4 Ways To Use Big Data To Monitor Competitors On Social Media

If you're looking to see what your competitors on social media are up to, big data is a major tool in better understanding their habits.

November 22, 2018
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Big data has brought countless benefits to brands across the globe. Most of our articles here on Smart Data Collective focus on the benefits of marketing and customer service. However, big data can be equally beneficial for conducting competitive analyses, and can be used to monitor competitors on social media. Social media has provided a goldmine of data on your competitors. The trick is knowing that to look for.

How Can You Use Social Media for Data Mining?

Mining data on your competitors is easier than ever with social media. But where do you start?

You do not want to be that one brand who purchases fake followers and likes on social media to make yourself seem more legitimate. Not only is doing so unethical, but it will also come back to bite you. Internet users are becoming increasingly adept at identifying which accounts are trying desperately to convince them to click the “follow” button (one of the most noticeable red flags is when an account has thousands of followers, but very few likes per post—engagement is just as crucial, if not more so, than follower count to expanding your brand).

No, you need to build your audience organically. Doing so can be an intricate and time-consuming process, though. Rather than do it all by trial and error, you have prime role models you can turn to–your competitors. You are all after the same thing, so looking at what works and does not work for them can help you adjust your social media efforts into the most effective strategy it can be. What are the best ways to monitor competitors, and what should your takeaways be?

Identify who your competitors are

The first step, of course, is identifying who your competitors are. Your big data analytics strategy won’t do you any good otherwise. Not because you did not already know one or two companies that offer the same product, service, or content as you, but because you may not know all the players on the board. Use Google to find them: search key phrases you hope people will ultimately use to find you. You do not have to concern yourself too much with the individuals or organizations are not particularly active online, though; you should focus on those that invest in social media.

Learn from their strategies

Once you know who to keep an eye on, pay attention to everything they do. There are analytics tools that can capture data as it comes in.  What kind of content do they produce and re-share, and how successful is it? How often do they tweet, and what difference does it make? What kind of interactions do they have with their Instagram followers? What is the ratio of likes-to-engagement on their Facebook posts? Are their social media strategies driving sales? You should never copy their material, of course, but what works for them is worth seeing if it will work for you as well.

Use relevant tools

You do not have to conduct competitor analyses by yourself, though. There is an abundance of big data tools available to help you assess who you are competing with. Here are a few examples of helpful resources that use big data for competitive research:

Fanpage Karma: Fanpage Karma offers a free plan that can provide you with a comparative dashboard of your competitors, covering analytics like engagement, growth, frequency, most-used sources, supporters, and more. It works across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google Plus, and Twitter, although Social Media Examiner says its most robust features apply to Facebook.

Mailcharts: Besides social media, you need to monitor your competitors’ email marketing campaigns. This form of marketing is much less transparent, though, so obtaining relevant data is challenging and tedious. Mailcharts aggregates your competitors’ email campaigns so you can see how yours compare and get an idea of what you can do to improve (it even captures subject lines).

Feedly: Feedly is a tool that aggregates content in real-time. Rather than constantly checking your competitors’ blogs and social channels, Feedly piles it all together for you so that you can see what topics they are covering and what kind of articles they are writing.

Keep customer service in mind

You know what else helps build audiences organically? Customer service. When people feel that businesses are quick to reply to their questions and listen to their complaints, they are more likely to remain loyal and share their experience with others. Social media is an excellent place for customer service, too, because some platforms like Twitter and Facebook enable speedy direct messaging. There is even an increasing number of company Twitter handles that are specifically for customer service departments.

Analytics tools can help you monitor your competitors’ customer service behaviors to some degree, but you may need to pay attention to some elements yourself. What is their tone of voice when interacting with followers? Do they make complaintive comments public so that everyone can see the answer? Do they address people by name and accept criticism with compassion and understanding? Pay attention to customer reviews that mention any positive or negative customer service experiences.

Final Thoughts: Use Big Data To Watch Your Competitors On Social Media

Growing your social media audience organically requires strategy, so it’s pragmatic to keep an eye on what other business are doing. What are your preferred methods for monitoring your competitors?