From insights to action: The future of competitive social media intelligence

Social media platforms are brimming with mountains of data that is rich with consumer opinions about products and services, user interactions, marketing content and much more. For a business, this data is a veritable treasure house of insights about the brand, the industry and most importantly, the competition. The insights gathered from the data can be used to create or modify business strategies, enhance customer relationships and also analyse the competition. As per industry reports, 95% of executives today agree that businesses must use social media data to make informed decisions in not just marketing but in other sectors too. 

Now a competitive analysis is done by every business that hopes to sell well and stand out. Social media competitive analysis involves monitoring and evaluating the competitors’ online performance, social media strategies and overall engagement in an effort to understand their business model, what is working for them and also, what is not. It is important to remember that the goal of a competitive analysis is not to copy but to study, learn, adapt and innovate.

The social media analytics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24% from USD 3.2 B in 2021 to USD 9.3 B in 2026. The market is driven by the increasing number of social media users, the need for measurements to boost the customer experience and the large focus on competitive intelligence.

How does competitive social media analysis work?

The analysis of the competition’s social media data can reveal:

  1. Customer preferences, opinions and market trends
  2. Competitors’ strengths and weaknesses
  3. Impact of the competitors’ marketing strategies
  4. How the business’s own social media strategies are measuring up against those of the competitors
  5. Influencer and mass media activities

Steps that can result in a meaningful analysis include:

  • Identifying the competition
  • The first step is to identify the right competition to benchmark against. Direct competitors are those that offer very similar products and services while indirect competitors are those that offer alternative solutions to fulfil the same needs of customers. Direct competitors of a similar size are best to track.

    Identifying an effective social media monitoring tool is the next big decision to make. Traditional tools are now being replaced by advanced social listening tools that offer deeper insights to help businesses modify and refine marketing strategies and discover opportunities to innovate and expand. The trend is expected to continue as technologies continue to evolve rapidly.

  • Gathering relevant data
  • The more data available to analyse, the better. Gathering data about competitor activities on social media first requires identification of the platforms they use and then gathering data about key metrics. Some of the essential metrics to measure include follower numbers and growth patterns, degree of engagement, frequency of posting, content type and themes, consumer sentiments and customer response time, among others.

  • Analysing data
  • Data analysis reveals actionable insights such as trends, correlations and patterns. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to analyse vast amounts of social media data helps businesses better understand consumer sentiment, trends and preferences.

    As consumers use multiple social media platforms, businesses need to conduct cross-platform analysis to understand the complete social media landscape. This involves analysing competitors' presence and engagement across various platforms and adapting strategies accordingly. The mix of platforms is only likely to go up with time. 

  • Integrating with CRM systems
  • Integrating social media data with customer relationship management (CRM) systems allows businesses to create more personalised marketing campaigns. Competitive analysis involves not just social media metrics but also how these metrics impact customer relationships and overall business goals. Data from CRM systems can be compared with social media intelligence using social competitor analysis tools to understand differences between how consumers actually perceive the brand as opposed to what the internal assessment is.

  • Incorporating the positive findings
  • Competitor practices that have proven themselves can be incorporated into the business’s own strategy. For example, a new language may need to be incorporated, more dynamic or animated content such as more video instead of static images needs to be included, and so on. Undoubtedly video content continues to dominate social media. Competitive social media analysis needs to include monitoring competitors' video strategies and identifying trends to create engaging video content in future.

  • Influencers cannot be ignored
  • Influencers undoubtedly drive brand visibility so their effect on a marketing campaign needs to be studied and analysed well for best results. However, since the influencer marketing landscape is becoming more saturated, businesses must turn to micro and nano influencers for more authentic and targeted engagement. Competitive analysis will then focus on identifying and leveraging these influencers to reach niche audiences.

  • Ensuring privacy and data protection
  • With increasing concerns about privacy and data protection, businesses will need to conduct competitive analysis ethically and responsibly. This includes ensuring compliance with regulations and respecting user privacy preferences.

  • Real-time monitoring and response
  • With social media being a real-time communication channel, businesses will need to increasingly focus on real-time monitoring and response. Competitive analysis must involve monitoring competitors' responses to trends and events on the go and adapting quickly.

The future of competitive social media analysis lies in leveraging advanced tools and technologies to gain deeper insights, focusing on authentic engagement with micro and nano influencers, integrating social media data with CRM systems for personalised marketing and ensuring compliance with privacy regulations. By staying ahead of these trends, businesses can effectively analyse their competitors' social media strategies and improve their own social media presence.

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