What was that thing your competitor said on Facebook the other day? The comment that had everybody in your industry talking for days?
If you’re not monitoring your competition, you won’t know what they’re saying, or how your potential audience is reacting. “Social listening,” or “social monitoring,” is a common marketing practice that allows you to see what your competitors are doing online. Tracking the competition also gives you insight into how their audience is reacting, which enables you to gauge how your audience would react if you tailored your campaigns accordingly.
There are, of course, other areas you might consider monitoring about your competition; things like traffic patterns on their website; blog traffic and comments; and overall market share to name but a few. Our focus for today is going to be on social monitoring, as it’s an easy and fast way to gain valuable insight into the direction your main competitors are going. We’ll go over a handful of the most important lessons this sort of listening can teach you, as well as some of the ways tools like Hubspot are making it even easier to glean this information right from your own account dashboard.
Which Platforms are they Dominating?
Is your main competitor blowing up on Instagram, leaving your presence in the dust? It’s time to dig in. What types of content are they posting there? How often? Do they use this channel for one primary type of engagement? Each of these questions can garner you the insight you need to tweak your own presence.
You can either go at them head-on, posting the same type of content only better. Or you can make an end-run around them by posting different content types, but target it directly at their audience. By understanding how your competition is using a particular platform, you can find your way in, your way to bring some of the eyeballs they’re getting over to your own high-quality content.
What Content is Resonating?
Does your competitor’s presence on Facebook seem to engender a devoted following of customers, just waiting for each new post to come out? Are their Stories garnering solid engagement numbers? Once again, it’s time to dig into the metrics. See what their stories are about, what are they telling their audience about? Recent successes? A-day-in-the-life of a software developer? Or are they using this media to teach their audience how to overcome a pain point they share in common?
Use what you find to tailor your own presence. If they’re using Stories to help people overcome a troublesome issue, go after a related issue with your own Stories posts. Be sure to script your videos and run them through dedicated post-production so the overall feel is polished and shines brighter than those other guys. Then promote your version by targeting their audience along with yours.
Are They Using Hashtags or other Focused Content?
Industry-specific hashtags are a great way to expand your organic reach on social media. Is your competitor using any that you aren’t? We’re not talking about branded hashtags here, those are a bit too specific to each company. We’re talking about general use tags that speak to your industry, sector, or audience segment. See which of their posts are being found via hashtag searches, or which tags are on the posts with the highest engagement numbers and find ways to incorporate these tags into your posts.
Where are They Focusing Their Ad Spend?
See which posts are being boosted to get that bit of extra-organic reach. This can be used to redirect your own ad spending. Maybe they’re boosting their long-form posts about trends in the industry. Or their videos that document a recent customer success story.
Now you know it may be worthwhile steering your campaign in a similar direction for a bit, to compete for those same views and click-throughs. Once again, you can either go head-to-head and boost similar content—or you can go the opposite direction and exploit a subject they’re ignoring. Either way, you’re going to reap the benefits of their research to help boost your own content.
How Hubspot can Help with Social Monitoring
Each of the above-referenced competitor metrics, engagement numbers, rates, views, and even basics like follower count, are all available in tools like Hubspot’s new Competitive Social Tracking module. This module lets you track your top three competing companies social presence, and all you have to know to get started is their primary URL.
What this tool gives you is a cross-platform list of their social media posts that can be sorted by two primary metrics, total engagement, and engagement rate. The latter is simply the former divided by follower count. Each individual post includes the tag “$ Likely Boosted” on any post that appears to be reaching a non-organic audience.
For example, if you’re looking at what Facebook content is resonating the most, sort that feed by total engagement. Now, look at the content that ranks in the top 10 posts. Is it videos? Funny stories about co-workers? Or user-generated success stories sent in by happy customers?
The amount of useful information you can pull from this is immense. Do you need to change your content focus on this platform? Is your competitor missing a segment of their audience by not talking about something you happen to know a lot about? Put in the time and effort in this module, and you’ll come away with more appropriate targeting information, a better list of subject matter, and even an idea of what media type to use in presenting each subject.
All of this means you have a single dashboard where you can find and research your competitor’s social media presence, reach, and engagement. That will give you everything you need to come up with your response campaign, crafting the content that will not only drive up your own engagement numbers but will help get your content in front of your competitor’s audience as well. The more eyes on your posts, the more click-throughs, and ultimately the more conversions.
Has this article inspired you to take social media by storm? Be sure your efforts are working for you by cross checking them with our FREE social media branding guidelines checklist!