Written by Sam Yadegar on Apr 14 , 2021

Don’t let competitors have an edge over you on social media — conduct a competitor analysis to stay in the game.

Here, you’ll find: 

  • Steps for conducting a competitor analysis for social media
  • Why it’s key to understand your competition’s social strategy 
  • How a competitor analysis can improve your own social results
  • Top tools when doing a competitor analysis for social media 

Social media is one of the most popular ways to engage with customers and effectively reach your target audience. In fact, HubSpot reports 90% of brands now use it to build awareness and grow their reach, among other things. 

But, just like in search engine results, there’s competition for eyeballs and attention on social media. That’s why understanding how your brand stacks up against the competition is important for developing your social strategy and making it work best for you. 

Conducting a competitive analysis for social media can be crucial for enhancing your social media performance. Besides better understanding your competition, a social media competitor analysis will put helpful information in your hands on how to improve your brand’s strategy. 

Don’t get left in the social media dust. Use these 7 steps to conduct a competitor analysis like a pro. 

competitor analysis for social media

Before you get too far in your social media analysis, identify the purpose of running one in the first place. (Image via Unsplash)

Why should I track my competitors on social media? 

There are many advantages to conducting a competitor analysis for social media, from gaining inspiration for content to identifying mistakes to avoid. Understanding how the competition engages with its target audience can also help you identify your unique value proposition and ways to grow your market share based on their weaknesses. 

Knowing what your competitors are doing on social media is essential for building an effective social strategy that stands out. Here’s how to conduct a competitor analysis for social media the right way. 

1. Determine your top competitors 

You probably already have a good idea about who your top competitors are. If not, it’s worth taking the time to identify your top five competing companies. 

To identify your competition, using Google to search for keywords your target customers use to find your business is a good place to start. Once you’ve made a list, you can put on your detective hat and dive a little deeper to determine how active each of them is on social media. Of course, you want to focus your efforts on brands that have a social strategy, so you can effectively compare. 

Pro tip: Visiting your competitors’ websites is usually a quick and easy way to find their social media profiles, as they often link to them in their site’s header or footer. 

2. Set your goals

Before you get too far in your social media analysis, identify the purpose of running one in the first place. Without knowing why you’re conducting an analysis, it will be difficult to measure and evaluate your results. 

You’ll find a lot of data when digging into your competitor’s social strategies, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for to ensure you’re not wasting time gathering irrelevant data. 

Some common goals of conducting a competitor analysis for social media are: 

  • Improving organic reach
  • Determining the best social platform for your brand
  • Increasing engagement or followers
  • Optimizing social ads

3. Pick the social networks to monitor

Most companies stick to the main social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They also may be more active on some than others. Look to see which social media platforms your competition leverages the most and why that might be.

Do they see the most engagement on Instagram or LinkedIn? The answer could indicate where your target audience is spending most of their social media scrolling time, which can help inform your own social strategy. 

4. Track key performance metrics

After identifying the social media platforms your competitors are most active on, you can work to gain a better understanding of how they engage with and grow their network. 

The following key metrics can help you examine and track their performance. 

  • Profile metrics: Note things like the number of followers, average weekly posts, and engagement 
  • Content metrics: Note the types of content shared, number of ads or boosted posts, and image to video post ratio
  • Brand metrics: Note the tone of voice, key issues most often addressed, and interaction from followers
  • Engagement metrics: Note the likes, comments, and shares of their content and the number of customers using their branded hashtags

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to look at the average engagement by post type (video, photo, text, link) to compare to your posts as well.

woman in hat looking at cell phone

Automating the tracking of competitors is the most effective way to get up-to-date data. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Determine the prime time for your social media audience

Ensuring your content is seen by followers at the best times of day and days of the week will help you work smarter vs. harder when it comes to social reach. While consistent posting is key to an effective social media strategy, it’s not enough to just post as you please. Rather, it’s helpful to know when the largest number of targeted users are online. 

Looking at each of your social platform’s analytics is a good starting point. From there, noting your competitor’s posting times and their engagement rating can help determine if adjusting your posting times will increase the chances of reaching more targeted consumers.

Need more help with your social media strategy? Let’s talk! 

6. Don’t forget about paid media

While it’s almost impossible to determine the exact amount your competition spends on paid media campaigns, you can try to determine if they’re paying for increased followers or post engagement. 

Plus, if you’re conducting a social media analysis without considering if they’re boosting or running ads, it could skew your results and have you setting unachievable organic goals. 

The tools in the next section can help you run an analysis or browse each social platform individually to look for any sponsored ads. Taking things a step further and conducting a full PPC competitor analysis will also give you more information on improving your paid reach. 

Pro tip: Facebook Ad Library is a helpful tool for checking if your competition is actively running ads on Facebook or Instagram. 

7. Find the proper tools to conduct a competitor analysis for social media

Automating the tracking of competitors is the most effective way to get up-to-date data. While you can conduct a competitor analysis for social media on your own, using the proper tools makes the process more efficient and allows for easy tracking of both your and your competitors’ results. 

Tools for running a competitive analysis and reports for improving your social strategy include: 

  • BuzzSumo
  • Brandwatch
  • Facebook Analytics
  • Facebook Ad Library
  • Sociality.io
  • Socialbakers
  • Sprout Social 

The takeaway

Comparing your social media presence and results to your competitors gives you insight into their social strategies and shows you the best ways to outrank them. 

With most of the data being public knowledge, conducting a competitor analysis for social media is easier than you might think. However, compiling the data is only the first step. 

Effectively analyzing the information and results requires using the top tools and understanding what it all means. From there, you can post more like-worthy posts, tweets, and Stories — and feel confident that you’re on the right track.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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