How To Monitor Competitors’ Social Activity Without Overdoing It
Kimberly Surico |
 08/13/19 |
4 min read

The grass isn’t greener on your competitor’s lawn . . . or is it? Monitoring competitors social activity is important, but it shouldn’t take up too much of your time – unless you’re planning a hostile takeover. Otherwise, you’re just wasting valuable hours you should have been spending gathering intel around your own efforts.

But how do you know when enough is enough? We have some standards to guide your competitor listening crusade. Ways to gather insight that won’t keep you awake at night.

Which Competitor Social Activity Matters?

Not all social activity is created equal – and quite a bit of it is downright deceptive. Let’s break it down by social activity to (mostly) ignore and social activity to explore.

Competitor Social Activity to (Mostly) Ignore

There are lots of pretty useless social stats out there. Stats that, when taken at face value, appear impressive, but are basically useless without the ability to understand what’s behind it. Stats like:

  • Follower count. This can be easily inflated with purchased followers, of course. Fake accounts are getting harder to spot, in response to social networks’ algorithmic attempts to weed out fraud. The accounts have more genuine looking characteristics that make them less immediate to spot when performing a spot check.
  • These can be part of a “like for a like” exchange that can be as meaningless as fake followers. And it can be obvious when you see tons or likes but no other real engagement.
  • Super general comment data. For this one, you’ll see comments that kind of make sense, but are so general you’re unsure. Those are similar to the “like for like” exchange, but scammers have upped the ante (and cash value of the effort) with comments. You’ll find these happening on influencer posts, by those that aren’t authentically influential but put on a good show. This can be hard to spot without a social listening tool.
  • Brand @Mentions. This can be a tricky stat to sort out too. Just because an influencer with a huge following and gets lots of brand mention retweets, doesn’t mean it’s actually resonating with a target audience. A solid social listening tool will alert you to retweeted content driving numbers up.

And now that you know what to (mostly) ignore and it feels like everything, what is left to explore? So very much, really!

Competitor Social Activity to Explore

The key to it all – to understanding if the intel you’re tracking is ‘Hot or Not’ – is the ability to see how well competitors are aligning their approach to category and audience insight. And if influential folks are participating in the conversation – both organically and via paid partnerships.

Let’s pretend, for example, that your competitor has a pretty snazzy campaign happening right now. It’s visually compelling, with creative content and seems to be resonating. But, is it?

Capture the trending conversations happening in your category right now and see if this competitor is capturing a good portion of the overarching conversation. If it isn’t – don’t worry too much about it. Make note of it and set up an alert or two to track mentions of its key terms (so you can see if it experiences a spike in mentions) – and move on.

If it’s capturing a good amount of category traffic, it makes sense to explore a bit further.

Who are the main voices talking about it? Are these folks influential in your space or just influential in general. It matters.

Our influencer analysis dashboard will help you sort this out quickly. It allows you to monitor and analyze the impact of known influencers (and/or detractors) in your category.

Influencer Analysis to Monitor Competitors

How to set up an influencer analysis dashboard

This analysis helps brands understand:

  • Influencer audience size by reviewing the Authors metric.
  • The conversation summary with overall conversation volume.
  • How passionately people speak (measure of brand love from -100 to 100).
  • Which conversations are impactful, using the Potential Impressions metric.
  • The most used hashtags and top terms talked about via Word Clouds.

Overall, when the category conversations and influential voices in your space are lining up with what your competitor is doing, it’s time to take note. Short of that, it’s time to redouble focus on your own efforts to make them track you!

Look to the sentiment driving these indicators and where you can find a niche the competitor has yet to exploit with whatever successful promotion(s) you’re seeing. One brand can’t be everything to everyone at once, so there’s always a way in if you’re willing to dig a little bit.

Exploring Everything Under Competitors’ Campaigns

And if your competitor’s campaign seems to be missing the mark, you can explore it further to get a better sense of it all. Run a search specific to their campaign (by keywords and/or brand name) and pay attention to the sentiment expressed around it, particularly the Net Sentiment. And exploring what’s behind it:

This competitor may not be capturing the main category conversation, but may have discovered a new audience segment that you’ll want to be aware of. Or not.

Does the demographic data make sense – are they attracting a different age group?

And what about geographically? Are you seeing significant volume in an area you haven’t before?

Geographical data showing where in the world an audience is

All of this in isolation doesn’t do much. It’s the ability to tie it all together and quickly decide to act or dismiss it and move on. Either way, thanks to clickable metrics that offer transparent, credible insight backing up each item, you’re not left wondering/obsessing.

Social listening overview to monitor competitors social activity


Use your social listening tool to your advantage. Set up alerts and dashboards to inform your brand marketing efforts, and have another set of alerts and dashboards for monitoring competitors.

Do not spend more time than necessary watching a competitor’s paint dry. That’s precisely what you’re doing when you find yourself constantly falling down competitor rabbit holes. It’s pointless and does nothing to inform your efforts.

Monitoring competitors with a social monitoring tool saves many hours of time, while offering informed insight that’s super valuable to your brand. Reach out and we’ll show you how to scroll through it all – even the juicy tidbits – in a fraction of the time.

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