How to Analyze Competitor Efforts to Improve Your Social Media Marketing Campaign - dummies

How to Analyze Competitor Efforts to Improve Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

By Shiv Singh, Stephanie Diamond

Just as it’s important for your social media marketing campaign to understand where your consumers participate in the social web, so it’s also necessary to understand how your competitors engage in the social web. The following are some types of information to consider when you are planning your SMM investigation:

  • Keywords being used by competitors.

    This is something you have probably heard again and again, but its importance can’t be overemphasized. If you don’t use the right keywords, you won’t be found. Make sure to note which ones your competitors are using.

  • Where their traffic is coming from.

    Using Google Ad Planner and a host of other tools, you can learn more about the traffic to their website and other channels. It is worth noting that the strongest brands get significant traffic from social referrals along with the search engines.

  • Rankings by important engines.

    You can do a quick look at major ranking engines such as Alexa to see how their sites compare with yours. For very large competitors, sites like Quantcast can help you determine how many people are visiting your competitors’ websites and whether they are visiting the desktop or mobile versions.

    Another important tool to look at is Google webmaster tools, which lets you see the approximate traffic of a website and the profiles of the people visiting, including the other sites they visit and their various interests.

  • Which social media platforms they are on and which distribution channels they use.

    If you don’t know where your customers spend their time, you won’t be able to market to them where they are most comfortable. You can’t count on their going to your website. Most businesses are now using several channels besides their websites, so be aware of their choices and see what could work for you.

  • Who they partner with.

    This is an often-overlooked source of competitive information. Businesses find synergy and partner with those who have similar audiences. Whom they partner with tells you a lot about how they view their audience. Those partnerships could also include where they advertise, people or organizations with whom they have comarketing agreements, and partners who serve as referral engines for them.

  • Loyalty and other programs they employ.

    Find out what programs are keeping their customers loyal to them, and see how you can tap into the same vein with your own unique program. A recent trend is the creation of Social Loyalty programs, which reward consumers for social actions that they take on behalf of brands.

  • Their online customer service efforts.

    This one can be a secret weapon for you. If you see that your competitors aren’t offering support through social media channels, you can distinguish your company with a solid effort here. According to Bain & Co, a customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related versus price or product related.

  • What they do offline to connect with customers.

    Check out whether your competitors have special training programs or other educational sessions available locally. This might be a way they are increasing their customer base consistently.

If your competitors are already running marketing campaigns similar to what you plan to do, yours won’t attract much attention. To prevent this from happening, a combination of sleuthing and the following third-party tools can help you.

Setting up Google Alerts

You can set up these free alerts for keywords related to your competitors. These keywords can include company names, brands, senior manager names, and partner names. Every day, you receive a Google Alert in your email Inbox with summaries of news stories and blog posts that include those keywords. It’s a good starting point and completely free.

To set up a Google Alert, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the Google Alert page.

    The Google Alerts page opens.

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  2. Enter the search terms for which you want alerts.

    Try to keep these to one word or a commonly used phrase.

  3. From the Type drop-down list, choose what type of content you want Google to search.

  4. From the How Often drop-down list, choose the frequency with which you want the alerts delivered to you.

    Once a Day is a good frequency choice.

  5. Enter the email address where you want the alerts to be sent.

    Remember that you can edit these alert settings at any time.

  6. Click the Create Alert button.

Setting up Twitter alerts

Similarly, create Twitter alerts that track those same keywords in the Twitter world. Services like Twilert let you follow keywords and observe all the microblogging posts in which those words appear.

To set up a Twitter alert, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to www.twilert.com.

    The Twilert home page opens.

    To set a Twitter alert, you have to be signed in to your Twitter account.

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  2. Type the keyword that you want the alert set up for.

  3. Click the Create Twilert button.

Monitoring social networks

You probably want to observe what your customers are doing on the various social networks. That’s a little harder to do because most social networks are closed gardens, meaning that except for the public profile pages, you can’t search them with external tools, and typically, after you log in, you can’t search the universe of activity on them.

However, what you can do is search and follow the pages, profiles, groups, and applications created by your competitors. Keep in mind that some users hide their profiles, so you won’t be able to track them. You can search the Facebook public pages by simply typing in the search query.

Tracking competitor websites

Look at the social media efforts that may reside on your competitors’ websites. Often, those efforts are promoted or anchored in the company website or company-sponsored microsite through links. In fact, many of your competitors probably have corporate blogs and Twitter accounts.