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What Is a Competitive Analysis and How To Conduct One

Madisyn MacMillan
September 2, 2022
Last Updated On
November 10, 2023
competitive analysis blog header

It’s official: understanding your competitor's marketing tactics, social strategies and product or service releases is almost as important as your grasp on your own. Why is that? Because knowing your competition means gaining additional insights into what is working and occasionally what is not. 

A social media competitive analysis is a perfect vessel to gather actionable Competitive Insights for your team, and we’ll show you exactly how to do one.

What Is a Competitive Analysis?

A competitive analysis is a process of collecting data on your competitors’ services and similar products. This aims to identify opportunities for your brand in terms of tactics your competition may be using, that you aren’t and vice versa. The best thing about a competitor analysis is that they aren’t limited to just physical products and services. 

A great opportunity to use analysis is for social media and social presence. A social media competitive analysis gives insight into how your competitors perform and behave on various social platforms. This can give major insights into how successful certain marketing tactics can be for brands in your niche without you actively trying them first.

Why Is a Competitive Analysis Important?

As all social media managers know, it can be extremely easy to fall into a comfortable routine regarding your content calendar. A competitive analysis pushes you out of that comfort zone to showcase what other brands in your niche are doing, how it’s working for them and how it could also work for you. These analyses are also great for catching industry trends in the early stages. 

As mentioned previously, the point of an analysis is to see what your competition is doing right and how you can emulate that with your own brand's unique spin. It’s a great way to stay in touch with what is going on in your niche and identify your brand's strengths and weaknesses.

Discover Industry Trends 

Conducting a competitive analysis will help you identify industry trends within your niche. Whether or not these are right for your brand, developing an understanding of social media trends gives you a better knowledge of your industry and how these trends shape your business. 

Set Industry Benchmarks 

Identifying which social media benchmarks larger and smaller competitors reach will help you define your own. This gives you an idea of how smaller brands are newly entering your industry while looking at larger brands helps your team identify opportunities for growth and how you can scale your social strategy as your business grows. 

Find Opportunities To Enhance Your Strategy

Overall, performing a competitive analysis is crucial to discover new opportunities and preventing your social media strategy — and presence — from going stale. While we don’t recommend directly copying your competitors’ creative assets, looking at how they optimize their profiles using social media SEO, which products they promote and which social channels they show up on. 

What To Include in Your Competitive Analysis

So, how do you set competitive benchmarks? In order to ensure your analysis is productive, it’s important to identify what exactly you want to know and compare. While this can be completely unique depending on what your brand needs, here are some examples of things you may want to consider:

Four P’s 

Once you’ve identified which competitors to look at, you should compare the four P’s — these are:

  • Price: How much do your competitors charge for similar products or services? 
  • Promotion: How do they promote their brand and products on social media? 
  • Place: Which social media platforms do they use to promote campaigns? Which influencers do they partner with?
  • Product: Which products and services do they share on social media? 

Obviously, pricing will only apply if you’re looking to compare a product or service, but it is one of the most important aspects to cover in an analysis. Pricing is one of the main factors differentiating the same product by different brands. While noting your competitor's pricing may not lead to a shift in yours, it is good to know what the competition thinks your product or service is worth and whether customers are still willing to buy it. 

Promotion is important to see how your competitors show up on social media. Place ties into this as well, as it’s important to identify which platforms your competitors utilize — this is vital since your competitors should have a similar target demographic and will help you determine where you should aim to reach your audience. Looking at which products they promote on social media will help you tailor your campaigns and collaborate with the wider marketing team on which products or services you should share on social. 

Content Strategy

Having a social media content strategy to compare notes with can be extremely beneficial for better understanding your market. While you’ll never have direct access to your competitor's content strategy, you can note the different types of content they post, and how often. Successful brands often have a healthy mix of promotion, products and UGC to keep their feed interesting. It's also beneficial to conduct an SEO analysis of their social content — this can include what tags they use in their profile and description, what social features they use, and which on-site content they share on their social channels.

Social Presence

Just posting on social media isn’t enough anymore, so noticing your competitors’ social presence is important. By this, we mean understanding how they interact with users and consumers and how much of the brand's true personality shines through. Does the competition make an effort to show more behind-the-scenes content or seek out interaction with customers? These are things you’ll want to take note of and possibly emulate.

Marketing

Taking note of your competitor's content marketing strategy beyond just social media is key when it comes to understanding what works. Look into their advertising and promotion to see if there are any key differences between your strategies and if there are any opportunities that would work well in your marketing strategy mix. 

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are an amazing and authentic way to see how consumers react to a brand and its products. By including this step in your competitive analysis, it will be easy for you to identify what consumers are looking for and if there are any possible gaps you can fill. Five-star reviews can show you what you should be doing, and one-star reviews can show you what you can do.

The best part of performing your research is that you can adjust the scope of what you’re looking for whenever you want. If you find the above metrics aren’t giving you the information you want, adjust accordingly.

How To Do a Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis’ can often be made out to be more complicated than it needs to be. Because of this, we’ve broken the process down into seven simple steps: 

1. Determine What You Want To Compare

The first step of a competitive analysis is to identify what exactly it is you want to compare. You likely want to perform an analysis for a couple of different reasons. The first is that you are developing and launching something new. The second is that your performance is stagnant. And the third is that your performance is trending downward. 

When it comes to what you want to compare, it can be a product, a service, or even a social media channel or presence.

2. Pinpoint Your Competition

If your brand is already thinking about being competitive or performing an analysis, it’s highly likely you already know who your competitors are. While competitors can vary depending on what you’re looking to compare, it’s great to start with at least 3-5 to get a good idea of what’s to be expected for the product or service you’re looking to compare.

If you’re not exactly sure who your competitors are or are breaking into a new niche or industry, try searching phrases and hashtags that relate to see who shows up.

3. Create a Template

Once you’ve nailed down what you want to perform your analysis for and on whom you want to perform it, it’s time to put together a template to store all the data and research you’re about to gather. This can be as simple or as complex as you want, just ensure it includes all the important elements you want to capture and it’s easy for you to understand and interpret when all is said and done. 

4. Begin Researching

Now for the most important part: collecting the research. Since you’ve already created your template and defined what exactly you want to know, it’s time to look for it. Be sure to cover all the bases of your competition by checking their website, blogs and their social media channels. 

5. Document Your Findings

This is the easy part. Use the template you’ve already created as a place to store all the helpful insights you’ve collected during your research. We find it most helpful to keep all your data on one page, side by side. This makes it even easier to cross-reference similarities and differences between competitions. 

6. Identify Areas of Improvement

Your template makes this part simple. With all your data in one spot, all you have to do is compare, contrast, and, of course, make note of your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in comparison. There will likely be many things that come out of your analysis, but we recommend breaking down your results into three categories: will not implement, short-term implementations and long-term implementations.

Will not implement is designated for things your competition may be doing but you do not have the interest or capacity to work on. Short-term implementations are items you can start on right away and do not necessarily need additional resources or approval. Long-term implementations are the bigger action items that you will need to put more effort and resources into in order to see results.

7. Track Your Results

Perhaps the most important part of an analysis is the aftermath. What is it all for if you don’t actively track your results? This doesn’t need to be something you’re checking in on weekly, but setting monthly or semi-annual check-ins on your results with your team to see the fruits of your labor in action could be beneficial. 


How often you perform an analysis is totally up to you and your brand's needs. That being said, it’s recommended that you partake in competitive research at least twice a year to remain competitive. We recommend taking it one step further and performing an analysis every quarter or even when you’re experiencing a lull in performance or creativity. Due to its ever-changing nature, there is never ‘too much’ competitive research when it comes to social media. 

How Often Should You Do A Competitive Analysis?

How often you perform an analysis is totally up to you and your brand's needs. That being said, it’s recommended that you partake in competitive research at least twice a year to remain competitive. We recommend taking it one step further and performing an analysis every quarter or even when you’re experiencing a lull in performance or creativity. Due to its ever-changing nature, there is never ‘too much’ competitive research when it comes to social media. 

FAQs

How do you do a simple competitive analysis?

If you don’t have the time for a full-fledged competitor analysis, you can easily simplify it. It’s still important to identify your competitors and the product, service or platform you’re looking to compare, but instead of creating a formal process, you can just look into the competitor's offerings and make note of things that catch your eye. While it’s not the most thorough process, it can be a fast and easy way to see where you may be lacking compared to the competition. 

What is the first step in a competitive analysis?

The first step in the analysis is interchangeable depending on the priorities. You can either begin by identifying the competitors you want to target or start with the product, service or platform you want to compare. Either way, both of these steps must be completed to have a thorough analysis with impactful insights. 

How do you analyze competitors on Instagram?

Analyzing competitors on Instagram is very easy. All you have to do is ensure you have some sort of template to track your findings and the handles of the competition you want to look at. Things to note when analyzing competitors on Instagram include follower count, engagement levels, content type and frequency. 

How do I compare competition on Twitter?

To compare competition on Twitter, brands can tap into Competitive Insights and Benchmarking to find opportunities on Twitter — this lets brands set benchmarks for their own performance, analyze their creative assets to see what performs better and even look at their competitor's cross-channel content to spot industry trends.

Is SWOT a competitive analysis? 

A SWOT analysis (looking at your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a great piece to include in your overall strategy, and while it is a way to analyze competitors, it's often used as a piece within your larger social media competitive analysis. A competitive analysis might include a SWOT analysis but will also detail your competitor's content mix, follower demographic, social share of voice, and any other granular details you want to compare. 


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