Do you want to get started on social media but don’t quite know where to start? The first step, which shouldn’t be neglected, consists in analyzing the competition.
In the field of marketing, many English words are used (even in French contexts!) and one of these keywords is benchmarking.
Benchmarking consists in observing and analyzing direct or indirect competing companies in an effort to extract lessons and best practices. It can be general or focused on several specific channels.
In our case, we will focus on social media benchmarking.
A Method to Select the Competitors to Benchmark
A delicate and very important step lies in choosing the brands that you will turn to for your competitive benchmark. Here are a few tips:
How many competitors to select
First of all, if you have several competitors (which is most likely your case), select the ones that are especially interesting for you to analyze. In the context of a social media strategy, it is preferable to choose 2 to 5 different companies.
Taking several selection factors into account
Several factors must be considered when selecting brands to benchmark. In order to implement an efficient digital strategy, think of selecting brands based on their differences, but also on their complementary aspects. This is all in an effort to conduct the most qualitative benchmark.
Choose companies according to the similarities they share with your brand. It is important to study the competitors whose targets are closest to yours.
If you wish to create the most comprehensive benchmark possible, you must also select a brand that has the same target markets as you, but whose product is a substitute good. Finally, select another competitor that doesn’t have the same reputation as you, but whose visibility, history and community are proof of their quality when managing social networks.
The Steps Involved in Social Media Benchmarking
To conduct quality benchmarking, you will need to follow several very important steps. You’ll first need to understand your competitors in terms of positioning, online reputation and social media objectives. Only then will you be able to examine the typology of their content and their editorial calendars.
Understanding how your main competitors are positioned
If you only have a vague idea of the communication and image you want to spread online, analyze how your competitors are positioned on the Internet. Whether it is for social media networks or for all online channels, this analysis will allow you to situate yourself in relation to the market you wish to be in. You can use this as an opportunity to map out the brands that are in your sector to see things more clearly.
Let’s get back to social media! Check out how your competitors speak to the different communities. Is their tone light-hearted? This analysis will help you see how your future target audience likes being approached and how brands have decided to communicate with this target.
Understanding Social Media Objectives
Once you’ve analyzed how brands position themselves in the same market as you, it will be interesting to study their goals and practices.
There can in fact be several reasons for brands to be on social media. We have identified 7 of them:
- Communicating information relating to the business: a shop closing, invitations to an event, presence at a fair…
- Developing one’s notoriety: making calls, encouraging comments, sharing, liking…
- Engaging in commercial communication: presenting new products and promotions, showcasing products or services.
- Search Engine Optimization: brand fan pages are referenced on Google.
- Communicating on the employment brand: finding new potential employees and presenting the business to promote hiring.
- Providing personalized after-sales support: using private messaging and answering comments on products and services
- Displaying the company’s expertise: promoting the brand’s quality and know-how by spreading information (videos, articles, webinars…).
This step will allow you to take in the best practices of your “challengers” and see how they present themselves online.
Use this step as an opportunity to look at the various bios, for example.
Scrutinize the types of content produced by your competitors
Studying the brands’ content will allow you to shed light on the types of content (videos, images, texts) that have the best engagement rate.
This step is very important, since it also allows you to see which types of content work best for your target.
“How can you know which types of content are interesting to your target audience? By benchmarking your competitors!”
While you’re looking at the different types of content and trying to sort them based on different themes, you’ll also want to look at the frequency and hours of publication. You can use this information as inspiration when you start publishing content, and then later adapt your strategy depending on your target’s engagement at different times of the day.
By classifying the different publications according to their typology, the recurring themes that work best for your target audience will become more obvious.
Here are a few examples of themes:
- Competitions and riddles
- Utilizing shopping holidays
- Tips and advice
- Explaining a word or an expression in relation to the product, the service or the target
Of course, these themes are bound to change depending on your targets and on the social platforms. We don’t communicate in the same way or about the same things on Facebook or on Twitter, for example.
How your target audience behaves and on which social networks it connects
You will quickly see which social networks your competitors use the most when conducting research on them.
Analyze the number of interactions your competitors have with their communities on each social platform, determine whether the communities are active or not, and if it is worth positioning yourself on a given social network.
At this step, it is also interesting to study the figures for the various social networks. You could end up choosing one social network over another after having analyzed the demographics as well as the typology of internet users on the various platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter… you can conduct a benchmark irrespective of the platform.
The main thing is to try to understand the brand’s presence as much as possible so that you can get inspired by it and establish your own Social Media Optimization strategy.
To summarize, benchmarking is a crucial step for you to gain an overview of your competitors and their community management strategies.
Choose the brands you’ll analyze wisely, and study (at least) these elements:
- The brand’s positioning
- The choice of media channels
- The objectives
- The tone used to communicate
- The types of content used
- The number of publications and the editorial calendar
You will definitely learn a lot from studying what other brands do in your sector. Then, you can create your own social media strategy by only keeping the best advice! Now it’s your turn to try it all out 😉