Social Media: Big companies have it, smaller companies have it. Celebrities, housekeepers, infants, 60-year-olds – even cats and dogs have it. Billions use social media every day, and millions of marketers are helping businesses grab customers via social. So how do you stand out? And how do you beat your competitors?
Photo credit to @oliviamreyes, @saramaijewels, @ddonvand, @angelbengal
Social users are free to choose which accounts they want to follow and which content they want to read, so to be seen you have to create social content users want and need.
Coming up with content that is more effective than your competitors’ is not easy. You have to know which types of content work best for them and you need to see where they failed – this is where competitive analysis comes in, and we can help you with that.
In this guide, we will walk you through each step of setting up a social media competitive analysis, using the SEMrush Social Media Tracker:
First, we will reveal your biggest online rivals and analyze their best practices on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+.
After that, we will help you identify the best-performing content in each of the social networks, paying attention to special offers and promos.
Finally, we will show you how to track hashtags used by competitors and how to track mentions featuring your brand.
Setting Up a Campaign
Let’s say you are a business that offers pet food delivery services. This niche has a lot of competition, so how do you stand out?
It is always good to compare your social media strategies with your competition’s on a consistent basis, and there is an easy way to do that. Just set up a Project in SEMrush and select 'Social Media' on the 'Projects' dashboard.
The tool will automatically suggest your own social media accounts to track – just double check and make sure they are all correct. Next, enter your competitors’ domains and make sure their suggested social accounts are correct as well.
Now that you have added the competitors you know, it is time to discover some you might not have been aware of. This is simple with our SEMrush Organic Competitors report.
Just type in your domain, choose the relevant language database, and you will get the following report:
Pay special attention to the bubbles located above you and to your right. They represent the competitors whose total traffic exceeds yours and who are ranking for more keywords than you are.
Then go back to the Social Media Tracker and add these domains to your campaign in the ‘Manage Competitors’ section in the top right corner of the page:
Next, take a look at the ‘Overview’ report to get a general idea about the company’s audience size, activity, and engagement for the selected period of time:
You can switch between the company domains to analyze your competitors as well.
Identify Top Performing Content
To find out which posts worked best in a particular social network, refer to the ‘Top Content’ report below. To get more details about these posts, choose the social network you wish to analyze and click on ‘View all (choose your network) posts.’
You will then see a list of the most engaging posts for either all profiles or a selected profile:
Above we can see all profiles at a glance, but when you select a particular profile, you can find out more information about which content strategies worked for each competitor.
In the image below we see that two companies had success by targeting a holiday, Easter. So we can see this is an opportunity we don’t want to miss when the next holiday rolls around.
Keep An Eye Out for Special Offers
When scrolling through the list of posts, pay attention to your competitors’ special offers to see which deals performed best. Look at the words used and the imagery; what worked & what didn’t? Based on this information, you might want to change something in your sales strategy, i.e. find a charity to partner with, provide coupon codes, or sign a deal with a particular supplier to secure further discounts:
Track Your Competitors’ Audience Growth
Your competitors may focus their efforts on particular social networks, or just one. You need to know which networks each competitor is targeting, how often they are posting, what they are posting, and keep an eye on their monthly audience growth.
You can switch between different social networks tabs and go to the ‘Audience’ analytics section, which is available in each tab:
Once you have figured out who is dominant in each social network, try to find out how often and what type of content they post. These insights could give you some direction with your own social media strategy.
Analyze Your Competitors’ Activity
In the previous step we found that out of all the domains we analyzed, petsathome.co.uk was particularly good at promoting themselves on Facebook. If your targeted audience were on Facebook, this data would be crucial for creating a competitive social media strategy.
With the ‘Activity’ report, you would be able to analyze their Facebook activity in more detail.
You could discover how much and what type of content (photos, videos, etc.) they are posting:
You could see when exactly their posts get published and when they get the highest engagement:
- You could compare their overall publishing trends to yours and your other competitors':
Clicking on the ‘Hashtags’ report, which is available in the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ tabs, will take you to a list of hashtags used by your competitors. Again, you can see what they are up to in the social media space.
If a particular hashtag catches your eye – for example, #win – and you want to find out what kind of online competitions your competitors are running, you can filter out all the posts that contain that hashtag by clicking on it:
Analyze Engagement Trends
SEMrush Social Media tool users can switch to the ‘Engagement’ tab and take a look at the ‘Engagement Trends’ graph to see spikes in their or their competitors’ user engagement. You can also identify which pieces of content caused them by clicking on the peaks:
Track Your Mentions and Get To Know Your Fans
No need to explain how important it is to monitor your reputation. Get to know your customers and their mentions of your brand through the ‘Mentioners’ and ‘Mentions’ report in the ‘Twitter’ tab.
You may want to treat your most loyal customers to something special: sometimes even something as simple as posting a picture of their pet in your news feed can make them happy.
If your company followed all of the steps above, you would have a good arsenal of information that you can use later when planning your social media activities:
You could establish your biggest online rivals, find out in which social networks they are doing a good job, and determine what types of content and tactics are helping them, as well as how often they post their content.
You could identify the top-performing content on each of the social networks you will be targeting.
You could spot some of your competitors’ special offers and promos.
You could discover your most loyal customers and take note of bad reviews as well.
This competitive data could give you a major edge over your competitors, so we recommend you check out the SEMrush Social Media Tracker today.
Set up your first social media campaign and let us know what you think in the comments below!