Instagram marketing

How to Track Your Competitor’s Social Media Strategy 

  • 11 Minutes
Tracking your competitors isn’t creepy. It’s a business essential. If you really want to make your social media presence better, it’s time to monitor competitors,and learn from them. A competitive analysis of your competitors’ social media will give you a clear picture

Tracking your competitors isn’t creepy. It’s a business essential.

If you really want to make your social media presence better, it’s time to monitor competitors,and learn from them. A competitive analysis of your competitors’ social media will give you a clear picture of what they’re upto on social media. This can help you emulate their success but more importantly, avoid their failures too. 

Data is what greases the wheels of a social media marketing campaign and a competitive analysis helps your brand gather this data and make the tactical decisions that ensure winning content and campaigns on social media. From smaller details like their follower count to entire marketing campaigns, a thorough analysis will help you track competitors across multiple social media platforms. 

In this guide we discuss seven key strategies to help you get started with effectively monitoring the competition and use it as a strategic advantage for your own social media strategy.

Start with a social media audit

Data analysis and crunching numbers isn’t always the most glamorous part of social media marketing, but it’s an important skill to have when it comes to delivering key insights. Your findings could be invaluable to your business.

If you want to track competitors on social media, you need to start with a social media audit. An audit is an opportunity to collect data about your competitors and then use it to track and analyze their performance.

During your audit, collect as much data as possible about your competitors’ social media presence. There are some great social media analytics tools that can help you with this (we discuss them below). From demographics to the number of likes and followers, you should collect any and every bit of information you can find about your competitors’ social media accounts. 

The data you collect during your audit will be key for creating and optimizing your own marketing strategy. 

7 competitive analysis strategies to monitor competitors on social media

Once you’re done with a thorough audit of your top competitors’ social media channels, it’s time to get to work. Here are some competitive analysis strategies you can put to work to track and monitor competitors and their activity on social media.

Follow their social media accounts

This is obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t do it. If you want to keep up with your competitors’ content and social media activity, you have to follow their accounts on all relevant social platforms. Turn on your notifications too if you want to track them in real-time. 

How many platforms you follow them on is up to you but make sure you’re tracking them on social network that is important for your industry and your target audience. So if you’re a B2B business, you may want to follow your competitors’ LinkedIn pages to see what they’re posting. If you’re a retail business, your platforms of choice may be Instagram or TikTok. 

Of course, don’t just follow and forget. Remember, you’re following for strategic reasons. Keep an eye on what they’re posting and see what’s working for them and what’s not quite resonating with the audience. If they’re doing something different than you and it seems to be working really well, take notes so you can later think about how to incorporate it into your own social media strategy.

If you don’t want to manually follow them, social media competitor analysis tools can actually help you keep up with competitor activity. More on this below.

Sign up to their email updates

Email blasts and newsletters are another great way to keep up with your competitors’ news. While it’s not social media, it’s still an important part of most marketing strategies. Consider subscribing to your competitor’s website using a personal email address (it’s more discreet.)

By signing up to their email updates, you can learn a lot about their marketing campaigns, tone of voice, promotions, company culture and more. It’s a great insight into a brand’s marketing strategies and could be helpful for better understanding their social marketing campaigns too. These insights and analyses could then be beneficial for crafting your own marketing strategy. 

Review their best performing social media content

Content is and has always been king. When you monitor competitors on social media, you can’t leave their content marketing behind. 

Start by taking notes on the types of content they share. Do they share more photos, graphics or video? What are their main themes or topics? 

Once you have an idea of the types of content, it’s also important that you understand how each type is performing. While you obviously won’t have access to their internal data, you can make your own calculations to figure out the engagement rates on their content.

Content with higher engagement (likes, comments, shares etc) is their best performing content and therefore, the content you must pay attention to. Analayze what makes this content so appealing to the competitors’ audience. Gathering these insights will not only help you understand your audience better but will also be helpful when planning your own content strategy. A social media monitoring tool like BuzzSumo could make this much easier to track. We discuss this further below. 

Don’t forget to also analyze their hashtag strategy. Hashtags are an important part of most social media content. If your competitors create branded hashtags, analyze how these tags are being used and whether the community also embraces and uses these hashtags. This hashtag research will come in handy when you’re trying to come up with your own hashtag sets for sharing and amplifying your content.

While your own content strategy should be unique and tailored specifically for your brand, seeing what a competitor is doing can be very helpful. By analzying your top competitors’ best performing content, you will learn how to also create content that resonates with your target audience. 

Make use of social listening

What better to learn about your competitors’ brand reputation than directly from the competitor’s audience.

Social listening is the practice of tracking mentions and conversations related to a brand on social media.  Businesses will often set up social listening to monitor conversations about their own brand and their competitors’. You can then use the insights gleaned from this listening to find new opportunities and optimize your marketing strategy.

Social media monitoring tools can help make social listening a more automated process.Check out tools like Mention to learn more. You can also use Google Alerts to track mentions on Google, some social media and also forums.

Listening tools can help you see what your target audience is saying about your competitors on social media. If they’re saying something positive, it’s an opportunity for you to learn how you can invite similar conversations. If they’re complaining, it could be an opportunity for you to jump in and offer a better experience. Either way, social listening is an important, strategic way to track competitors’ social media and learn from it.

Monitor their influencer marketing efforts

Social media marketing and influencer marketing go hand in hand these days. Your competitors are probably working with influencers and this is your opportunity to spy on them to see if their efforts are actually paying off. 

Identify the influencers they’re working with. If you really want to learn more about the influencers’ impact, analyze their social media presence as well and see if they’re truly able to deliver value to your competitors. 

Review the types of collaboration. Some influencers create unique content on behalf of brands. Others simply promote the brand’s product or service on their channel. This analysis may give you some ideas but it may also help you identify some gaps to see how you can improve on things.

If you haven’t already tried influencer marketing, there’s no time like the present. Influencer marketing strategies could be the one thing to take your brand’s social media presence up a notch. Learn from your competitor’s successes (and failures) to refine and implement your own strategy.

Perform a SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

A SWOT analysis is a popular business and strategic planning tool. It’s helpful to assesshe strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing  your business. In this case, you’d be using the tool to analyz e your competitors’ business. In fact, a SWOT analysis can be a very handy tool for analyzing your competitors’ performance on social networks. 

Developing a competitor SWOT analysis can help you look at your own business in a new way and from different directions. It can also help you to create or fine tune your social media strategy and prioritize areas for growth to achieve your business goals.

We highly recommend that you also do a SWOT analysis of your own business as this will help you truly compare your own performance against your competitors’. Remember, a good SWOT analysis isn’t just about recording data. It’s about taking a good hard look at your social media data, and analyzing it deeply. This is the only way it will be truly beneficial.

Never done a SWOT analysis before? Not sure how to identify strengths, weaknesses or any of the other elements? Maybe some examples will help.

  • Your competitor has a strong brand voice on social media. This is a strength.
  • They don’t post consistently on Instagram. This is a weakness. This could also be viewed as an opportunity on your own SWOT. 
  • Their newly launched YouTube channel seems to be really hitting the mark with their audience. This is an opportunity for growth for them, and could be a threat for you too.
  • Customers are complaining about the brand a lot. This ia threat for them and potentially an opportunity for you. 

Don’t rush through the SWOT analysis. Take the data gathered from your social media audit and examine it deeply. Think about every piece of information and then try to classify it intot he right SWOT grid. 

Check out our SWOT template below to learn how to organize your information in a way that allows you to easily view and compare all the points.

SWOT ANALYSIS TEMPLATE

STRENGTHS
WEAKNESSES
OPPORTUNITIES
THREATS

Invest in monitoring and analytics tools

We’ve mentioned competitor analysis tools a few times already. Keeping up with your competitors on social media can be a tedious and time consuming process. 

Competitive analysis tools can be helpful for collecting, and analyzing your competitor data more efficiently and showing you how you stack up against them.

With the right tools in your arsenal, you will spend less time manually collecting data, and more time actually putting the data to work to improve your social media marketing efforts.

Investing in these tools will give you more than just follower count and demographic data. While important, these tools can help you dive much deeper. Depending on the tool you’re using, you may be able to tap into publicly available social conversations to also determine share of voice (your competitors and your own). 

You can also use the tools to run a sentiment analysis on these conversations. This will help you see whether your target audience feels positively or negatively about your competitors. And of course, you as well.

As you probably already know, the social media landscape is packed full of tools. But here are some of the most popular and useful tools for competitive analysis:

Don’t forget to track your own social media metrics 

It’s important to track your competitors’ activity on social media. However, to truly put it to work for you, you need to benchmark it against your own metrics too.

Sked Social is a social media management and scheduling too for Instagraml, with powerful analytics features. Sked will not only track and analyze your own Instagram analytics, it also lets you track up to 4 competitors and see how your account is comparing across a lot of metrics, including top posts, engagement rates, content styles, follower growth and more.

Learn more about Sked Social with a free 7-day trial today.

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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