Your social media competitor analysis guide for 2023 and beyond

Aishwarya Suresh

September 20, 20239 min read

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Have you ever been curious about what your competitors are up to on social media?  

Imagine you visit your neighbors for a barbecue party and couldn’t get enough of their grilled chicken. What do you do next? Naturally, you’d want to get your hands on their recipe. Why? Because when it’s your turn to host a party, you can be sure your chicken tastes goddamn good! 

Social media competitor analysis is similar — researching your competitors’ social media activity and then using the resulting insights to improve your social media strategy.  

The father of American literature, Mark Twain, may have said, “Comparison is the death of joy,” but when it comes to social media, strategic comparison can fetch some incredible wins for your brand. 

Think about this: more than 4.9 billion people are on social media! The opportunities are endless but it’s important to be better than your competition. How do you ensure you always stay one step ahead of your competitors? With social media competitor analysis, of course. Mark Twain also famously said, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started”, and that's exactly the mindset you need to develop if you haven’t done competitor analysis before. By monitoring what your competitors are doing and learning from their wins and losses, you'll be on your way to social media success. 

Unravel social media competitor analysis
Table of Contents

What is social media competitor analysis? 

Social media competitor analysis is the process of evaluating your competitors' strategies across various social media platforms. It involves identifying your key competitors, collecting platform-specific data as well as analyzing their content, engagement and audience interactions. 

It's like shining a light on what your competitors are doing — their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This spotlight helps you rev up your own social media strategy, plugging the gaps you didn't even know were there. Imagine being able to fine-tune your content and approach, to truly connect with your audience. That's the power of competitor analysis. With a thorough social media competitor analysis, you can: 

  • Learn from your competitors' posts — get an idea of what kind of content their followers engage with so you can tweak your own strategy and publish posts that resonate with your audience 

  • Get to know their posting schedule and cadence so you can also strategically time your posts to maximize audience engagement 

  • Identify active social networks i.e. social platforms where theypost most of their content so you know which platforms you should focus on 

  • Gain a good understanding of their audience which will in turn help in targeting your audience at different social channels and in increasing your overall engagement 

  • Uncover top-performing keywords and hashtags — using which you can boost your content's search visibility and audience engagement 

Why is social media competitor analysis essential? 

Let's see how social media competitor analysis can benefit your brand. 

  • Get deeper insights: When you look at how your competitors’ social media performance, you’ll be able to make out how you stack up against them. As a result, you’ll know where your strategy might be lacking. It also helps you stay on top of industry trends and adapt to changing market demands better. 

  • Make informed decisions: Analyzing successful competitor strategies not only enhances your content quality but also helps you spot new opportunities that they may have missed. Learning from their successes and failures informs smarter decision-making for your own campaigns.  

  • Mitigate risk: Paying attention to your competitors' mistakes helps you avoid those same mistakes and in the process steer clear of crises. 

  • Improve your offerings: Taking note of competitors' audience feedback can inform your own product roadmap. 

As you can see, conducting a thorough social media competitor analysis can help you improve your social media strategy, stay ahead of the competition and grow your brand. 

5 steps to performing an effective social media competitor analysis 

Let's see how you can excel at social media analysis with these 5 steps. 

Step 1: Identify your competitors  

Ever noticed how being a reputed brand isn't the only criterion to stand out from the pack these days? To truly shine, you need to know who you're up against. But how do you find these pearls in the vast social media sea? Let’s see how! 

Who's your crowd? 

Start by looking at brands from your industry active on social media. These are the ones you can learn from, the ones that set the benchmark for your own journey. Sprinklr's AI-powered competitive benchmarking tools can help you compare your social media performance against that of your competitors.  

Sprinklr's Competitive Benchmarking dashboard

But don't stop with direct competitors — those selling what you do. Cast a wider net for indirect competitors — brands with a similar vibe or serving a similar audience.  

For instance, if you're a fitness app, your direct competitors might include other fitness apps. But your indirect competitors could be healthy food delivery services or wellness influencers who have the same target users as your brand. 

Learn More: What is competitive benchmarking and how do I get started? 

Keywords — the compass to competition 

Dig into competitive keywords. Think about the keywords people search for on Google to find businesses like yours. Say you run a cafe in Seattle. “Best coffee in Seattle” could be your magic keyword. You can use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner to uncover these keywords. 

Usage of Google AdWords

Source 

With Sprinklr’s social listening tools, you can monitor conversations and keywords surrounding your brand, industry or even competitors across multiple social media platforms — all in real time. And find out who's ranking well in search results and who's investing in ads for these keywords. 

Imagine a boutique cafe using “craft coffee Seattle” as a keyword. Even if Starbucks isn't in the same exact business as the boutique cafe, it still comes up in conversations about “craft coffee Seattle.” In other words, people associate that brand with this keyword. 

Interesting Read: 4 ways to get more from your social listening strategy with competitive benchmarking 

Scour Google and social 

Now, do a quick search of your chosen keywords on Google. This shows who's ahead in the SEO game. But don’t forget, we're focusing on social media. See who's appearing in social searches too. Let's say you're looking for “eco-friendly fashion.” While big labels might dominate Google, smaller eco-conscious brands might shine on platforms like Instagram. 

Let’s say you are searching “sustainable fashion” on Facebook – you'll likely find lesser-known brands there with a strong social presence. 

Audience connections 

Here's where things get interesting. Explore your audience's interests using Facebook Audience Insights, Twitter Analytics or with tools like Sprinklr's Audience Insights.  

Sprinklr's Twitter Audience Study window.

Who else do they follow? Brands aligning with your ethos could be your trusted ally. 

If your audience loves ethical fashion, chances are they follow indie ethical clothing brands on social media. 

Narrowing the pack 

You have your findings, but it's time to refine. Choose around three to five like-minded competitors within your niche. For instance, if you're a pet care brand, you might focus on holistic pet care brands with an eco-friendly touch. 

By identifying these social media contenders, you're laying the foundation for your journey.  

Step 2: Gather intel on your competitors' social presence 

You have your competitors, now let's take a closer look at how they use social media. 

Discover their social moves 

Numbers are just part of the story. Knowing how they use each platform gives you the full picture. Let's break it down with four crucial questions: 

1. How active are they? 

Take a peek into their activity: 

  • When did they last publish a post? 

  • Do they maintain a consistent posting schedule? 

  • How responsive are they to comments? 

  • How deep do their responses go? 

Staying active means posting regularly. If they're outpacing you, it might be time to catch up. This reveals their content and customer interaction tactics. 

2. What's their content style? 

Analyze their last 10 posts: 

  • What's the ratio of promotional to non-promotional content? 

  • Which of these content formats dominate – videos, images, user-generated content? 

  • Do they ride the latest trends or rely a lot on memes? 

This insight would reveal the content strategies behind their success, helping you refine yours without any guesswork. 

3. Decoding their brand persona 

Explore their brand voice — how they communicate on social. Do they post as the brand itself or using employee profiles? 

Go beyond: Don't miss their websites. Often, blogs are repurposed into social content. Check if they're maximizing their content resources. As you figure out these aspects for each competitor, you're completing your social media competitive analysis template. 

4. Identify their social media channels 

Time to check each of the platforms where your competitors are most active on — use tools like Sprinklr’s competitive insights & benchmarking solution

Explore their profiles: 

  • Which platforms are they on? 

  • How big is their audience and how fast is it growing? 

  • Who are their top followers? 

  • How often do they post? 

  • How engaged is their audience? 

  • How do they stand out in discussions? 

  • What hashtags do they swear by and how many do they use? 

Be sure to track these metrics for your channels too. It might be a valuable resource for your next analysis. 

Step 3: Find your competitive edge with SWOT analysis 

With your competitor data in hand, use it to get ahead in your industry. Do a SWOT analysis (looking at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). This helps you understand where you stand compared to your competitors and find ways to improve your strategy while avoiding potential problems. 

Here's the key: Strengths and weaknesses focus on what's happening within your brand, highlighting what you excel at and where there's room for growth. 

Opportunities and threats, on the other hand, revolve around external factors, offering insights into the competitive landscape and potential challenges on the horizon. 

SWOT Analysis for social media competitive analysis

Strengths (S): What are your internal advantages? Identify metrics where you outshine your competitors. Perhaps your Facebook followers exceed theirs, or your engagement rates are higher. 

Weaknesses (W): Where can you improve? Identify where your metrics fall behind competitors. These are your chances to improve your social media strategy. 

Opportunities (O): Now that you see where you stand, spot potential opportunities. These opportunities could come from areas where you can do better than your competitors or from recent shifts in social media trends. 

Threats (T): What external factors might affect you? Look at how the numbers (followers, engagement, posting frequency, etc,.) have changed and grown over time. For instance, a small competitor experiencing a rapid follower growth could pose a more significant threat than a large competitor with stagnant growth. 

Having performed your SWOT analysis, you now hold the keys to growth opportunities. Translate these findings into action. Log your insights into a spreadsheet and guide your strategy. 

The next step? Putting your SWOT analysis to work. 

Step 4: Transform data into actionable insights 

Once you've gathered and organized all these valuable insights, it's time to put them into action. Leverage a social media analytics tool to collect your social media marketing profile data and compare it with your competitors'.

Sprinklr's Reporting & Analytics comparison dashboard

This analysis offers several benefits: 

  • Evaluate your position in the social media market 

  • Identify key influencers who support your brand 

  • Measure your competitors' success and achievements 

  • Find areas where your competitors may be behind 

Read More: Social media measurement: How to get accurate insights 

However, it's not just about collecting data. The final step involves translating this data into something that others can easily understand. Move beyond merely sharing your analysis template and embrace data storytelling. Turn those raw numbers and insights into accessible, actionable takeaways. 

Here are some effective strategies: 

  • Utilize visuals like charts and graphs to present data visually 

  • Highlight the most compelling findings — not every detail is necessary 

  • Expect questions or challenges and provide solutions accordingly 

  • Outline your next steps (What will you do with the insights gathered from your competitive analysis?) 

Remember, as mentioned before, the goal of this social media competitive analysis isn't to copy what others are doing. Consider it a guide to help you get on the right path. 

By comparing your brand's metrics and data with your competitors', you can make informed adjustments to gain a competitive edge. 

Step 5: Stay updated 

Your social media competitor analysis isn't a one-time task. It's an ongoing process that involves: 

  • Tracking your brand's progress 

  • Spotting new competition 

  • Checking if your social media strategy is effective 

  • Finding new growth chances 

  • Keeping your marketing plan current 

To do this, analyze your social media competitors regularly, whether it's monthly, quarterly or yearly. Also, keep your competitor research spreadsheet updated to catch any new opportunities or challenges.  

So, there you go! Ready to kickstart your social media analysis journey and take your digital marketing skills to the next level — armed with valuable market insights?  

Kickstart your social media analysis journey

Things to keep in mind while doing a social media competitor audit 

As you start assessing what your competitors are doing on social media, remember these helpful tips: 

  • Choose wisely: Select competitors that are relevant to your industry and target audience for meaningful insights 

  • Stay consistent: Use the same tools and metrics for each competitor so your analysis is spot-on 

  • Unique isn’t bad: Every brand has its own social media style, so take note of what makes them stand out 

  • Beyond the numbers: While metrics matter, also celebrate content that genuinely resonates with their audience 

  • Discover opportunities: Use your analysis to uncover exciting areas your competitors may have overlooked 

  • Be an innovator: Rather than copying, let your analysis inspire fresh, original strategies 

With these guidelines, your social media competitor analysis will be an inspiring journey toward elevating your own social media game!  

That’s a wrap! 

Remember, as you dive into the world of social media competitor analysis, you're not just exploring your competitors, you're sculpting a path to your own success.  

As the digital landscape evolves, data becomes your compass. And knowledge isn't just power — it's your competitive edge. 

With each analysis, you're crafting strategies that set you apart. So, let the stats guide you, the figures inspire you, and remember Mark Zuckerberg's words: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” 

Sprinklr Insights
Sprinklr Insights: Insights & Listening Software

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