What is a Competitive Analysis and How to Do One

Madisyn MacMillan
September 2, 2022
Last Updated On

It’s official: understanding your competitor's marketing tactics, strategies, and product or service releases is almost just as important as the grasp you have 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 insights for your team, and we’ll show you exactly how to do one.

What is a Competitive Analysis?

It is a process of collecting data on your competitors’ services and products that are similar or identical to your own. The purpose of this is 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 are performing and behaving 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 are Analyses of Competitors important?

As all social media managers know, it can be extremely easy to fall into a comfortable routine when it comes to your content calendar. What a competitive analysis does is push 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 be working for you, too. 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 specific niche, as well as to identify your own brand's strengths and weaknesses.

What to Include in Your Competitive Analysis

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:

Product Pricing

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 that sets the same product by different brands apart. While noting your competitor's pricing may not lead to a shift in your pricing, it is good to know what the competition thinks the product or service you’re selling is worth, and whether customers are still willing to buy it. 

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 what your competitor's content strategy is, you can make notes of the different types of content they post, and how often. You’ll often notice that successful brands have a healthy mix of promotion, products and UGC to keep their feed interesting.  

Social Presence

Just posting on social media isn’t enough anymore, that is why it is important to notice your competitors’ social presence. 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 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 are reacting 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 that you can fill in the meantime. Five-star reviews can show you what you should be doing, and one-star reviews can show you what you can be doing.

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 Perform a Social Media Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis’ can often be made out to be more complicated than they need 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. There are a couple of different reasons you could want to perform an analysis. 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 already highly likely that you 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 who you want to perform it on, 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 if you 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 where 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 that you can get started on right away and do not necessarily need additional resources or approval for. 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. If you aren’t actively tracking your results, then what was it all for? This doesn’t need to be something you’re checking in on weekly, but it could be beneficial to set monthly, or semi-annual check-ins on your results with your team to see the fruits of your labor in action. 

How Often Should You Do A Competitive Analysis?

How often you perform an analysis is totally up to you and the needs of your brand. 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 in comparison 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’re looking to compare. Either way, both of these steps will need to be completed in order 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 of course, the handles of the competition you want to look at. Things to make note of when analyzing competitors on Instagram include follower count, engagement levels, and content type and frequency.


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