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How to conduct social media competitor analysis

The words social media competitor analysis on a green background next to a phone icon displaying a bar chart.

Social media competitor analysis combines a massive data source with an essential form of market research. The collective power of these two forms of analysis can produce new product and marketing strategies to help you get ahead of the competition. 

What is social media analysis?

Social media analysis is the process of gathering online social media data and conversations, analyzing the information and using social insights to inform brand strategy.

What is competitor analysis?

Competitor analysis is the identification and assessment of your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your own. Analysis provides contextual understanding of your own performance. Your numbers might look good on the surface, but competitor analysis lets you know how your performance ranks within a larger industry. 

The four steps:

1. Identify competitors

There are a few ways to identify direct competitors, the first being Google. With an understanding of the keywords your brand ranks for (or wants to rank for), it’s easy to find competitors who also rank for those keywords. 

If you’re unsure of target keywords, the Google Ads Keyword Tool can identify new keywords relevant to your brand. It also details the popularity of those search terms and the difficulty in ranking for them.

Once your keywords are identified, simply search for those keywords using Google. Use a private or incognito window to ensure that the results are not skewed by your previous search behavior. This will reveal which brands are appearing in searches and ranking for your keywords.

Next, take a look at the brand’s website to confirm whether it is in direct competition with your brand. For example, both brands might rank for the word shoes, but you sell sneakers and the top ranking brand sells sandals. Although you can still learn from the other brand’s SEO strategies, you’re likely not competing for the same market of consumers.

2. Do your research

Once you’ve identified your competitors, it’s time to do some social media competitor analysis and research. Seek out those competitors on your chosen social media platforms – Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, etc.

Take notice of:

  • Number of followers
  • Number of likes
  • Engagement rate
  • Frequency of posting
  • Brand persona
  • Hashtags
  • Location tags
  • Account tags
  • Influencer/brand partnerships

Using quantitative metrics like followers and likes, you can quickly see how your social performance stacks up against competitors. This can provide an engagement goal or baseline understanding of industry benchmarks – but the real value comes from analyzing the how and why of these numbers. 

3. Gather data

The most efficient way to harness social media data is through a social listening software. These tools sift through billions of words to identify the posts and conversations most relevant to your inquiry in an exportable format. 

There are a wide range of companies that offer social listening services, including:

  • Brandwatch
  • Sprout Social
  • Meltwater
  • Zoho Social
  • Hootesuite
  • Semrush
  • Sprinklr

4. Analyze data

Social media competitor analysis can be approached from two different angles:

  • By analyzing all mentions of your brand and competitors to understand how your brand compares in the eyes of consumers.
  • The second approach compares your social activity as a brand against your competitor’s to reveal differences in brand persona, tone of voice and social strategy. 

To effectively complete social media competitor analysis, you need a tool to facilitate these two forms of comparison. 

Relative Insight takes third party social listening data and brings out the meaningful insights hidden within. Our text analysis tool discovers the differences in how each group communicates. In the case of a social media competitor analysis, those sets of words can be your brand communications compared to your competitor’s or mentions or your brand compared to other brands.

Relative Insight uncovers what makes your brand unique – including strengths and weaknesses – to help identify your position in the market in addition to gaps or missed opportunities. 

Case Study: Analyzing social media output from five burger brands

Track how you compare to competitors on social media