Do you know what your business competitors are up to on social media?
One of my favourite things to do when planning a new social media campaign or starting a whole new account is to review what competitors are doing. You don’t have to start from scratch, you can learn a lot about your target audience by studying the kinds of posts they are engaging with on your competitor’s social accounts.
2-3 competitors, but don’t be too narrow in who you look at.
Do they use every platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) or do they limit themselves to one or two? Why might they have chosen those particular platforms? Do they use the same platforms as you?
It may not be necessary to use every platform. Especially if your ideal client doesn’t use that platform or don’t have the time to put into it. Better to do 2-3 platforms really well than be spread too thin on 5-6.
A social media account that gets a post once every three months is a bit underwhelming. If a page visitor sees a largely inactive social media page, there are consequences. You lose a bit of credibility and building trust in your brand online these days is so much about having an active presence online.
Do you notice that their posts appear at a similar time of day? Are they morning, afternoon or evening posters? What’s the engagement like across different time periods?
If you study the levels of engagement with the times they post, you may be able to work out when your target audience is online.
Do they videos, text only, links, GIFs, other people’s content? What levels of engagement does each receive? What works for them?
What topics do they cover? What percentage is self-promotional and what percentage is value adding for your visitor?
Hashtag mining from your competitor is a great way to zero in on the best hashtags for you. Hashtags are used primarily on Instagram, Twitter, and to a lesser extent on Facebook. Copy down the ones they use, where relevant, and test them on your posts for yourself.
We’ve talked about tone before, what’s the tone of their posts? Is it casual, formal, salesy, etc?
Don’t panic about followers. Some may have a few hundred or many thousands of followers. A few years ago, it was not uncommon to come across pages who would buy followers. This is a practice where, for a fee, fake accounts (spam accounts) will follow your page, so it looks like you’re popular. This is a waste of money, in my opinion. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, so long as they’re engaged with what you’re posting (ie. clicking links, liking, commenting).
I’ve mentioned it a few times throughout this post – engagement. Although not the indicator of total success, ultimately, success on social media is largely measured in clicked links, page likes, post likes and comments.
Now that you have collected all this priceless knowledge from your competitors, it’s time to decide what to do with your new found knowledge. Social media is always always something you will have to test for yourself. If you were to copy your competitor’s tactics at every step, you would not get the same outcomes because you’re still ultimately a different business. But allowing your competitors to guide your initial approach is valuable. Use it as a starting point and use your analytical tools (provided by most social media platforms, or Google analytics is also helpful) to decide on what works for you and give the best engagement.
Naomi oversees Technology Matters’ comprehensive social media packages, giving clients the lead in social media and communications.
She doesn’t just post cat videos and memes, either – she’s dedicated to research and reporting, and a hell of a writer.