With over 1.4 billion active monthly users, Instagram is one of, if not the most, recognizable social media platforms in the world. Because of this, it has become one of the most valuable tools in any social media manager's toolbox.
Not only is Instagram a great resource to build brand awareness, but it’s an even better place to gather data on your competition, learn what your target audience responds to and therefore what you should be doing more or less of within your content strategy. An Instagram competitive analysis is the first step to understanding your competition better than ever before.
An Instagram competitive analysis is the process of gathering data and insights on your competitors’ presence on Instagram. Posting cadence, content formats, creative style, and general behavior are a few of the elements that may be analyzed to better inform your content strategy going forward.
Brands know now more than ever how important it is to keep an eye on their competition, but it hasn’t always been easy. Gathering competitive insights is time-consuming and can also leave a pile of data that doesn’t have any obvious action items or step forward. Here are some more reasons brands should practice Instagram competitive analysis’:
Competitive analysis can help brands establish KPIs to measure your social performance against — while it’s important to create KPIs based on your own previous performance, it’s helpful to compare yourself to competitors.
Just like competitive analysis will help you set KPIs, it also gives you a great idea of what the benchmarks are in your industry. Do you have goals to grow your followers to 400 million, but your competitors all have 35 million? Industry benchmarks are integral to setting SMART goals.
Someone once said, build it and they will come — but what about when they don’t? It can be easy to fall into familiar patterns (think content styles or templates), and looking at your competitor’s successful content will help you part ways with content that doesn’t serve your social profiles, whether it’s feed posts or Instagram story layouts.
A competitive analysis takes these valuable insights and adds context. By having a single format to collect, store and analyze data, it becomes much easier to understand your competition as a whole and derive the next steps from there.
Identifying your competitors on Instagram should be fairly easy if you have a good handle on your brand identity and industry outside of social media. For the competitors you have identified outside of Instagram, it’s just a matter of finding their accounts, which are almost always going to be linked on their website if you can’t find them directly in search.
If the goal is to find a whole new set of competitors, you can do a couple of things. Track the relevant hashtags and topics to your brand and note what brands are showing up within the feed. Don’t be afraid to get as granular in your research as possible. By this, we mean it’s okay to search specific hashtags or products instead of product categories. If you’re a skincare brand launching a new product, don’t feel like you have to stick to standard skincare competition. As a result, you’ll be unlocking new competition and may even find yourself inspired by what you see.
Starting an Instagram competitive analysis is the hardest part, but it only takes a few easy steps. How should you begin analyzing competitors?
The best part of performing a competitive analysis for Instagram is that it is entirely customizable based on your brand's needs.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some essential metrics to keep in mind when looking at your competitors:
Posting Cadence: One of the most valuable pieces of information you can get from your competition is when and how often they are posting. This can give significant insight into the best time to post for your industry on Instagram before even testing these timings out for your brand. It can also show you whether you’re posting too frequently or not.
Content Type: The type of content your competition is posting is an important element to pay attention to, and not just their static images. Be sure to analyze their Stories and Reels to get a good idea of their content mix and how it is similar to or different from your own. Be sure to also note the types of hashtags they include within these posts and what their top-performing content looks like.
Creative Style: Understanding what type of content your competitors are posting is one thing, having a handle on their creative style is another. What exactly does their content look and feel like? Is there a clear theme or story being told through their assets? A calculated mix of tutorials, UGC and product shots? Knowing these details can help inform what your brand's unique content mix could be.
Engagement Rate: Engagement is everything on Instagram, and knowing the engagement rate of your competitors' content is key to truly understanding what your target audience and consumers are responding to and interested in. A good engagement rate is anywhere between 1% and 3%.
Followers and Audience Growth: ln the new era of social entertainment, we now know that number of followers isn’t the only way to track whether an account is successful. That being said, it’s a great benchmark to keep track of in terms of your competition. Monitoring the growth of your competitors' audience can give insight into whether your account is growing steadily or if some changes need to be made.
Once your template is ready to go, it’s time to document your findings. We always recommend reviewing the data with other members of your team. This brings fresh ideas to the table and can help eliminate some of the fatigue and guesswork that can come with this type of competitive data collection.
Now that you’ve collected your competitive data and better understand what you need to do, it’s time to create some action items. Start by identifying any gaps in your content in comparison to your competitors. Is there something they are all doing that you aren’t yet? Is there a specific type of post that is performing well for them that you haven’t experimented with? This is also an opportunity to identify product or service offerings gaps.
Once you’ve identified your gaps, it’s time for the most important part: creating better content. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but users aren’t looking for brands that are doing the same thing as everyone else. They’re looking for brands that do it differently and better. Use the competitive data you’ve collected as inspiration to take your Instagram to the next level.
Instagram has always been at the forefront of Dash Hudson’s offerings, so it was only a matter of time before releasing a full suite of competitive insights and features to give users the best possible understanding of their competition on the app. With these new offerings, it has never been easier – and more efficient – to gather insights and benchmark against competitors and industry leaders. Take an Interactive Product Tour to learn how your brand can outperform the competition.
With the ability to customize unique reports and dashboards, it's finally possible to view only the competitive metrics that matter to you and your team.
While it may seem contradictory, following your competitors on Instagram can be a huge advantage. Not only will you be able to keep up with your competitors in real-time, within your own following feed, but you will also be privy to product performance and rising trends.
The market is saturated with tools that help brands better understand their competitive landscape. The best tools provide a full suite of capabilities beyond competitive post and behavior analysis. Dash Hudson, Sprout Social, Brandwatch, and Brand24 are tools that are either entirely dedicated to or provide access to impressive competitive insights for Instagram.
There are a few competitive advantages Instagram has over other social media channels. The first is its lasting power. While most social media platforms ebb and flow, the popularity of Instagram has been extremely consistent since 2010.
Beyond popularity, Instagram has become a space for highly visual brands with a story to tell. Businesses of all sizes can create an account and reach consumers worldwide.