and reveal the age of people that post messages on the web about your company. It helps you to meet your target audience.

Sources

Next is sources —the distribution of the buzz among social networks and the web. This is an important metric that shows where the mentions come from, platform by platform. More often than not, there are unexpected insights into how well content competitors create, how their advertising is performing across social networks, and how much buzz is coming from the web and news. 

Related: Don't Use The Same SEO Playbook As Your Competitors. Use These 3 SEO Tactics Instead.

Step 3: Dive into mentions

The mentions feed is the storage of all the mentions collected by the tool.

Here, you can access raw data and filter it in the way that serves you best. Say you noticed a spike in mentions of your competitor, and you know that most of them appeared on Twitter. Therefore, you want to do Twitter analytics and pull the influencers who have talked about the brand in the last month. Go ahead and apply the filters.

Meet the influencers

Influencers are the biggest drivers of brand visibility. When applied wisely in social media management, influencer marketing is an effective and often free tool used to generate engagement and build that genuine brand-to-customer connection other forms of marketing may fail at.

Exploring influencers working with your competitors is made easy with competitive analysis tools. First, you can filter mentions by reach to find the most influential people who've talked about competitor brands. This way, you discover significant and minor influencers as you go through the mentions sorted by Reach. 

Related: Influencer Marketing 101: A Blueprint for Running a Successful Campaign

Step 4: Explore social listening reports 

It's a shortcut to the insights social media competitor analysis tools uncovered. For a marketer, reports offer an overview of all the metrics discussed in this guide. With them, you can measure competitive performance on social media in detail.

Compare brands and get back-to-back performance reviews by:

  1. Share of voice
  2. Counties and languages
  3. Sentiment
  4. Topic Cloud
  5. Top mentions
  6. Age and gender
  7. Influencers
  8. Sources

Step 5: Sit back and feel proud of the work well done!

Good job! We've come a long 5-step way, having reviewed primary social listening stats and analytics.

You can try various solutions for analyzing your competitors. The metrics I mentioned are available in most of them. Some social media competitive analysis tools provide integrations with other marketing apps like scheduling posts or template-creating ones.

Please use this guide as a roadmap for future social media competitive analysis. Remember: the longer you track mentions, the more insightful and comprehensive your analysis gets. 

Aleh Barysevich

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder at Awario and SEO PowerSuite

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at the companies behind SEO PowerSuite, professional software for full-cycle SEO campaigns, and Awario, a social media, and web monitoring tool. He is a seasoned SEO expert and speaker at major industry conferences.

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