Social Media Competitive Analysis Playbook (Free Template Included)

| Competitive Analysis | Adina Jipa

Wondering how to perform a social media competitive analysis? Looking for a free template where to collect competitors' data and stats?

In this article, I'm going to share with you a step-by-step guide on how to create a social media competitive analysis and a template that will make easier to create benchmarks for your industry - free to download, no email required.

Sit back and relax, it is going to be worth your while :)

In a hurry? Download our free social media competitive analysis template.

Social media competitive analysis template

6 steps to create a social media competitive analysis

  1. Know your competition
  2. Narrow down to top 5 competitors
  3. Come up with precise competitive analysis goals
  4. Choose the social media platforms
  5. Collect stats and data
    1. Audience metrics
    2. Content metrics
    3. Engagement metrics
    4. Paid media stats
    5. Hashtag analysis
  6. Create an actionable plan from your analysis

#1. Know your competition

The first step is identifying your competition. And you should not stop at knowing them; dig deep to know the major platforms they use.

You could simply google your completion through their various niches. Start by typing the industry-based keywords and search for competitors. Once you identify one competitors search by using keywords like 'alternative to competitor x'.

If you still focus on the local presence, start by searching for regional competition. The best approach is to start the search on the platform you are working with. If you mainly working on Amazon, that is where your search should begin.

When you get search results, group your competitors using the following two criteria:

  • Indirect or direct competitors. It helps you know the competitors you are fighting with for the same audience as well those who indirectly affect your customer base and sell complementary services. Take our case for example - we could consider Later an indirect competitor because they have an Instagram analytics feature while scheduling is their core feature. However, when we compare feature by feature, we are looking at competitors like RivalIq or Quintly.
  • The level of competition. Are they local, regional, national or global competitors? It will not make much sense of running a local pizza joint and doing an analysis for McDonald’s. You will end up with not much data and waste precious time and resources.

How to group your competitors

#2. Narrow down to the top 5 competitors

Your focus should be on those who are in one way or another outperforming your business. To successfully identify these top competitors, use these approaches:

  • Buyer persona: choose the competitors with the same buyer persona as you have.  It helps you focus on the market gap.
  • Services offered: look at what type of services they are offering.
  • Business size: choose between - small, medium or large businesses. Search for the customer reach, assets, human resource and any other parameter to help you know how big your competitor’s brand is.
  • Locations where businesses are operating. If they are selling physical goods, see where they are located. If they are selling online and they're running the business from different places, understand if it's reasonable to expand your business too. Your analysis should be able to answer these questions. It gives you an idea of where you can expand your business to.

Once you know who your competitors are, you can put them all into our handy template. This spreadsheet be your place where you'll store all of your monthly or quarterly data.

How to choose your top 5 competitors

#3. Come up with precise competitive analysis goals

Guide your social media analysis by a set of goals. It helps you steer your analysis to the right direction and get meaningful information at the end of the day. Here are some ideas for your social media goals:

  • Improve the content strategy

You should know what you are doing right, and what you are not. Get insights into your weak areas on the content strategy.

  • Identify suitable ideas for the next campaigns

The oncoming festive season is your time to make great deals. Start looking for ways to amplify your performance and win more customers.

  • Competitors’ growth versus yours

How are you faring on market growth? Does the competition outgrow you? Find out what they are doing to keep growing. Implement a digital strategy to maintain a sustainable growth.

You are looking to establish the level of audience engagement your competition has achieved or even hit new heights. It is alright if they are doing way better than you are. Learn their tricks and work your way up.

  • Find out the type of content that adequately engages the audience

When it comes social media competitive analysis, the engagement on social media should be one of your primary goals. You want to stay ahead of the competition and learning the perfect way to engage audiences is a crucial aspect.

Knowing your social media needs defines the summary of your analysis and shapes your actions.

#4. Choose the social media platforms

Ok, you have a list of top 5 competitors. Wondering what you should do next?

Choose the channels you'll be monitoring. Focus your analysis on what kind of platforms your competition is using to tap into audiences. Finding the platforms is one thing, but you should know why they primarily rely on those platforms. Establish whether your target audiences use such platforms and work on a plan to boost your presence on them.

In your social media competitive analysis template, you'll have different tabs dedicated to each social media channel. Write down your competitors' name, handle or username as well as a link to their profile.

Additionally, add the bio description where you can extract their hashtags or interests by analyzing top keywords used. Interpreting the texts gives you insights for the future social media campaigns, words you could use in your communication or it defines the topic of interests which are great for the paid campaigns.

Social media competitive analysis template

Our spreadsheet includes sections for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Extend your analysis, and choose any social networks you’d prefer. You’ll likely notice most brands in your industry have three or four main platforms in common.

#5. Collect data and stats

What metrics are you looking for? They will help you focus on the important areas and increase the probability of achieving your goals. In this case, here are some metrics you should focus on:

A. Audience metrics

Are your competitors growing their audience quicker than you? It is recommended to get down to the exact number of followers and fans. It gives you the motivation to work your way up to surpass the competition’s audience figures. This template has different tabs for each platform where you can add the total numbers.

B. Content metrics

How many posts per day your competitors are publishing on social media? Focus on the types of content they post, their frequency and time of posting. You can learn a thing or two on what kind of posts the audiences are looking for and the timing to post for maximum engagement.

C. Engagement metrics

How engaged is the audience on Facebook vs. Instagram vs. Twitter? You can measure the engagement on social media with the help of a benchmarking tool which offers stats and data for the:

  • total engagement
  • average engagement
  • engagement rate/post
  • engagement rate/page or profile
  • engagement evolution

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter competitors analysis template

👉 Use Socialinsider’s competitor reports to make this process much easier:

D. Paid media stats

None of the social network gives you insights into competitors' paid campaigns. However there two option to search your competitors ads on Facebook:

  • Use Facebook’s “Info and Ads” tool

Facebook tries to increase transparency and this year they released a tool called 'Info and Ads'. With this tool you can mainly view the active ads that your competitors are running.

How to search your competitors ads on Facebook

Other tools to spy on your competitor’s Facebook ads are:

All of the above tools have database with ads where you search through categories and gives you competitive advantage on design or copy.

  • Use a benchmark tool which uncover your competitors' boosted content

Keep tabs on your social media competitors' activity with a tool like Socialinsider which shows you what type of content your competitors are boosting and how often.

Boosted content - Socialinsider dashboard

E. Hashtag analysis

Are they using branded or non-branded hashtags across their  social media platforms? Dig in to understand why they use the certain kind of tags and whether they are getting good results out of them.

Once you have all the information from your social media analysis research, make sure you add that data to your spreadsheet.

#6. Create an actionable plan from your analysis

This is where the real action begins. You get to work on your analysis as you build it from down up, sideways, horizontally as well vertically.

Take keen attention on the insights you draw from your research and analysis. Whatever you do, do not lose sight of your set goals. Set things in motion using whatever you have learned from the competitors research.

Before finishing your analysis and sending it to managers, follow these steps:

Final thought

It is not rocket science to be a social media marketing guru or make your brand an overnight success story. As long as you follow this social media competitive analysis template, the rest will be easy.

Take time to reorganize your social media analysis, and for sure you will be flying with the eagles. Importantly, keep track of your performance, and effect changes when and where necessary.

Your turn. How do you describe the process of competitors' research?

Adina Jipa

Adina Jipa

Making successful mistakes as a co-founder @socialinsider. I love writing about social media strategies, psychology & consumer behavior.

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