To stay ahead of the competition, businesses may want to consider routinely reviewing what their competition is doing through a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis is reviewing, monitoring and analyzing your competitors' activity to gain better insight into where your competition is placed in the marketplace.
This kind of analysis offers in-depth information on strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for your business that can help you stay ahead of the competition.
When doing a competitive analysis, you may want to consider focusing on social media, as it offers details into how your competitors are engaging with their audiences.
Who Are Your Competitors?
The first step in staying ahead of your competition is to identify your competitors. If you've been in business for some time, then you might already be aware of your competition.
If you are not clear on your top competitors, then you can start off by doing research online to identify companies that sell similar products and offer similar services.
A good strategy is to assume that you are the consumer and perform searches using specific keywords. Depending on your industry, you might come up with up to a few dozen competitors. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, but more an analysis of your closest competitors.
If you are having trouble culling the list down to five or 10 companies, review competitors that are in your local area.
Finding Social Media Channels
To stay ahead of the competition, the next step is to dive deeper into several social media channels—focusing on only one platform won't give you the entire story.
To get the most out of your analysis, follow your competition on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and any other social media platform where they have an account.
When staying ahead of the competition, it helps to stay organized. You can create a spreadsheet keeping track of your competition's social media accounts. As you review each account carefully, keep these questions in mind:
- How often are they posting? Is it several times per day, daily, weekly, etc.?
- What kind of content are they posting? Blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, promotions, events, case studies or interviews?
- Which content resonates most with audiences? Make a note of the best-performing pieces of content.
- What level is the audience engagement? Are users engaging with the content by “liking" or commenting?
- What are audiences saying in their comments? Are customers happy? Unhappy? Is there a trend about a specific topic or product functionality that keeps coming up?
- Are there pain points and frustrations included in posts or comments?
This last one is gold! If audiences are relaying their challenges overall (not direct challenges with the specific competitor), take note of these pain points. This is valuable information that you can use to address the market's challenges with your products or services.
For example, if you notice overarching challenges such as “I have trouble sleeping" or “I would like to grow my business using digital marketing, but don't know where to start," these would be golden nuggets of information to solve your market's problems with your products/services.
As a benchmark, businesses that are active on social media typically post at least several times per week per channel. If your competitors are not posting regularly or not posting on a specific channel, make note of that in your spreadsheet.
I would also add Amazon as another platform to review. Although Amazon is not entirely a social media platform, it also has a wealth of information that should not be overlooked.
If you have a physical product, you can check on your competitors' product reviews and identify any trends. And if you are in the service space, consider researching books specific to your service offering. You can review the comments and look for trends there.
Keeping track of your competitors' content and social media channels can be time-consuming, but there are several tools that will allow you to streamline the process.
To find content that your competitors are producing, check out Buzzsumo, which allows you to search for top-performing content on specific topics for your brand and your competition. Buzzsumo offers details about engagement and social shares in addition to many other data points.
Similarweb allows you to check on your competitor's traffic and determine a site's referral traffic. This insight allows you to see where your competitor's traffic is coming from so you can intercept that traffic before it gets to your competitor's site. For example, if your competitor's referral traffic is coming from a specific blog, reach out to the blog owner and ask if you can advertise on the blog.
And lastly, Feedly aggregates your competitor's content into a feed without you having to constantly visit their blog to see what they're discussing.
Analyze the Data
To truly stay ahead of the competition, you have to take action. You've gathered all the data in your spreadsheet—now it's time to do the analysis.
Based on the data, identify your competitor's strengths and weaknesses. Consider building on what your competitors are already doing. If the competitor creates a blog post describing a specific topic, build on it and make it even more valuable to your target market.
Find opportunities where your competition is lacking. Perhaps they are not addressing a certain market pain point. Maybe they're not responding to comments quickly enough or posting to a specific social media channel. Take advantage of the opportunity to bring even more value to your market.
Identifying your competitors, gathering data and creating strategies using social media channels can help you stay ahead of the competition and grow your business.
Read more articles on competitive research.