Behind Enemy Lines: The Social Media Conversation About Your Competitors

Which topics are driving the conversation about your competitors?

Imagine a world where you could watch your consumers interact with your competitors’ products. What do they say when they open them? Or when they see a new commercial? These unsolicited, unvarnished bits of feedback would be invaluable at helping you understand what your competitors do well and, more importantly, what you can do to make your own brand stand out.

Well you’re in luck. Those types of natural consumer reactions are everywhere on social media. Unboxing videos, first impressions, new product requests — these are all common conversations on social media and online forums.

The smartest brands aren’t only listening to these conversations about their own companies, but also about the companies they compete with.

In this post, we’ll explain how brands can use social media data about their competitors to help them uncover the key conversation drivers so they can:

  •      Identify what customers love about their competitors’ products
  •      Understand how specific campaigns and messaging from your competitors are affecting the conversation

What Customers Love About Their Competitors’ Products

People spend a lot of time on social media. And they talk a lot about the things they like, love and hate. It’s the best place to look for insights into how they feel about a product, topic or a brand.

You may be missing a lot of critical insights, though, if you are only looking at a brand’s social accounts. If you want to know how your competitors’ customers feel about their products, you need to look past the competitors’ social channels to the audiences themselves. You need to look at the larger, unbranded conversation to understand, holistically, what’s propelling the discussion.

To do this, you need to conduct searches using keywords, hashtags and other topic-focused approaches. Search for all mentions of a competitor’s brand name or product name. If a competitor has a tagline or a common phrase they use in their marketing search for that. If they regularly use a set of hashtags, search for those. Then analyze the results by audience. Are certain groups more likely to talk about battery life in phones than others? Do consumers care more about fuel efficiency or safety when discussing cars?

For keywords and hashtags, you can analyze how the competitor ranks against them. Are they at the top of the list? Analyze how they use that keyword or hashtag to see if there are common themes or messages that you could also use in your own messaging.

You should also conduct a wider search. Customers don’t always mention a brand or a product by name, which means you have to dig a little deeper to find out what they are saying about a brand.

Also, analyze the sentiment of posts to understand if the brand is perceived positively. Where you find negative sentiment, look at what customers are saying and see if there’s an opportunity to add your voice to the conversation that would make your competitors’ customers look at your products.

Understanding Campaign and Messaging Impact

When you run a campaign or create new messaging, you want to generate engagement and conversations. You analyze the impact of your campaigns regularly. But your campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum — your competitors are always also trying out new messaging and launching new campaigns. Now it’s time to understand how your competitors’ campaigns and messaging are affecting the larger conversation.

Analyze the top performing posts for each competitor, map out the keywords or topics, media and channels used. Identify if the post is for a campaign or product. Look not only for positive responses but negative or no responses as well.

When you break down the analysis by campaign, you can see how well that campaign did for the competitor. In your analysis, identify which messages performed best, and which generated the most positive, and negative, feedback. .

When you look at both positive and negative sentiment you can use it to evaluate your campaigns and messaging. Maybe you are using messaging that isn’t generating any response at all. When you analyze similar messaging from a competitor, you might see negative feedback that could explain why it’s not working for you.

Likewise, you may see product messaging from a competitor that generating a lot of conversation, but you don’t use it at all. Analyzing which audience is responding best and what they are saying will help you map out an approach to use it yourself.

Conversations are Key

Knowing how your competitors’ customers feel about them and their products can tell you so much about what you can do to win them over. Key messaging and campaigns, alternative approaches to how you talk to them, as well as insights for product development, are all critical to understand.

You also no longer need to guess at what your competitors’ marketing strategies are. You may not have the full strategy in your hands, but examining their social media channels can tell you a lot. Use that information to inform your strategies – what to do and what not to do.

For more information, download the full guide Turning Social Media Data into Competitive Intelligence

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