How to Research your Competition

Mark Twain once said “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” Nothing proves this old adage more than the invention on the internet. As soon as you look up your business’s industry or start researching a new idea, you’ll most likely find that your idea has already been done a hundred times before you, but don’t let that dissuade you. Instead, let’s run through a few ways you can use your competitors as benchmarks to research the social media space and what you should be posting to succeed. Besides, your competitor’s existence is living proof your business or idea is viable.

As usual, we’ll go platform by platform starting with Instagram. As you most likely already know, Instagram is the go-to platform for posting engaging multimedia that’s typically categorized by hashtag or location. While Instagram recently opened up their search to work for all words in a post, hashtags are still extremely popular, and many users follow topics by following the use of its hashtag. So let’s start by searching via hashtag. Look through your business’s inventory and look for hashtags that correspond with the brands you carry. A lot of times, the brand name itself is an extremely popular hashtag. After searching, you’ll find a list of the most popular recent posts for that tag. But what can you take away from this experience? Pay attention to the type of content being posted, the age and gender of their followers, and other hashtags used to boost organic reach.

That’s a lot of information that you can use to further extend the reach of your own posts.

Next, let’s head over to Facebook, which actually has a native analytics tab for you to continuously watch your competitors. Go to your Facebook page and click Insights to visit the Insights Overview page. Scroll down and you’ll see the Pages to Watch shelf. Here you can add competitors as you’d like, so you can compare your total followers, weekly follower gains, weekly post rate, and recent engagement. It’s really informative to your strategy to watch your page growth in relation to your competitors.

Now, let’s dive into YouTube and the different metrics you want to watch out for there. Being a video-on-demand platform, and the second largest search engine, YouTube prioritizes competing videos via algorithms based on hundreds of variables like keyword prevalence, location-based cues, video duration, and total watch time. Like Instagram, go ahead and search your industry and a common secondary keyword like review or first impressions. You’ll very quickly see trends along the top-ranking videos, like a common video duration, other highly used keywords, or a new product that viewers seem to be flocking to. Try to follow these trends, but most importantly, prepare for the future and apply these techniques to new products as soon as you get your hands on them, so you can be the first to YouTube about them, giving you better visibility over your competition.

Now I want to touch on some other options if you’re already using these platforms to their fullest extent, or if you want all your data in one place. There are dozens of free or low-cost third-party software solutions that specialize in arming you with the data you need to not only track competitors across multiple platforms at once, but also make data-driven decisions to meet your KPIs.

There is no singular option that stands out as the best; they instead shine the brightest when used together to track different metrics. BuzzSumo for example, provides content analysis information and can help you determine which topics are performing the best based off real-time data. Meanwhile SocialRank, another web-based tool, is more focused on audience analytics and the performance of social pages as a whole.

By leveraging some of these free and paid techniques, you’ll gain a better understanding of your competitors and what they’re posting to succeed on social, so you can elevate your existing strategy and as a result, your social media presence.

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