How to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Competitive Intelligence
Competitive Analysis Benchmarking How-To Guides

How to Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Competitive Intelligence

If you want to stay ahead of the competition, let competitive intelligence do the heavy lifting. Check out our guide to learn how to do it.

Andreea Udescu
Andreea Udescu
Table of Contents

Building a strong, meaningful presence on social media is no easy feat in today’s fiercely competitive digital space. You have to constantly adapt to market changes, keep an eye on the latest trends, and spy on your competition 24/7. It takes a lot of work to make it happen.

The truth is, marketing success is a marathon, not a sprint. And only the best tactics can get you to the finish line.

When it comes to competitive intelligence, the key is to invest in top-performing tools that will help you keep a close eye on your competitors and obtain valuable insights. With the right tools in hand, the next step is to leverage the insights you get to stay ahead of the curve.

Keep on reading to find out what competitive intelligence is, what it can do for you and your brand and how to do it right. But first, let’s start with some definitions.

Competitive intelligence research guide

1. What is competitive intelligence?
2. What makes competitive intelligence so crucial?

3. Master competitive intelligence with Socialinsider.

1. What is competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is the process of gathering data from your competitors' activity to gain actionable insights into their strategies.

Competitive intel also looks at everything from customer behavior to community management.

By monitoring your competitors' activity, you can learn about their strong suits and weak points and identify opportunities to refine your own marketing efforts.

Competitive intelligence is often mistaken for competitor analysis, but it is more than that.

By doing competitive intelligence research, you don’t only get raw data that shows how your competition is performing, but you also get strategic, contextual insights.

competitive intelligence definition

2. What makes competitive intelligence so crucial?

Competitive intelligence is incredibly useful for knowing where you stand. In fact, it’s so useful, that 90% of Fortune 500 companies leverage competitive intelligence to gain an edge over their competition.

Long gone are the days when businesses were strictly local (and land-based) and you had a very clear idea of what your competitors are and what they’re doing at all times.

Now you have to be constantly on the lookout for competitive intel and use it to stay ahead of the game. Without further ado, let’s explore some of the benefits of competitive intelligence.

  • It gives you real data to act upon.

One of the most harmful things you can do for your business is to make decisions based on guesses or assumptions. Luckily, with the help of comparative intelligence, you don’t have to.

Competitive intel gives you real-time insights by tracking every move your competition makes and measuring its impact.

As an advanced social media analytics and reporting tool, Socialinsider lets you spy on your competitors’ social media data and visualize this data using charts, graphs and maps so that it’s easier to understand and share.  

But more on this later.

  • It answers questions you didn’t even know you had.

Depending on how long you’ve been in the business, you might have a smaller or larger number of questions about your competition. (pro tip: the more you have, the better!)

The magic of  competitive intelligence is that it provides answers to questions you didn’t even think to ask. And that's a great thing, because it widens your horizons and encourages you to ask more questions going forward.

Especially with the help of automated reporting, key insights are being pushed to you, instead of you needing to pull it out or sift through ridiculous amounts of data to get what you need.

  • It helps you find gaps in the market.

Another benefit of competitive intelligence is that it helps you identify gaps in the market. By monitoring your competitors' activity, you can identify areas where they are not meeting the needs of their customers.

This information can then be used to develop new products or services that satisfy unmet customer needs.

  • It benefits the company as a whole, across multiple teams.

Competitive intelligence and benchmarking don’t just serve the marketing team. They’re just as relevant for the rest of sales, dev and product teams.

Any one of these teams can tap into competitive intelligence to update, fix and improve their internal processes.

3. Master competitive intelligence on social media with Socialinsider

The right competitive intelligence tools will get from point A to point B without any confusing detours and unnecessary stops. When it comes to social media, Socialinsider is your most reliable option.

With Socialinsider, you can have a bird’s eye view of your competitors’ activity on social media at all points in time. This tool allows you to have a micro or macro approach to competitive intelligence, depending on your needs.

  • Macro level - benchmarks

If you’re adopting the macro strategy, then you’re most likely interested in general competitive insights across a longer time span. Here’s where the Benchmarks feature from Socialinsider comes in handy.

Getting competitive intel is as easy as grouping the competitors’ profiles into projects to create social media benchmarks.

cross channel benchmark socialinsider

Inside the Benchmarks section, you see comparative data across different platforms, brands, or for each individual social media channel. All three options can be instrumental in understanding how you stack against your competition.

If your brand is only (or mostly) active on one single platform, you can select that specific platform from the navigation bar and see competitive data that is exclusively relevant for it.

instagram overview

Inside the profile summary, you can see and compare a lot of stats at a glance - including followers, engagement and reach.

The charts included in this dashboard also help you quickly see which brand is performing better in terms of engagement, follower count, average posts per day and more.

You can also see the top 3 best-performing posts from each profile, ranked by engagement.

top 3 posts

In terms of historical data for competitive insights, you can go as far back as 12 months with the Strategy price plan or just 6 months with the Analytics and Competitors plans.

To maximize the time range of your Historical Posts Data, you can choose the Enterprise pricing plan.

  • Micro level - campaigns

There will be times when you need topical, on-the-spot insights about your competitors. For that type of situation, you have the Strategy section inside the Socialinsider app.

The Strategy feature is, if you ask me, a very underrated tool that can provide a lot of value.

As useful as this feature can be for measuring the performance of your own social media campaigns, it's even more valuable for analyzing the performance of your competition's social media campaigns and comparing it with your own.

campaign details strategy socialinsider

Campaign measurement insights cover all the important social media metrics, including engagement, impressions, reach and so on.

It also helps you visualize the top-performing hashtags and the post distribution for all profiles tracked in a specific campaign.

campaign details hashtags and post distribution socialinsider

Pro tip: For an extra dose of competitive intelligence, check out and download our 2023 social media industry reports, where we break down the current social media scene by key metrics and industry.

See how your own industry as a whole is performing during every quarter and compare your findings with your own analytics data.

Final thoughts

If you're not already tapping into competitive intelligence, this is your cue to start. Look for patterns in your competitors' strategy and focus on the most important metric such as engagement rates, and follower growth.

Then use your insights, as well as the tips and tricks outlined in this article, to get started and stay ahead of the curve.

And remember: competitive intelligence is a constant practice. It's not enough to collect data once; you need to repeat this process regularly to get the results you want.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What the 3 main sources of competitive intelligence?

The main sources for competitive intelligence data is your competitors' websites, their social media profiles and their customer reviews.

2. Why is competitive intelligence important?

Competititve intelligence is important because it enables you to have an in-depth understanding of your competition and your market, set accurate benchmarks and make informed decisions based on data.

3. What aspects should competitive intelligence focus on?

Your process of gathering competitive intelligence should cover brand positioning, pricing, community management, just to name a few.

Andreea Udescu

Andreea Udescu

Content writer @ Socialinsider with 7 years of experience in digital marketing. When I’m not writing, I like to go on coffee dates with friends, dabble in poetry and fill my house with flowers.

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