Riddle me this: who’s got two thumbs, and could step up their social media marketing game?
Answer: you, probably! And me. And well, almost anyone who maintains a personal or business brand on socials.
But of course, it’s easy to say, “Step up your social media game.” Ugh, it even sounds smug, like I’m stepping off a 9-figure superyacht and right into the boardroom of an advertising agency on Madison Avenue!
How exactly are you supposed to do it, though? Especially if you don’t have a full-time social media team?
I mean, best-case scenario, you’ve got one dedicated person manning your socials. And worst-case, it’s just you and your two trusty thumbs, posting during random afternoons when you aren’t too busy running a business.
Well, here’s one idea: study the accounts in your industry who are already seeing success on social media. AKA… your competitors.
By the way — when I say “study,” it’s not a polite euphemism for ripping off content from your competition. I’m talking about doing actual, honest-to-goodness competitive intelligence. Because if you know where to look, and which metrics to track…
…then you can learn a lot from how your competitors are thriving (or struggling, for that matter!) on socials.
And today, I’ll show you just some of the valuable insights you can learn through smart and targeted competitive analysis.
You will learn:
- How to determine if a brand is ACTUALLY successful on social media (and why a massive follower count isn’t a great way to spot a genuinely vibrant audience)
- Which social media marketing metrics will help you get an accurate picture of performance — and which ones to ditch without looking back.
- Ways to capitalize on high-performing content your competitors post, without aping their ideas or hopping on random trends.
- How to differentiate yourself on socials even in the noisiest, fever-pitch-competitive niches imaginable.
But before we dive in, there’s something you should know:
The Go! Agency, helmed by friend of The Draw Shop and marvelous marketing mind Chris Tompkins, are giving away a free package of Social Media Competitive Analysis Reports to business owners just like you.
When you apply, their social media marketing team will analyze the heck out of your 1-5 direct competitors (you can tell them exactly who to study) — and provide you with actionable insights about their growth, top-performing content, audience engagement, and more across 8+ key areas.
Normally they bill $1,750 for this one service, but they are making it available at no cost this summer. This is an outrageously valuable proposition even at full price, let alone for free!
If you’re interested, you can use this link to apply on their service page.
Oookay, now let’s dive right back into your regularly scheduled programming!
When you study your competitors and their social media game, you can…
Gauge how authentic their presence REALLY is
Big follower counts don’t always translate 1:1 into a vibrant, engaged audience. And confusing the two could really come back to gnaw on your soft bits! For evidence, look no further than the many, many stories of failed product launches — like this influencer not being able to sell even 36 shirts to her 2.6 million followers (oof).
A brand can have millions of followers on socials, and 60% of them could be bots. They might be popular with a demographic that doesn’t actually represent their ideal customers. They could generate tons of views with their content, but very little actual engagement. You name it.
If you look beyond follower counts and actually put your competitors’ audiences under a microscope, you may just learn that their appearance of massive success is, well… only an appearance.
And if you discover the opposite, and they did earn their hyper-engaged crowds of adoring fans the legit way — then you have all the more reason to study them closely!
Embrace clearer, more actionable performance metrics
Vanity metrics are the bane of all marketing — but especially with social media marketing, this problem reaches truly ludicrous heights.
(I swear I’ll never know what possesses otherwise whip-smart professionals to devote precious time during marketing meetings just to waffle about the like count on a single post, as if it means something.)
Of course, tracking meaningful benchmarks — e.g. account growth rate, post interaction rate, engagement growth rate, to name a few — is harder. Vanity metrics are great for ego boosting! And nothing shatters the illusion of amazing performance quite like cold, merciless data. But if you want to build an effective social media marketing strategy, it has to be done.
So that’s why it makes sense to start monitoring those benchmarks with your competition. You will *want* to get an accurate picture of their performance without being dazzled by vanity metrics. And once you do, it only makes sense to apply the same rigorous approach to measuring your own success.
Decide which social channels you should invest in
You cannot, and should not, maintain a meaningful presence on every social media platform out there. I mean, have you seen how many of them there are? (Especially now that Twitter is imploding and we’re seeing what feels like 472 clones launch every single week.)
It’s kind of like trying to adopt every dog who needs a loving home — it’s absolutely well-intentioned… but not remotely feasible.
So how do you choose which social channel deserves your limited, precious marketing resources? Well, that’s one case where following your competition may be a great idea.
If you see other brands in your industry thriving on particular platforms, it’s a sure sign that a receptive audience of potential customers exists over there.
“Be where your ideal customers are” is what I would describe as one of the few truly immutable rules of marketing. And you should absolutely follow it. Be where your customers are; and if you’re already there, invest more in making your presence more prominent.
Spot “content gaps” your brand could fill
Studying high-performing social media content in your industry can teach you a lot of things.
- It can show you the topics and formats your target customers are craving (e.g. wondering if humorous content can work in your industry? Check if it already is!)
- It can give you a ton of ideas for future posts — not in the sense of “this post about X did well, let’s rip it off shamelessly”, but in the sense of “what else could we post that aligns with that format / topic / vibe?”
- And most importantly, it can reveal what your competitors aren’t covering… but YOU could
For example, I’m willing to bet dollars to kale chips that brands in your industry aren’t leveraging relatable, “literally me”-type content much, if at all! (I just linked to a guide that will teach you what it is and how to create it if you’re interested.)
A lot of the time beating the competition isn’t about doing the same thing as they are. It’s about doing what they probably should do… but AREN’T.
Identify ripe opportunities to differentiate yourself
Finally, perhaps the most important question to ask yourself as you [s]snoop on research your competitors is…
“Why are they doing it like this? And what can our brand do differently that ONLY WE are capable of?”
E.g. if every other company in your industry posts in a stiff, formal tone that sounds like a government press release come to life (or at least a horrifying parody of one)…
…then the most powerful thing you could do would be to become a breath of fresh air and talk like a human.
And that logic applies to every decision you make about your social media marketing.
You don’t have to run customer support on socials, or do giveaways, or hop on trends (that will start to feel played out the very same evening) like an over-caffeinated rabbit, or do anything else just because everyone else is doing it.
The most precious opportunity studying your competition can give you is that rare chance to reexamine your strategy with a fresh perspective, and decide which elements serve you — and which ones do not.
Use it wisely.
Peep your competitors’ social media secrets (for free)
For a limited time, our friend Chris Tompkins at The Go! Agency is offering their proprietary Social Media Competitive Analysis Reports service free of charge.
This is normally a $1,750 package that you can only purchase as part of their integrated digital marketing service, and I don’t know what possessed Chris and the team to make it available to everyone at no cost… but hey, all that matters is that you can take advantage of it!
If you want to know EXACTLY how your social media presence stacks up against your competition, this free-as-of-right-now service will help you:
- Measure your competitors’ performance on socials across 8+ key areas, giving you accurate insight into how fast they are growing AND how high (or low!) quality that growth actually is.
- Identify their top-performing content, so you can learn what kind of assets drive the biggest ROI on social media for your industry, spot “content gaps” you can exploit, and engineer your own hit posts.
- Put their audience under a microscope and figure out precisely how engaged they are, what share of authentic followers vs. bots your competitors have, and how their followers usually interact with them (if at all). Audience HEALTH is so much more crucial than audience SIZE, and this will help you keep a finger on the pulse.
Interested? Then here’s how you can snag your Social Media Competitive Analysis Reports for free:
- Give this here link a gentle click — it will take you directly to the service page.
- Fill in just a few key details: company name, website, your name and email.
- List up to 5 direct competitors you want to get the tea on.
- Submit your application. And BAM! Your obsessively detailed reports will be on their merry way to you.
The Go! Agency has been around for over 14 years, and they have one of the finest social media marketing teams in the business. I can’t name anyone I’d rather have doing social media competitive intelligence for me — and even if I could, they sure wouldn’t be doing it for free!
If your social media strategy could use a fresh set of eyes, a jolt of inspiration, and a whole bucket of actionable competitive insights, I sincerely hope you don’t pass on this offer and let Chris and his team work their magic for you.