What is a social media competitive analysis and why does my small business need one?

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What is a social media competitive analysis and why does my small business need one?

What is a Social Media Competitive Analysis & why do small businesses need them?

A Social Media Competitive Analysis is the use of social listening to basically spy on your competitors.


It’s not really like super sleuthing, but it is the ability to review what your top competitors are doing online. It’ll help you gage their strengths and weaknesses, so  you’ll have the chance to uncover opportunities and threats. The analysis also helps you identify baselines, benchmarks and targets for your own social media program. You’ll take a look at whether you’re competitors are active online, how often they’re posting and engaging, the methods they’re using to communicate (Blogs, Vlogs, Videos, Images) and whether their audience is receptive.

Why do we want to look at competitors?
In short, we want to see what they’re up to. We don’t want to imitate or duplicate, but by seeing what they’re doing (or not) it could trigger inspiration for our own social media programs. Plus it helps us determine baselines and benchmarks for our own social media plans and strategies.

Where can I start with my Social Media Competitive Analysis?

Step One: Get set up.

Fire up the old excel or scroll to the bottom of this page to find one all ready for you over on Google Sheets. Or if you have the budget, consider using something like TrueSocialMetrics or SproutSocial to build this report automatically, rather than manually.

Step Two: Identify your top 5 competitors

These should be serious competitors. (Think Coca-Cola and Pepsi.)

Step Three: Find them online.

Capture their handles and URLs across all sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, g+, blogs etc.) This step can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it to track.

Step Four: Gather their social media data

  • Vanity Metrics (Likes, Followers, Fans etc.)
  • Amplification Rate (The rate at which your followers take your content and share it through their network.)
  • Conversation Rate (Conversation Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
  • Applause Rate (Applause Rate = # of Favorite Clicks Per Post)

As well as any other anecdotal, or “small data” that may be useful. For example, when you’re digging around on their website you may notice that when you hop back onto social sites that all-of-a-sudden there are ads for their business – that’s called retargeting. That means that they’ve got tracking pixels (code) installed on their website so that they can retarget website visitors on social media sites. (Pretty smart, eh?)

Step Five: SWOT analysis

Look at their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. For example, perhaps their really great at creating images that get their audience sharing, commenting and liking. But they’re not posting consistently. That could be an opportunity for you!

How often do we update our Social media Competitive Analysis?
If you can, try to update your Social Media Competitive Analysis once every quarter. The most labour intensive part is the set up, so you should be able to swiftly move through updating numbers. But make sure you keep adding to the report and maintain old numbers so you can properly track growth. By capturing this information, you’ll see where your competitors may be excelling or failing online – specifically unearthing opportunities for your company to fill the gaps!

To save time and help you get going, here’s an example Social Media Competitive Analysis.

Source: Occam’s Razor

Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay, BA ADdPR BnC
Kat Macaulay is a Marketing Strategist, Writer + Speaker known for her no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything. Using data insights, she helps organizations market more effectively to get results that matter. She's also a high-scoring instructor at Mount Royal University, where she teaches Social Media Analytics and Google Analytics + Marketing Measurement. She holds certifications from Google, as well as Facebook and is currently working toward a specialization in Marketing Analytics and a certificate in Data Science from IBM. When she’s not busy juggling kids, volunteering + work, she’s busy planning her retirement to Cape Breton.