Instagram marketing

How to Target Your Competitors’ Audiences on Social Media

  • 14 Minutes
Their followers? More like your future followers.

News flash: Facebook and Instagram have some of the best targeting options out there for advertisers. In fact, the platform gives businesses the ability to target over 1.5 billion people! But, with such a large audience available, there are many ways that your targeting can go wildly wrong if you don’t create airtight targeting tactics to boost your social media advertising efforts.

Targeting the wrong audience groups can blow out the cost of your campaigns to eye-watering proportions. And, when this happens, you’ll probably waste a lot of time fiddling around trying to fix your mistakes rather than making money from your ads. Instead of allowing that to happen, it’s far easier to take the time to set up your targeting the right way, to begin with.

Leveraging your competitors’ audience can be a highly effective strategy that helps you boost your efforts on social media and smash your objectives. If you can tap into the right custom audiences, you’ll be able to amplify your results and achieve cost-effective campaigns, time after time. If you can learn to target your competitors’ audiences well, you might even be able to steal market share from them, beating them at their own game.

So, how do you optimize your social media advertising campaigns and target your competitors’ audience? Keep scrolling to find out!

Why Should You Target Your Competitors’ Audience?

If you haven’t started using Facebook Ads Manager, it’s time to learn! Of course, you can hire an expert or an agency to do it for you, but sometimes it can be more cost-effective to just do it yourself. It’s totally up to you. Either way, it’s imperative that you understand exactly what kind of capabilities this magical platform contains!

Facebook Ads Manager is free and is part of Facebook Business Manager. If you haven’t yet set up a business account on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll want to set that up first. If you want to learn more you can complete a series of short courses over at Meta Blueprint, and learn about the fundamentals of social media advertising.

If you’re ready to rock and roll, then let’s get into it! Targeting your competitors’ fans can be super helpful, depending on your business and its competitors. After all, you know that your competitors’ target audience is already interested in products or services like yours, and they may already have heard of your brand. Unless your products or services are vastly different from your competitors, it’s safe to assume that their audience will be just as interested in what you have to offer.

Remember; social media targeting is all about efficiency. Better targeting will help you supercharge your campaigns so you can connect with a greater number of people at a lower rate. Whether your objective is to get more Instagram followers, boost your leads, or score more conversions, ultimately, optimizing your targeting will help you boost your results and improve cost-effectiveness across all your ad sets, no matter what the objective. So it’s definitely worth experimenting with.

Of course, not all audiences are going to care about your brand or your products. And it’s not just about the targeting. Unless you target people with relevant content that genuinely interests them, you still won’t be able to gain traction and improve your results.

A competitor audience’s interest in your specific business or products and services will depend on a number of factors, which we’ll get into next!

How to Target Your Competitors’ Audience

Ready to start leveling up your social media advertising targeting and boosting your results? Hold on to your hats and get ready to dive in!

1.  Define Your Competitors

First of all, you need to understand exactly who your competitors are, and who their target audiences are. Remember, your competitors may look like they’re doing well on social, but they might have a large international audience, or they may have even tapped into an obscure audience sub-group that you’re not even aware of. They might be getting high engagement rates and then struggling to actually convert any of that to leads or sales. Their audience may be highly engaged with their content but less interested in their actual products or services. This is all important to keep in mind when you’re considering targeting your competitors’ Instagram followers and Facebook fans.

Also, remember that your competitor’s target audience may be different from their actual customers, so there might be a disconnect between their content and their audience. They might get the bulk of their customers through other channels like email marketing or Google Ads but they’re just trying new things on social media to tap into a new audience. Don’t assume that they’re raking in sales from social media alone, because that might not be the case.

So, who are your competitors? You should have at least a few. Remember, they don’t need to be strictly related to your business, or sell the exact same products. If you’re a vegan skincare brand, your competitors might include natural skincare brands, vegan makeup brands, or even other skincare brands sold in your country.

Here’s how to find your competitors:

  • These are brands in your industry who sell the same (or very similar) products as you. Ideally, they also operate in the same country as you. You have probably already identified these competitors in the past.
  • These businesses may not be in your direct industry; however, they may share very similar targeting based on your audience’s demographics. So, if we revisit the example above, the skincare business might share very similar audiences as a make-up brand or even a clothing brand.

So, how do you research your competitors?

If you’re a new brand and you have no idea who your competitors might be, this might be a little harder. Start doing some research on social media using different keywords and hashtags, or simply use Google to search for brands in your area.

If you started doing some initial research when you launched your brand, you should already have a fairly good idea of where to start. If you already have an established business and have customers that you can chat to, why not ask them where they shop?

Also, keep in mind that your competitors might not just be businesses. They might also be influences, thought leaders, or public figures. They may not be competing for your brand’s profit share, but they’re still competing for your audience’s attention.

2.  Find Your Competitors’ Audiences

From here, you can explore your competitors’ audiences using Facebook Audience Insights. Remember these insights also cover audiences on Instagram, as the two social media platforms are owned by Meta.

To get started, in Meta Insights within your Facebook Business Manager profile, simply select Audience Insights.

As soon as your login you’ll see the main dashboard featuring your potential audience within Facebook and its associated platforms. From here, click on the filter button. Add your target audience details, including the country you’re targeting, as well as any major details to do with your target demographic. But the most important filter to concentrate on here is the interests tab. If you search for different interests, you may even be able to find your competitors, especially if they’re large brands. For example, if you were a baby food brand, you would be able to see the baby food company called Bellamy’s Organic. Or, if you’re a skincare brand, like in the example above, you’ll be able to use research brands such as Dove and Nivea.

If we use Nivea as an example, and we’re looking at only the United States, we can see that most of their audience is female (85%). More importantly, we can also check out what other interests those users have on social media. This can tell us a lot about who the audience is, where we might find them on social media, and more importantly, how we can get them interested in different kinds of social media content.

From Facebook Audience Insights, we can see that fans of Nivea are also interested in Tasty and Delish, which are news media companies focused on food-related content and recipes. They’re also interested in Walmart, Target, and Macy’s. If you wanted to leverage Nivea’s audience, could use this information to build buyer personas or even create content and shape our social media strategy.

But luckily, there’s an even easier way to target our competitors’ audiences on Facebook and Instagram. To target any competitor’s audience, simply add their name into the Interests tab, add your location and any other details, and hit “Create Audience”. From then on, you’ll be able to access this saved audience whenever you create Facebook or Instagram ads in Facebook Ads Manager. The only difficulty with this is that only major brands are saved within Facebook Ads Manager. So, while you’ll be able to find major brands like Nivea and Target, it may be much more difficult to find lesser-known brands.

If you can’t find your specific competitor within Facebook Audience Insights, you could always search for another similar brand, or move on to some of the other tactics below.

3.  Dig Deeper

Once you’ve established a list of your main competitors and learned about their basic characteristics, it’s time to dig a little deeper. You’ll want to learn everything about your competitors’ audience, including where they’re from, what their basic demographics are, and what their interests are. This will help you discover how to target them. And pretty soon you’ll be engaging with more Facebook and Instagram users in a meaningful way.

Aside from Facebook Audience Insights, there are plenty more social media marketing tools available that can help you hone in on who your competitors’ target audiences are and what they’re interested in.

  • You could just do a good, old-fashioned social media stalk. That’s right – hop onto one of your competitor’s Instagram profile or Facebook page and read their post comments. You’ll be able to discover what their audience likes, learn about their pain points, and even see where they’re from and who they are. Sure, trawling their Instagram account might take time, but it will provide you with information that could help you inform your targeting.
  • Your competitors are likely to be businesses that your existing customer base has shopped with before. In fact, they may even still shop with these brands. Therefore, you could even run a survey with your existing customers, offering a prize as an incentive to find out more about your competitors. For instance, do your customers also shop with your competitors? If so, why? You’ll probably find that once you start researching, you’ll start to create a larger list of competitors which will only help you in the long run.
  • Our advanced Instagram reporting analytics can provide valuable information on your competitors. It can tell you when your competitors are posting, what kind of content they’re posting, and how often. This way, you’ll be able to see which strategies are resonating with their audience. You can see which posts types, for example videos, link posts or carousels, works the best. You can also see which themes resonate the most with their audience. You can only check to see how their content differs and whether they post different things on Instagram that on Facebook.

4.  Refine Your Targeting

Once you’ve done a deep dive into your competitors, you should have a fairly good idea of how to target a similar audience.

That said, there are some simple tried and tested ways to structure your targeting and organize your audiences. Here they are:

Now that you’ve created your audiences, you can get started with creating your ads. Let’s explore the best way to do that.

5.  Conduct Split Tests

If you’re just starting out with Facebook and Instagram ads, you’ll need to do a lot of testing to learn more about your audience and what they like. You’ll need to test different targeting groups, different copy and creatives, different placements, and even different social media platforms. Split testing is like conducting a science experiment. You have your one control experiment, and then you’ll need to conduct split tests with different elements. Over time, you’ll be tweaking different aspects of your ads to get the best result possible. This is called optimization.

The result? Cost-effective, relevant ads that should help you achieve your social media objectives faster than ever.

To start split testing, you’ll want to test all the audiences that you’ve just created. Test all your different audiences, but keep the other aspects of your ad exactly the same such as the ad creative, the budget, and the placements. Ideally, you should test all your audiences at the same time using different ad sets, otherwise, you won’t know if variations in your results are due to the audiences or simply the time the ads ran. Test a number of different creatives, but ensure that you test the same creatives for each ad.

You might find the different creatives work best with different audiences, which can be a valuable insight in itself. Some audiences might prefer video while others might prefer a static image. Gather as many insights as you can.

The most important result you need to look at, however, is cost efficiency. Ideally, you want to focus on the most cost-effective audiences in order to maximize your results in the long term.

The Importance of Reporting

Establishing the right social media audience is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comprehensive social media advertising. Even if you do find the right audience, you need to ensure that you are conducting ongoing reporting and optimization to maintain low costs and ensure ongoing cost efficiencies. After all, if your ad sets start to increase in costs, you may be targeting the wrong audience group or you might be using the wrong creatives for that group. Let’s be real – you might even be using the wrong social media platform!

Either way, you’ll never know unless you implement a comprehensive social media management tool that provides you with the insights you need to feed your digital marketing strategy.

Take the time before launching your ad campaign to set your social media objectives and decide on the metrics you’ll use to measure your campaign. After the ad campaign is complete, perform a thorough post-campaign analysis. Calculate your return on ad spend (ROAS) and see which audience is the most cost-effective.

It’s Time to Level Up Your Social Media Targeting

Ready to boost your Facebook and Instagram marketing strategies? The wrong social media targeting can blow out your costs exponentially. Streamlining your targeting can be instrumental in lowering the cost of your ads and boosting your results sky high. But it’s crucial that you have the tools to make that happen and the insights that will help you continually improve your ad sets and ultimately see results.

High-performance social media scheduling tools like Sked Social can offer unique insights into your competitors and their audiences. Not only does it have advanced reporting functionality, b utit also includes a social media scheduler, which allows you to automatically schedule social media posts for your Instagram page as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, and plenty of other social networks, saving you hours each week! It even lets you add location tags, Instagram hashtags, and shopping tags on Instagram.

Sked Social is an all-in-one Instagram analytics tool with powerful scheduling capabilities and advanced reporting functions which can help you hone in on the most important audiences, and optimize campaign performance in an ongoing capacity. Its reporting features will enable you to create automated reports for each campaign, so you can spot the trends that will help transform your campaigns and refine your social media marketing strategy. Get started by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial.

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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