Turning a Wide Eye

So you’ve monitored your brand for a while, you understand how to draw and apply conclusions you’ve drawn from the data you’ve gathered but you sense that there’s something missing. One thought crosses your mind – what are others doing in this space, or lets take it one step further – what exactly are your competitors doing in this space? You might be driven by curiosity or you might be driven by the annual benchmarking report, whichever it might be you’ll quickly find a lot of value in monitoring the wider industry conversations including your competition.

Making use of social data to understand your competition is important for several reasons and may at the most basic level help you benchmark a brand’s marketing, communications and general perception against that of others in a similar space. In addition to this, the data can provide insight into competitor activity online, the way in which other products are marketed in social media, online service innovations and how they speak to or with their own customers within social networks. All of this is invaluable information that you can slice and dice and think of incorporating or avoiding in your own business.

Before diving into a competitor analysis you will need to consider the right competitors to measure. You may intuitively think of your closest competitors which is a useful start, however, you should also look into third party data sources to gain a complete view on what companies, products and services compete in your market, at similar price points, or perhaps have just launched. You should also consider non-branded competitors: in banking, for example, brands compete against other uses of money – investments, pension products and so on. Remember that extra data points really add value to any and all of this analysis, though: revenue figures, advertising spend, awareness of discrete marketing campaigns, etcetera, complete the picture – correlations and causations should underlie the data returned from social systems.

Doing an industry wide assessment of the space you operate in can also help uncover up and coming competitors, ones that you may not have identified in a traditional competitor analysis. Based on this you can make predictions about what is likely to develop in the market place. Be sure to take a step back however and consider where your client is in a wider context; why does brand X have a particularly strong presence in your market? Is it due to obvious factors like a high traditional marketing spend or a strong set of social presences? Can you replicate their success? Perhaps no one in your market is particularly successful in social channels; in this case there’s a first mover advantage waiting there for you to take! You’ll be surprised at the opportunities you might uncover when you move beyond monitoring just your brand. Chances are you’ll uncover information that you didn’t actually know you were looking for but will go a long way towards giving you a competitive edge.

By Olivia Landolt Marketing and Community Manager

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