Disclaimer: Thorough research into your competitors is important, even crucial to your success. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Finding a partner with the tools and experience to sift through mounds of data, collect the right intel and analyze your adversaries gives you the best chance to “zag” against their “zig.”
Still, there are instances where timelines and resources aren’t available to adequately assess your competitors. Use these tips when you’re in a pinch to understand how your competition is attracting and retaining customers.
Facebook stalking or creeping. We’ve all done it at least once. That is, we’ve searched for someone on social media to learn about who they are, based on what they post. Unlike people, who may or may not restrict access to what they share, brands are wide open. Knowing what to look for on a brand’s social presence can provide basic insights into their overall brand strategy, content strategy, customer service and more.
How can you glean information about competitors on Facebook alone? Here’s what matters:
- Don’t Worry (Too Much) About Overall “Likes” Friends and followers can be bought. The success of an organization should be measured by overall engagement – not overall subscribers. Look at your competitors’ posts. Are they spewing content while only getting few comments or “likes”? If so, that’s good news for you. This means your competitors aren’t catering to their customers. They may have a lot of subscribers, but not a lot of listeners.
- Too Many Rainbows, Not Enough Gray Clouds No organization receives zero negative comments. (Even the Sistine Chapel has poor reviews on Yelp.) If you scroll through a competitor’s profile and only see glowing responses, chances are they’re deleting the negative feedback. You win again. Good companies acknowledge mistakes, and use social media as an opportunity to do something about it. This insight is two-fold:
- The omission of negative information gives you an opportunity to display better customer service than your competitors do.
- If your competitors do respond to disgruntled customers, you can see the flaws in their product or service. Creeping for the win!
- Timing, Tone and Taste
Before social, tracking competitors’ messages was a labor-intensive process. An organization had to keep tabs on all sorts of traditional media – clipping ads out of newspapers and magazines, remembering radio and TV commercials, maintaining a file of brochures and direct mailers, etc. While it’s not a bad idea to keep a case history, a jaunt over to Facebook can expedite the assessment and more.Facebook is a natural archive. You can see what your competitors posted and when. Did they have a time-sensitive promotion? What was the offer? How did they position the value of their product or service? What product or service do they promote most? Know this, and you can find a new angle or go head-to-head to demonstrate better value.What’s their tone? Are they funny, edgy or community focused? Are they throwing in anything and everything to garner attention? If you see the latter, you know they have weaknesses in their core brand promise.
- Followers Are the New Census
The industry is moving away from demographics and focusing on the mindset of the individual, specifically where they are in the customer journey. Interactions on social can give you the best of both worlds.Again, the number of followers isn’t nearly as important as the number of participants in the conversation. Look at those, and you can begin to understand part of your competitors’ customer base. For example, looking at demographics, are most male or female? Young or old? Can you estimate education levels based on how they write?Peeking at the interactions themselves can provide insight into what resonates with your competitors’ customers, too. Do they profess love for certain products? Why? Have complaints? Share stories? Are they recommending things to a friend? Or engaged in an online promotion?
When it comes to Facebook creeping your competitors, remember – the information is only a starting point. And just as important, it should make you want to be different. Following trends won’t get you followers – especially if you’re digging deep into the archives. Learn what you can to set yourself apart. Know who you are as a brand, and be yourself.
And now that you have an excuse to peruse Facebook at the office? Use it to your advantage.