Use Social Listening to Better Understand Your Industry and Competitors
At the most basic level, social media monitoring and analysis will show you what messages, content and tactics competitors in your industry use and how their audiences respond. You can use these insights to inform your own communications strategy, whether it’s to directly compete with them or to simply pivot the strategies you’re using.
Synthesizing these conversations enables you to identify what resonates, and what doesn’t, within your industry. This ultimately helps you gain an understanding of how to shift content strategies to engage with your target audiences.
Here are four steps to better understand your industry through social analysis:
Step 1: Plan in Advance
The key to being able to react quickly to social media involves taking time to think about and set up your program to get the relevant, valuable data you need.
To make analysis easier, structure your data and listening focus around the user handles, topic hashtags and industry keywords you want to evaluate. Analyze even the smallest competitors because the biggest innovation and disruptors could be coming from them. To build those filters, speak with subject matter experts or third-party analysts, like Cision, who can help with consulting on what’s important for your branding and communication needs, while utilizing best practices to ensure you have a system optimized to bring in the most relevant content.
Step 2: Cast a Wide Net
One mistake many make in social analysis is focusing only on the branded conversation. Traditionally brands look at themselves and their competitors but are missing opportunities at thematic or industry levels to uncover emerging issues, up-and-coming competitors and unmet needs of consumers. Social media provides such a vital resource comms can tap into to maintain or gain a competitive advantage.
Remember, people may not mention your brand by name or use the hashtag you so carefully crafted. Cast a wide net to include misspellings and parodies of your brand’s name to better enable you to catch all that is relevant.
For example, if your brand needed to identify new potential customers, you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to those already interacting with your social posts. With a strategic social analysis program, you could focus on conversations around similar topics and among competitors’ followers to understand what motivates people to get involved in the discussion. Pinpointing those motivators enables your brand to expand its communication and content strategies to include them, thereby increasing the size of your audience and eventually your customer base.
Step 3: Benchmark Against Competitors
Understanding the performance of your campaigns and engagements versus your competitors provides an idea of the true effectiveness of your communication.
For example, if you’re only focusing on share of voice, you may think you’re losing the social media battle. But without moving past the quantifiable data to the quality data you won’t be able to truly know how your brand stacks up against your competitors.
Your analysis should include looking into how often your competitors post on social media, what do they like or favorite, what types of posts do they comment on, how they respond to their audiences as well as the type—and context—of content distributed.
Step 4: Analyze Pre/Post Campaign
Just because an event or a campaign might last only days or weeks, if it’s successful, it will have ripples for days or weeks after. It’s best to analyze for at least two to three times as long as you think the conversation will be happening, even if that's after the campaign has ended.
Even if there isn’t a lot of buzz about the event long after its conclusion, you may be able to use the remaining chatter to pinpoint those who are truly engaged and cater future campaigns or messages to them.
Social Media’s Importance Poised to Grow
Eighty-eight percent of 18-29-year-olds indicate that they use some form of social media in 2018. That share falls with older age groups, but social media growth has increased in general over the past few years.
Millennials and Gen Z are making social the primary means of communication, and for the most part, older generations are accepting social media as a necessary part of daily life too.
This will only become more prevalent as social platforms develop new ways to engage consumers. Social intelligence is important today but is going to play an exponentially greater role in business and it will happen in short order. Today more than 60 percent of North Americans use social media. In a generation, that will be closer to 100 percent. Are your teams in position to keep up with social?
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