I like to win.

These days, I think a lot about winning because the end of the quarter is fast approaching. And one of the ways my performance is going to be measured will be against social media goals. I’m a digital marketer, after all.

So which goals in particular? The usual suspects such as the amount of followers and social engagement generated by all my activities on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn…with a little blogging thrown in for good measure. But things are on track because I knew what to benchmark at the beginning of the quarter…the competition!
What's your competition up to on social media

By using my company’s three top competitors as targets, I had an objective measure to develop goals for my social media activities. This was instead of the usual goal-setting process of “let’s grow our social channels by say… 10%, uh no, 20%”. Sound familiar?

Of course, in addition to helping with goal setting, the competitive intelligence I gleaned from social media also gave me valuable insights into our social media strategy. Bonus!

Six things to discover about your competition

With that in mind, here are six things you can discover by observing what your competitors are up to on social media:

  1. Which social networks are competitors active (and winning) on? Sure, most brands are active on the major social networks. But where do your competitors have dominance and where do you? And does this mean your goals should be more about defending turf, gaining a foothold, or charting new territory?
  2. What’s the quality of their social media channels? Who cares if your main competitor has 10X the audience on Facebook or Twitter if that fan base is mostly for a line of business you don’t compete or maybe comes from fair-weather fans looking for coupons, not real customers showing their brand loyalty? Look closely and figure out what’s wheat versus chaff.
  3. How active are they on social media? Wouldn’t you like to know whether the bad guys are blogging daily or once every blue moon? Or how often they’re tweeting or posting to Facebook? Since social activity impacts social engagement, this info will help you decipher how active your brand needs to be to take first place on the leaderboard.
  4. What are competitors talking about on social media? What are they blogging about? Which hashtags are they using? What national and local events are they building social campaigns around? All good things to ponder when developing your content marketing and social media approach.
  5. Which types of content are they using to spread the word? Are the other teams using visual media to tell their story on Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram? Or maybe their content strategy is to let the customers do the talking. Could be. They think Facebook is still about contests or crafting the elusive viral video. Now, consider what media you’ll be relying on to spread the word about your brand.
  6. Who’s amplifying their brand message? The folks you play against can’t do it alone. So who are the influencers that are amplifying your competitors’ social messages? Paid celebrities, brand advocates, industry thought-leaders? Given that, who’s helping you move the ball with social media, and what are your goals to find more of them?

It’s time for you to get started with finding out this information.

First, decide on the competitors you’ll be focused on, and then make sure you’re armed with the latest and greatest social media platform…especially since things move fast on the playing field!

And while I’ll be the first to admit it’s not all about the competition, these competitive insights can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to developing the right social media strategy, and the quarterly goals to help you achieve them…that is, if you want to win.

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