• Natalie Markovits

How social media competitive intelligence gives your brand an edge

Updated: Mar 28

Today’s business environment is highly competitive, and you can’t expect to succeed if you only focus on your own performance in isolation. It’s not enough to know your own strengths and weaknesses; you need to know how they compare to your competitors, as well as a clear understanding of the needs and desires of your shared audience.

Photo of a checkmate

And there’s no way to gain a fully rounded picture without social media. Social media isn’t just for content distribution; it’s the place where your relationship with consumers plays out. People go to social media to discover, recommend, and fall in love with new brands, to the extent that 9 out of 10 consumers buy from brands they follow on social media.


Social media is a treasure trove of data about what your audience thinks about your brand, what they do and don’t like about your online campaigns and content, and what makes consumers choose to follow - or buy from - the competition, but like all treasure, it takes some effort to acquire it. You don’t have to dig a mine, but you do need the right tools - namely social media competitive intelligence - to bring the data to the surface.


What is social media competitive intelligence?


Traditional competitive intelligence refers to gathering and analyzing data to understand the market, the competition, and your place in relation to it all. It’s about mapping the competitive landscape and your company’s place within it, discovering how competitors are pricing their products, what sales they are running, how many people are using their products, etc.


Using social media competitive analysis moves the process of market intelligence to social media. It opens up a new layer of insights into the online conversations your competitor has with your shared audience, so you can glean an understanding of their shifting interests, needs, and concerns in real-time.


What is the difference between social listening and social media competitive analysis?


Social listening, also referred to as social media monitoring and social media analytics is just one piece of the process of social media competitive intelligence. With social listening, you can track direct mentions of your brand name, product name, or other chosen keywords, or watch specific conversations.


Single-channel social listening programs, like those built into Facebook and Twitter, only offer very basic tracking and data analytics capabilities that don’t dig beneath the surface of the discourse. Even many independent social listening tools only cover a few of the best-known social media platforms, without visibility into conversations on newer, emerging networks that might be home to more of your company’s audience, such as Reddit, Pinterest or Discord.


Social listening tools also tend to track basic metrics, such as how many people like, comment on, or share your posts, and let you track followers. Some can follow specific search terms, but you will need to identify them, define them, and enter them into the platform manually. The tools won’t suggest keywords that you might not have considered.


In contrast, to accomplish social media competitive intelligence you need to go into much more depth. Platforms that do social media competitive intelligence dig beneath simple social media data insights to reveal what’s really going on with your audience in real-time. They uncover people’s likes and dislikes, their sentiment towards your brand, and the emerging topics and trends people are discussing in posts on social media platforms.


Social media competitive analysis presents the “why” behind a jump in follower numbers or change in their location. Its competitor analysis helps you understand how you are succeeding relative to your rivals, and measure your brand reputation, brand awareness, share of voice, and more in comparison to the rest of the market.


Unlike social listening tools, a social media competitive analysis platform pushes new keywords, nascent trends, and burgeoning topics into your field of vision, providing you with answers before you formulate the question. You don’t need to first define what you’re looking for and then use the tool to hunt down the data.


What are the benefits of social media competitive intelligence?

A phone with icons from social media
  • Perform in-depth competitor analysis to understand what’s going on in your industry.

  • Compare your position with that of a competitor, discover what to do to improve or hold on to your competitive advantage.

  • Dig deep into competitors’ campaign choices, content, content types, and target audiences, and track the success of each factor to learn what to imitate and what to improve.

  • Track KPIs and metrics to measure your progress.

  • Understand which posts are getting more attention, engagement, shares, etc.

  • Discover new trending topics and issues on social media.

  • Accurately identify your target audience on different channels.

  • Explore social data to see how your competitor responds to changing dynamics within your industry, and learn from their mistakes and successes.

Why do you need social media competitive intelligence?


Strengthen your brand reputation

Most people encounter your brand for the first time on social media. Instead of seeing it as a place to broadcast messaging, companies need to realize that it’s the first step in the customer experience they offer.


Essentially, social media is the start of a customer experience journey that (hopefully) ends in purchase and retention, so it’s crucial to begin on the right foot. You want your customer’s first interaction with your brand to be appealing, positive, and friction-free.


Optimize your social media strategy

Social media competitive analysis gives you the actionable insights to optimize your social media strategy, gain a greater share of voice against your competitors, and sharpen your competitive edge.


Additionally, these insights enable you to customize your social media campaigns for each segment of your audience. Refine your campaigns for each influencer and their following, according to their vibe and concerns on each channel, and ensure your paid social media ads are targeting the right keywords and segments, to drive higher ROI on your media investment.


Fine-tune your content choices

With the help of social media competitive analysis, you can be the first to know about trending topics. Use that advanced insight to develop hyper-relevant content, both for social media posts and for your other content channels.


Keep abreast of the competition

The market never stays static, so you can’t expect your competitors to remain constant. Social media competitor analysis ensures that you know about new competitors as soon as they emerge on the scene, and sometimes even before that.


Track the changing scenery of your vertical industry and the wider industry so you know where you rank, who are your closest rivals, and what has changed in your relative positioning.


Understand your performance in context

A better understanding of your achievements and those of your competitors help you understand your performance in context. For example, is your conversion rate failing, or are you just experiencing fallout from a broader industry trend? Have you made up ground in relation to your nearest competitors, or are they edging ahead?


Make better business decisions

Social media insights bring advantages that go beyond social media strategy itself. With the improved insight into your market, your audience, and your competitors, you can make better business decisions about sales, cross-channel marketing, and product development.


What should you look for in social media competitive analysis tools?

  1. Choose a tool that allows you to track KPIs and metrics, so that you can measure your improvement in share of voice and brand reputation.

  2. Ensure it can integrate multiple channels so you can connect with a range of audiences and gain a complete understanding of your social media positioning.

  3. Pick a tool that allows you to analyze your brand head to head against that of a competitor.


Social media competitive analysis takes social media listening to the next level


Moving from social listening to social media competitive analysis is a step change for your competitor analysis. It delivers deep, actionable insights into customer preferences, your social media performance, and the competitive landscape and your position within it, going beyond the capabilities of social listening or social monitoring tools.


What Affogata can deliver for social media competitive intelligence

  • Compare your success with that of the competition to quantify your and your competitors’ brand reputation, understand your performance in context, and measure your share of voice.

  • Discover which people are the ones talking the most about your brand on social media, and what their true sentiment is towards your brand.

  • Integrate with most social media platforms, going beyond the usual suspects to include Reddit, Pinterest, Discord, and Vanilla Forums for specialist audiences.

  • Surface the leading keywords and topics that engage your audience, instead of working to discover search terms and enter and define them yourself.

  • Seek out your next influencers, understand the conversations they lead, and create targeted campaigns for each slice of the audience.

  • Carry out multiple tasks in one tool: optimize your social media strategy, improve social media engagement, handle brand reputation management, and enable crisis prevention.

  • Spread insights across the organization to guide your marketing, sales, customer service, and product development teams.

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