How to Do a Competitor Analysis the Right Way

Whether your brand is new to the social listening game or you’ve been around the block a few times, a competitive analysis is a key ingredient in your overall market intelligence. Brands that don’t exert much effort here – or none at all – are driving a car on three wheels.

An athlete studies an opponent to understand their strengths and weaknesses. If your brand underestimates your competition or operates on faulty intel, then you’re not in a position to dominate. For brands wanting to take competitive intelligence seriously, we’ll talk here about how to do a competitor analysis the right way. And we’ll do so with a look at:

  • What is a competitor analysis?
  • Critical components of a thorough competitor analysis

It’s a dog-eat-dog atmosphere in the business world, and rigorous competitive intelligence is fast becoming the standard if you want to outgun your competitors. Here are a few stats that attest to that:

  • Global revenue from business intelligence software was expected to reach nearly $23 billion in 2021. In 2022, forecasts project a monstrous rise to top $29 billion.
  • 74% of brands say their main competitors are already using competitive analysis tools to explore advantages and differentiate themselves in the market.
  • A competitor analysis should be a key ingredient in your market intelligence protocol. A recent survey found 48% of businesses said their industry was much more competitive than usual.

Let’s lay a little groundwork, and then we’ll cover what you need to include, so you know how to do a competitor analysis that illuminates your next move.


What is a Competitor Analysis?

A competitive analysis is performed on a competitor precisely the same way you’d run a brand health analysis. A well-rounded competitive analysis will draw data from social media, traditional news, blogs, forums, product and employee review sites, earnings call transcripts, company financials, and even patent data for a holistic viewpoint of competitor performance.

Alongside your brand, trend, and industry analyses, a competitor analysis is a powerful tool to round out your market intelligence. However, an incomplete or poorly executed competitive analysis can lead to “insights” that are misguided and lead your brand in the wrong direction should you act upon them.

The overall idea of a comprehensive competitor analysis is to build your analyses for primary competitors precisely as you do your own brand – minus internal data, of course. The goal is to construct identical analyses so you are left with actionable comparisons.

When learning how to do a competitor analysis, it’s essential to understand that it’s never really finished. Naturally, consumer perceptions, supply strains, current events, and emerging trends impact your competitors just as they do your brand. As such, it’s best to monitor your competitors over time in a cyclical manner that builds upon your previous competitive intelligence.


Knowing how to do a competitor analysis effectively doesn’t have to be complicated. However, an investigation that yields actionable insights should cover quite a few bases. Let’s take a look!

Critical Components of a Thorough Competitor Analysis

There is a wealth of data floating around the web on your competitors. Most of it is unstructured, meaning you’ll rely heavily on your data analytics tools to capture it. This is an area you can’t afford to get wrong, so make sure your tools are up to the task and have access to a large and diverse amount of data sources. The more – the better.

And as you go through each area of your analysis, remember that you’re looking to establish baseline metrics to measure against your own brand. And your tools should offer complete transparency, meaning there are no roadblocks to digging into the dataset for the posts, articles, authors, etc., behind the numbers. This is critical to trusting your tools and covering your back when your decision-makers want more details. With that out of the way, let’s jump in and see how to do a competitor analysis.

Social Share of Voice

It’s critical to understand your brand’s share of voice (SoV) in relation to your competitors. That’s because your brand’s online SoV is closely related to your market share. It gives you direct feedback on where you stand with a competitor. Over time, this metric can show you whether you’re gaining ground or not. Here is a one-month example using three fast-food burger chains in an all-in-one dashboard, which gives you a snapshot in time, including several valuable metrics:


Social share of voice metrics for three competing fast-food burger chains. 11/11/21-12/11/21

Traditional Media Coverage

Knowing how your competitors are received in the media is the other side of the share of voice coin. Media and social conversations don’t always follow the same trajectory, so establishing metrics here gives you the comprehensive viewpoint you’re after. There are tons of media outlets across the globe, so dialing into the ones talking about your competitors can position you to capitalize on white space or shortcomings. Here’s a one-year snapshot of the same burger brands by primary mentions in local media publications in the US:


Media timeline for three competing brands in local media outlets across the US. 12/11/20-12/11/21

KOLs and Influencers

Most often, the key opinion leaders at work in your industry will cover both you and the competition. However, you need to look at these KOLs from a competitor’s standpoint and how they add or detract from their overall sentiment. Realistically, tracking your competition’s influencer marketing campaigns will be the real bread and butter, however. This will be where the significant differences lie between your brand and the other guys. Tracking key metrics here will add invaluable insights in developing your marketing strategy.

Audience Comparison

Nothing lets you leverage unmet needs like a keen understanding of the voice of the customer. When comparing a competitor’s audience against your own, you can quickly discern where their audience is unhappy and how you can address those shortcomings in your products and messaging. A running comparison of trending hashtags, terms, emotions, and consumer behaviors offers your brand a front-row seat into how customers perceive your competition.


Top consumer behavior terms across competitors’ audiences. 11/11/21-12/11/21

Patents and Company Data

Using your market intelligence tools to aggregate patent data and M&A intel yields a unique perspective into innovations at work within your industry. Knowing where your competitors sit on a company level within this categorical matrix illuminates their trajectory to foretell where they’re heading.

Michael Wahlen, an expert consultant with Boston Consulting Group, put it this way during our NetBase Quid Live 2021 event: “We at BCG use [company analysis] in a variety of ways. One of the things I’m passionate about is looking at companies, and particularly startups, to see what they’re doing and where they’re going. It gives us huge insight into where their industries are headed, where technologies are headed, where innovation is headed, and more generally, where the world is going.”

All these insights are available on your main competitors and the up-and-comers within your category. Company data should be included in your competitor analysis as it shows investment and innovation movement within your industry so that you can adjust accordingly.

Product and Employee Reviews

Product reviews open a window directly into the consumer pain points of your competitors. As such, they are a goldmine of audience intel that you can use in your R&D strategies to entice disgruntled consumers. Additionally, comparing your own employee review data with your competitors helps you to shore up areas of weakness with your team and build a culture that attracts top talent to your brand – not theirs.


Competitive Trend Tracking

Everything your brand does should be done in light of emerging trends and current events. Your audience is paying attention here, and so should you. That being the case, it pays to watch how your competitors choose to act upon or ignore trends that are top of mind with consumers. You always want to position your brand to outdo the competition – especially regarding emerging trends. Since jobs, inflation, and salary are a hot topic among consumers right now, here’s a look at the sentiment drivers around wages with our three competitors as an example:


Sentiment drivers among wage discussions for three competing brands. 11/11/21-12/11/21

With metrics surrounding these key areas at your disposal, your competitor analysis will serve your brand well. As we touched on in the beginning, more and more brands are feeling the heat and turning to data analytics tools to edge out the competition. And now that you know how to do a competitor analysis the right way, there’s no reason for your brand not to dish out some stiff competition in 2022!

Is your brand outfoxing the competition at every turn? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll help you put the pedal down on your competitive strategy with world-class analytics capabilities.


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