One of the great things about social media is that it provides a window you can look through to see what a business is really all about.
A business’s Facebook or Twitter stream is often very revealing, both in what they do and what they don’t show!
And make no mistake about it, those companies that use social media well over the next 5 years are far more likely to survive than those that don’t!
There are several ways to measure yourself against your competition, but the most important thing to remember while doing this is that you are not them, your goals, dreams and passions may well be different from theirs, and, at the end of the day these are what’s important.
With that in mind it is good to see what others are doing, first make a list of your competitors split into two sections – those that you admire and respect, and those that you don’t. Do keep an open mind at this point though, you may find this exercise causes you to revise your opinion in some cases!
Then look and see if they are active on social media sites, to do this I recommend starting with their websites to see if they are promoting their social media activities, however don’t be fooled if a website doesn’t have a ‘find us on Facebook’ button, it may be simply that they haven’t integrated their social media activity with other parts of their marketing yet. At this point it is a good idea to start a spreadsheet so you can really see what’s going on.
Now note which social media sites they are active on, and whether their activity seems to be successful. Numbers are one indicator of success, but this is social media so the other factor that can’t be ignored is engagement.
Their Facebook page shows this quite clearly for all to see, when you look at a page it tells you how many people have ‘liked’ it and how many people are ‘talking about this’. As discussed here not all those that like a page will be vocal about it, so a page with over 5% engagement is doing something right!
For Twitter it is much harder to see but there is a tool I use when I am auditing for my clients (I always check their competition too!) to help you with this.
Twtrland allows you to enter any twitter ID to see what they are doing and achieving on there. It is designed for people considering whether or not an account is worth following. I use it to audit myself regularly to make sure I am achieving my own goals on twitter. You can see my April audit below and i’m sure you can see that used in the context of checking out your competitors it is very enlightening.
As you can see it tells you how often an account is tweeting, what proportion of their tweets are @replies or mentions, how many have links in etc. But it goes beyond that and also tells you how frequently they retweet others or get retweeted themselves! It also looks at their ‘most famous’ tweets. These are the tweets that have been re-tweeted the most, very useful information!
While Twitter and Facebook are still the cornerstones of social media don’t forget there are many other places to look too, do your competitors use YouTube? If so how many subscribers and video views do they have? Which videos have had the most views?
And are they on LinkedIn? How many connections do they have there? What about their blog? Do people comment regularly? Are they ranked higher than you for your chosen keywords? And don’t forget FourSquare, YouTube, Pinterest and niche social media sites too.
Now, use this information as inspiration!
If your competitors have more twitter followers than you, use it to give yourself that kick to work harder! If they are failing on facebook compared to you, look at what you are doing that they are not, and do more of it!
There’s no need for the competition to get dirty however, that will just lose you followers! And certainly don’t think about stealing customers from your competition, I do not recommend that at all! Apart from the fact it will turn you into a nasty person, it is also very expensive and time consuming trying to lure a loyal customer of someone else’s court and into yours.
Besides that, although they may be ‘the competition’ they could become collaborators or even refer business to you in the future!
Remembering your own goals is key in all this, and competing fairly. Your competition may have 10,000 followers on twitter but there are more than 10,000 other people on twitter that may want to follow you too, so get out there and be social before you miss the boat entirely!
Over to you, have you ever looked at a competitors Facebook page or twitter account? What did you learn from the experience?