← Back to Blog

Spy on Competitors: Social Media Competitive Analysis in 10 Easy Steps

Competitive Analysis


Spy on Competitors: Social Media Competitive Analysis in 10 Easy Steps

Social media competitive analysis is an important aspect for every social media manager eager to implement successful strategies.

There is a lot that you can learn from your competitors.

You’ll find out what they’re doing differently to stay ahead of the game and how your results compare.

Before conducting this analysis, you need to understand the competitiveness of your business environment and identify your digital strategy's potential.

Social media competitive analysis aims at systematically reviewing information about your competitor’s products, production methods and costs, financial status, design, marketing strategy and development activities.

It also looks into a company’s strengths and weaknesses. With this analysis, you will be able to tell where your social media strategy stands and what you could do to get more leads.

Are you better than your competitors at social media?

Table of contents

  1. What is a social media competitive analysis?

  2. What is the main goal of conducting a social media competitive analysis?

  3. What are the tools and techniques of competitive analysis?

  4. How do you do a social media competitive analysis?

  1. How do you write a competitive analysis report?

What is a social media competitive analysis?

A competitive analysis is a way to spy on your competitors’ activity and results in order to understand what their strengths are and how you stack up.

With the help of analytics tools, you’ll get data on competitor organic posts, ads, or stories.

You’ll learn:

  • How they craft content
  • How much engagement each type of content receives
  • What formats they use in their content
  • What types of posts they use more frequently
  • How many people comment on their posts and which are the most popular posts
  • How long or short are the captions
  • What messages do they address

What is the main goal of conducting a social media competitive analysis?

Competitor analysis give marketers the opportunity to not only look outwards, to understand the competition’s strong suits, but also inwards, towards your own brand.

By looking at competitor social strategies, you can find out more insights on your common audiences and understand what performance metrics you need to improve.

It will answer some of these main questions:

  • Is my social media effort good enough?
  • Am I better than my competitors on social media?
  • Could I be getting better results?
  • Have I identified all of my potential audiences?
  • What else could I be doing?

What are the tools and techniques of competitive analysis?

There are a number of dedicated analytics tools that can offer data on competitor performance and help you transcribe those numbers into presentation-ready reports.

Socialinsider, for example, prides itself with on-point data that can help you quickly understand what take-aways you need to gather, without getting lost in numbers and stats.

As a bonus, you get access to quick side-by-side comparisons between profiles, be it two competitor profiles, or your profile and your competitor’s.

This cuts down the analysis process and helps you understand the main strategy differences on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Competitor campaign stats

But you can also perform cross platform analysis on your campaigns, and compare them to similar campaigns of your rivals.

For example, take Christmas campaigns. You gather all of your Christmas posts, as well as your competitors’ Christmas posts in a campaign and stack them up against each other.

Here is a list of great competitive analysis tools to get you started!

How do you do a social media competitive analysis?

So it all sounds great in theory, and you already have your analysis tools in hand. But where do you start?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve made a short to-do list to guide you along the way. All you need to do is follow these 10 steps and tick them off as your analysis advances.

Step 1: Identify your top competitors

Have you identified your top 5 competitors yet?

Before you conduct a social media competitive analysis, it is important that you identify those brands that align with your business, meaning competitors.

There is no need to compare yourself with companies like Apple or Coca Cola unless you are also one of these globally recognized brands.

The objectives of such large companies are totally different from yours, especially if your business is smaller. Besides, as well-known brands, they do not have to work as hard to find an audience.

Your task here is to find companies that provide similar products or services to yours.

It’s all about competitors that are performing close or even better than you, and whose audiences intersect with your targets, whether you are an international, national or local company.

If you are having trouble identifying your top competitors, Google is a useful resource. You can simply Google the type of product or service you offer and a few of your top competitors will show up in the SERPs.

Once you have identified them analyze and compare the quality of their products and services with yours, as well as the methods they use for promotion purposes.

This will help you identify what opportunities can help you outperform your rivals.

Step 2: Define the competitive goals and KPIs

Before starting your social media competitive analysis, you need to define your goals.

Your analysis needs to serve a purpose and offer some answers. Digging through data without a clear purpose creates a lot of confusion and waste of time.

Ask yourself what you need to know:

  • Improve social posts messages
  • Focus efforts on the right social media platform
  • Optimize paid social media
  • Improve organic reach

Deciding on what you want to achieve from this exercise makes it easier for you to measure and evaluate your results.

Step 3: Choose the social networks you want to monitor

Once you have identified your top competitors, try to find out on which platforms they’re the most active.

Particularly, search for their profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even YouTube and TikTok.

Also, do not forget to take note of any active presence on lesser popular social sites that you see referenced.

You never know where your audience might be without a bit of research.

Campaign posts stats

Step 4: Follow how performance on social networks grows over time

Once you have chosen several social networks, you will need to dig a little deeper to understand how each competitor engages and grows their networks. To do this, you will need to track some specific metrics like:

Profile metrics

  • How many followers do they have?
  • What is the average number of posts they publish per week?
  • Where are they more active?
  • How many likes, shares, comments or retweets does each post receive?

Content metrics

  • What type of content do they share?
  • How many posts do they boost?
  • How many ads to the run?
  • Do they use live videos?
  • What is the image post to video post ratio?
  • Do they use other social network services like TikTok?

Brand metrics

  • What tone of voice do they use on their profile updates?
  • What type of issues do they address on their profile?
  • How well do their followers interact with these posts?
  • What branding methods do they apply

The metrics you need to track depends on your company’s social media goals.

For instance, if you want to grow your brand, you might want to pay attention to the number of followers a competitor has since your results are highly likely to be similar to theirs.

You can use analytics tools for content inspiration and to get a full view of a competitor’s digital strategy.

Competitor top post

Step 5: Check out their content strategy

A well-defined content strategy is an important aspect of social media audience.

People are not interested in generalized content, that does not serve a purpose or answer one of their needs.

Just like you, your competitors are always striving to provide relevant and engaging content.

Which is why you need to know if they’re doing better than you, and if their content strategy includes anything you might have overlooked.

Are they providing their audience with curated, original, promotional, or educational/ knowledge content? What type of content do they post? Is it text, photos, links or videos?

Pay attention to:

  • messages
  • format
  • caption
  • hashtags
  • campaigns

Finally, check to see how often they post on social media - daily or weekly. This will come in handy when you need to make decisions on your own content calendar.

Competitor metrics

Step 6: Check out their engagement metrics

It is only through engagement rates that you can identify growth opportunities, an important aspect of social media success.

To find out how your competitors perform, you need to follow these aspects:

  • Number of the posts they publish
  • Number of replies
  • Number of likes
  • Response time
  • How they respond to clients

This means you need to keep an eye on the following metrics:

  • Profile engagement and engagement rate
  • Post engagement and engagement rate
  • Boosted posts engagement
  • Engagement evolution (day to day or month to month)
  • Post types ranked by engagement
  • Hashtag engagement
  • Likes, Comments, Shares

Step 7: Understand how people engage with their content

Depending on how thorough you want to be, you can choose to analyze 10 random posts or track a month’s worth of data.

Take a note of how many likes, comments, shares or retweets each post gets and obtain an average for each engagement.

Competitor posts

Step 8: See when people are active on the social networks

Social media provides a good opportunity to amplify your brand awareness.

Still, it is not enough to just post content whenever you feel like it. Posting dedicated, well-research content that brings value to your customers, at specific timings, is the way to go.

Identifying when the most users are active in social networks is crucial as it tells you that's the time to connect with them. This way, it increases your chances of reaching highly targeted consumers in large numbers.

Step 9: Understand their paid media campaigns

One of the last elements to consider when conducting a social media competitive analysis is paid media.

While it might be impossible to find the actual amount your competitors spend on paid media campaigns, there are a few ways to find out if they are spending money to acquire new followers.

The first thing that you can do is to browse their social pages and look for any sponsored ads on each platform individually.

If they appear under the “Who to follow” column on the left side of your Twitter feed, it simply means that they are paying to get more twitter followers.

And while you can't get data on competitor ads campaigns, you can use analytics to identify boosted posts and see how they perform.

Boosted posts data

Look at engagement, the number of boosted post, the ratio between boosted posts and regular posts, and you'll get a glimpse into their strategy.

Step 10: Use proper tools for social media competitive analysis

Most social media managers are always looking for ways in which they can automate the process of competitive analysis and reports.

Monitoring and assessing social media analytics is crucial to the failure or success of your company, but it’s also important to choose the right tool for you.

Do you need to report to clients? If so, you should pick a tool that focuses on strong reporting and save you time.

Do you oversee a multi-market brand across multiple markets? Then you’d need a tool that offers an overview of your entire brand (and your competitor brands) across platforms.

The goal is to understand what you need to automate and what features you need to work with.

Find the right tool that offers all the metrics that are relevant to you, and can cover all the social platforms on which your brand is present.

How do you write a competitive analysis report?

Using competitive analysis templates and going about these reports manually might work once or twice, but you’ll quickly learn that it requires a lot of time.

It can be done, by following and writing down:

  • Audience metrics
  • Content metrics
  • Engagement metrics
  • Paid media stats
  • Hashtag analysis

However, these are stats you can quickly receive up-front and in a presentation-ready form with analytics tools.

You can also have side-by side comparisons between your brand’s profile and the competition, and simply download the data.

❗️To get a step-by-step on your social media competitive analysis report follow this guide with a free template included 👇

Final thought

Clear objective and a bit of spy work can go a long way. The key to successful social media is in the data, and it’s all right in front of you.

All you need is a little digging and some trusted tools.

Your turn. How do you perform a social media analysis? What tools do you use? What metrics do you follow?

Report and analyze social media performance for multiple business profiles from one dashboard with Socialinsider!

Create social media benchmarks for your clients or industry, generate .pdf or .ppt reports, and automatically send them to clients.

Related articles:

Teodora Lozan

Teodora Lozan

SaaS Marketer @ Socialinsider

I like to let curiosity lead the way both professionally and personally. In love with stories and facts, so I always try to get the best of both worlds.

Spy on Competitors: Social Media Competitive Analysis in 10 Easy Steps