I previously discussed that in our role as digital marketers, social media should now be fully aligned with our
businesses overall brand strategy. We are all active on social media and have multiple presences on the various
different platforms out there. Having a presence alone is not enough to guarantee success, so now is the time
to start to analyze which kinds of social media marketing techniques are working and which ones fail to yield
the required results.

Due to the low cost involved involved in entering social media marketing, too many brands just jump in and
and don’t have any real goals or strategies. Entering social media with no plan, can lead to damaging a
brand rather than growing or strengthening it. It is worth investing time and money in the planning stages
as in long run you will stand a much greater chance of getting the results that you desire! Its also
important to remember that social media is one of the most influencial ways to reach your desired demographic.

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At first creating a highly effective social media strategy can seem intimidating. Creating a solid strategy from scratch
can also be extremely time consuming – but I am going to show you a way that saves time and removes the intimidation factor!

When someone asks me help them devise a winning social media strategy, the first thing I suggest is to run a social
competitive analysis. Analyzing your competitors, allows you to set realistic expectations for your business/brand
according to averages of others working in the space. You are able to see what kind of posts generate engagement, excitement and virility and which posts simply become digital tumbleweed. It provides you with an already existing
framework for you to start pulling together your own framework. Also if you see a few competitors making the same
glaring error – this is your chance to identify this and make sure your brand totally avoid it!

This approach can also be used for a brand or business who simply want to revive their social media efforts and want to bounce into the new year with a fresh approach.  Taking the time to look at other brands really can be used a brainstorming exercise to find new and exciting ideas that will truly allow you to take existing practices to a whole new level. personally I think its really important to look at which kind of posts really get the conversations flowing, not just between the brand and the customer but between the customers themselves, and get people promoting your posts (and brand) to non customers!

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Its always great to see the kind of posts where people will tag a contact on the off chance they might be interested in the offer too! As I always say you have to look at both the successes and failures of other brands to really work out whats going on. A classic example of this is when poorly thought out sponsored posts get hijacked and the only engagement  they get is people complaining about the post being shown to them!!! It is important to consider both the negatives and the positives!

So just to recap why we are doing this – researching our competitors strategies on social media, provides you with an unmatched insight, not only into the social posting habits of the industry but also how their audiences behave.  By conducting a few simple audits you will be able to know exactly what the people want to reach, want to see!

Follow the 10 tips below and you will be well on your way to dissecting and analyzing your competition and building a strategy that is going to get you some seriously high quality results! With no further ado lets begin!

1.) Who Are Your Competitors

You probably already have a good idea of who the top competitors in your space are. It’s important to remember that based on level of activity, these may vary from network to network. Most brands have an active Facebook and Twitter but many do not have an account on other networks like Pinterest , Tumblr , Instagram, YouTube, etc.

Most people will have a solid idea of who their main competitors in their industry are. Obviously not every brand
will be present on every social media platform – it really does depend on the industry. It goes without saying
Nearly all businesses are on social media stalwarts Facebook and Twitter and over time more have reached out
to YouTube, Instagram & Pinterest. Some are on LinkedIn and some are not. Some are experimenting with cutting edge platforms that are yet to be widely accepted such as Snapchat.

You need to use your professional judgement to verify what the main platforms are for your industry and gauge
whether it is worth jumping on a wider range of platforms than your competitors. I personally believe in the early
stages of planning its best to go with what is proven to be working now and expand as you gain more success
on your initial platforms.

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2.) How Do They Voice Their Brand

One key element to analyze whilst looking a brands social media strategy is to see what kind persona they assume when posting! Do they:

  • Post As The Brand
  • Have A Social Ambassador Who Posts On Behalf Of The Brand
  • Have A Team Of Posters Who Finish Posts With Their Individual Names?

Once you have worked out who they post as – the next stage is to work out what kind of voice they post in:

  • Fun, Friendly & Informal
  • Canned Corporate Response
  • Serious
  • Thoughtful and empathetic
  • Helpful
  • Comical

This again varies from industry, to industry! What is an appropriate tone for one industry is not always appropriate for others. I think injecting a bit of fun and humor  into your posts and responses can have some great results and definitely adds a more human element. The main thing to remember is that it has to appear natural and come at the expense of straying from your core message. There is nothing worse than a brand looking like it is trying TOO hard! No body likes a try hard! Aim for human, helpful, sincere with the occasional light humor where appropriate!

3.) Check Out Their Facebook Fan Page

Facebook is important and is often a good reflection of a brands overall “Social Health” here are few key metrics to analyze to gain the insight that you need:

  • Number Of Followers
  • Post Topics
  • Content Origin (Self Created, Re-posted, Shared, Guest or A Mix?)
  • Content Type
  • Frequency Of Posts (Twice Daily Recommended 10.03 & 15.03 Respectively)
  • How Many Likes/Shares/Comments Do Posts Get?
  • Do They Have A “House” Graphical Style

Once you have gone through a few competitors pages, you will begin to see patterns emerging and begin to be able devise a great strategy for your own Facebook Fan Page! I would advise mixing the content styles up to appeal to both your customers, fellow industry professionals as well as beginners. Educational posts provides value that extends beyond peoples interest in your business, Facebook users are very loyal to the pages that provide them this kind of value! Just remember you need to think beyond posting about the brand/business and post material that will compel people to check it out, digest it and then engage with.

4.) How Active Are They Across All Platforms?

This kind of task is pretty hands on and maybe a bit labor intensive for a busy business owner, if that is you then delegate to an outsourced worker , partner or team member! You need to write down all of the platforms they are using and work out on average how many times a day/week/month they are posting. You then need to do this with two other brands working within the space and then find an industry average based on all three! Once you have an average you will have a clear idea of what kind of frequency of posting you need to achieve to be on par with your industry peers!

5.) Analyze Their Twitter Accounts

Twitter is arguably the second most important platform for most brands – in some cases it is the most important! Again this varies from industry to industry. You need to take a look and breakdown:

  • How Many Followers Do They Have
  • How Many People Do They Follow
  • Follow Ratio
  • What Do They Tweet (Same As Facebook Or New Content?)
  • What Voice (Same As Facebook Or Different Tone For Twitter?)
  • Who Tweets (Same Person or Different Person?)
  • What Hash Tags Do They Use?
  • How Many Retweets, Favorites & Engagements Do They Hit?
  • Do They Do Twitter Chats?
  • What Lead Generation Systems Are In Place?

6.) How Do The Brand Engage With Their Fans/Followers? 

You can pick about 10 posts at random and write down how many likes, shares and comments each post got. This will give a rough idea of how the audience respond, but what about how the brand respond to the fans? Two things to bare in mind if you want to be successful are:

  • Remembering To Respond  And Engage
  • Speed of Response And Engagement

I recommend you set aside certain times of day as designated “Engagement Time” – in this time you make sure you that you answer all messages (PMs/DMs/IMs) and respond to all questions and comments made by your followers. Work through everything systematically and try to respond to everyone as quickly as possible.

I would advise monitoring Twitter hourly – if possible as it moves a lot quicker than a majority of other platforms!

7.) What Kind Of Content Do They Post?

Your content strategy and social media strategy need to work seamlessly together to cause maximum impact. If you are not sure about creating a content plan, please check this  post out I put together back in early December Last Year! You will find out everything you need to know!  Try and observe what content type they are posting and what kind of result it is getting them:

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Blog Post
  • Quotes
  • Product Preview
  • Interviews
  • How To Guides
  • Top 10 Guides
  • Polls
  • Trivia
  • User Submitted Content
  • Do They Use Other Brands Content?
  • Are Hashtags or Link Shortening Used?

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8.) Monitor Other Channels:

We have so far touched on the main social networks such as Facebook & Twitter but its worth noting that there are others that definitely need analysis.  With video marketing & video content growing at insane rates – its absolutely critical that you take the time to to look at their Youtube channel:

  • What Content Types Do They Use (IE: Tutorial, Unboxing, Explainer, Interview)?
  • How Brand Focused Is It?
  • Do They Show Company Culture?
  • Do You Meet The Team?
  • How Many Subscribers Do They Have?
  • How Is Their Video Engagement Working Out (Thumbs Up, Comments ???)
  • How Easy Is It To Find Their Content?

Its also worth looking at other video platforms such as Periscope and Meerkat. It is very difficult to analyze these this kind of platforms at the moment – quite simply due to the fact there is a time limit on the life span of the content. Currently this is 24 hours.  Personally I recommend going with Periscope over Meerkat and just start out by becoming an avid viewer – spend a few weeks watching Periscope and look for things like:

  • How Many People Arw In The Broadcasts
  • How Much People Are Chatting
  • How Many Repeat Viewers You See In Future Broadcasts (You Will See Regulars – The Basis Of A Community)
  • How Many Hearts (A Currency Of Respect –  A Bit Like “REP” on A Forum) Do They Get Per Broadcast
  • Do They Ask For Hearts or Do Followers Post Them At Their Own Accord
  • Do They Have  A System To Get You To Keep Watching To The End Of The Broadcast
  • Do They Encourage Replays
  • What Incentives Do They Offer To Keep You Watching?
  • How Do They Get You In To Their List ?

I would also recommend checking out Instagram & Pinterest if its relevant! Instagram is massive opportunity that is a lot bigger than most brands realize! In one of my Facebook groups an agency owner was telling us how he absolutely crushing it with paid shout outs on Twitter and Instagram quote pictures linking back to his squeeze page, he walked us through process and it seems he is getting a great ROI and a ton of leads who really need his services! Its definitely something I am looking to try soon – really simply, no distractions, a lot of interactions and of course people taking action and signing up!

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I have been Gary O’Toole with Sociocaster and I will be back on Wednesday to look at how we can use user generated content to fuel our content strategy, promote growth and increase engagement! Thanks for reading – have a great week and I’ll see you then!

Gary

 

 

 

 

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