Even though collaboration has become a hot topic nowadays, competition still is one of the major factors that define the way we do business. We keep both eyes on what similar companies are doing to attract customers and hope to do better than that.
But when we start talking about digital marketing, it can be kind of overwhelming trying to find out what our competitors are up to. There are so many tools, social media networks, websites, and apps available that has become a full-time job track what is going on and what is actually bring any results.
If you feel like this, trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t follow what your competitor’s social media activities
Why You Should Analyse Them
The first thing that you will need to have clear in your mind is why you should analyse the social activities of your competitors in the first place. You probably have enough to do just by literally minding your own business, imagine if you start checking out what others are doing as well.
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So, if you are looking for a proper reason to allocate human and financial resources on it, here are some for you to choose from:
You will learn more about their business
When you start having a look at what your competitors are doing on social media, you will be able to learn more about their business. You will gather crucial information about their products or services; their marketing strategy, from pricing to promotion; and about their values and goals.
And that you will have to do to achieve it is to analyse the way they choose their social media networks, which kind of budget they are spending on it, and what they are prioritising. And many of these answers will easily come to your mind by comparing your own social media marketing strategies to them.
You will learn about success and failure
It is very likely that your clients are making exactly what everybody is making when it comes to digital marketing: several trial and error attempts. And the good thing (for you, in this case) is that the internet never forgets. Even if they discontinue a campaign or if they delete the material involved in it, there are big chances that you will find comments about it on their social media networks.
That is to say that you will learn a lot about their successes and failures through their online activities. Of course, you shouldn’t be taking your chances, so the suggestion here is that you monitor your competitors on a regular basis. It might mean some money and time, but it will also save you the same (or more) in return when you realise that the idea you were about to invest your saving plan for social media in have been tried before and didn’t bring any great results to your competitor.
You will find ways to flank them
Sometimes, the most valuable information that you will get from your competitors when you start analysing their social media activities is the one they aren’t willing to share. As almost everything is public in those virtual places and also happens very fast, you might get to know a thing or two before they even realise them.
A customer can give away a confidential information when you least expect, for instance, or point out something that they would be happier not seeing being told to the world. But this is the worst case scenario, of course. On a daily basis, just by analysing their online profiles and pages, you will notice things that you competitors should have improved (by they haven’t), so you can be one step of ahead of them and get your product or service ready to fight for a bigger market share.
Remember: their customers are your customers
If nothing that has been said above was enough to convince you yet, maybe you should remind yourself that their customers are your customers as well. If you are competitors, it means that you are in the same industry and that your potential clients out there will have to decide between you and them during their buying process.
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That is to say that the comments and questions that your competitor’s clients are leaving on their Facebook page or Twitter profile could have been addressed to you as well. And analysing their social media networks will give you the opportunity to get free data about your customers’ preferences and complaints without having to go through the hassle of dealing with the customer service activities. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
What You Can Do
Now that you know why you are going to analyse the social activities of your competitors, let’s find out how you will do it. There are several ways to track their networks but here are the three essential things that you should do from now on:
Follow Them / Like Them
The most obvious thing that you will have to do is to follow or like their pages or profiles. This way, you will have access to the content that they are making available straight on your own timeline. If there is no real problem (as in Wild West kind of problem) between you and them, it shouldn’t be a problem to do so – and they will probably do the same back if they haven’t yet.
So go ahead and check which social media networks they have available at the moment and join them. The links are probably all displayed on their website. Then set aside some time to check their content marketing strategies and write down anything that you might find interesting during your research.
Sign Up for Their Newsletter
Another thing that you should do is sign up to your competitor’s newsletter. It will give you access to brand new information, something that they want to share only with their most loyal clients, or with their newest target audience.
Here again, you should take your time to analyse what is being said, but also the way they are doing it: the time you got it in your inbox, format, background, colours, fonts, images, e-mail provider, subject line, etc. All these topics are crucial information to your own social media strategy.
Use Google Alerts
Google Alerts still are a great way to track what your competitors are doing. And the best thing about it is that it is a free and easy to use tool that works just fine.
All that you have to do is pick your topic, which can be a word or a sentence (in your case, your competitor’s name, brand, or products/services), and choose from a few options: how often you want to get your answers; which sources, language, and region(country) you want to monitor; how many results you want to receive per day; and if you want it delivered to your e-mail or RSS Feed.
Every day from that, you will get a list of links to where those topics were mentioned on the web, so that you can be on top of the news. Simple like that.
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Tools That Can Help
Now that you have done your homework, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information that you have collected from your competitors’ social media networks. So here is a selection of tools that are going to make your life much easier by getting all that data much better organised and simpler to analyse and manage.
Fanpage Karma is a powerful analytics tool for Facebook. They will give you a full report on any Facebook page you want to monitor (either yours or your competitor’s) with crucial data about the page content (top posts, weakest posts), average weekly growth, ad value, response time influencers, most frequently used words, sources, hashtags, and more.
You can have a free sneak peek by signing to their free plan, which gives you a detailed analysis of one fan page, a basic dashboard, weekly reports and alerts, and 90 days analysis period. But, if you are taking things really seriously, you should consider subscribing to one of their payment plans, or adding features for Twitter and Google+ analytics. You can also choose to have access to all raw data related to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, using their API solution.
If you are looking for a more basic tool, LikeAlyser can be a good option for you. It will let you enter any Facebook page URL you wish so to get several basic stats about it, such as the type of posts, number of shares and posts per day, hashtags used, etc. It will also provide improvement recommendations based on the collected data and daily updated statistics about pages of interest, so you can monitor them and compare results.
This tool has a basic plan perfect for small and mid-size businesses that only need one seat monitoring their social media networks. It will give you brand analysis, ten monitors, PDF reports, and social influencers data. But it is their Advance plan that will take your social media analytics to the next level. It will allow you to monitor 12 brands, track 12 keywords, and give you advanced quota and industry analysis. Not enough? Then get their Ultimate plan and make the most of their workspaces, multiple seats, unlimited monitors, and big data sets.
But, if you are looking for something specifically created for Twitter instead, you should check Twitonomy. This free tool will give you detailed analytics about any Twitter account you wish, including insights about their tweets, retweets, replies, mentions, and hashtags. Your report can also be exported to Excel or as a PDF, and you can monitor your favourite users, lists, and keywords searches, and much more.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, there are many ways for you to monitor and analyse the social media activities of your competitors. You can do it the hard way, by doing it all by yourself, or the easy way, using free and paid tools to help you out.
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In any case, you will have in your hands valuable data that will help you to stand out in your industry and leave your competitors behind. So start putting these ideas into practice right now, so to make sure that you won’t be missing any opportunities in the marketplace ever again.