Over the next two blog posts we are looking at what your competition gets up to on Facebook, how you can stalk them effectively in stealth mode and what lessons you can learn from them so you don’t make mistakes.
Here’s the first instalment…
Social media is a critical aspect of today’s marketing for business and Facebook is the biggest social media juggernaut. Love it or hate it, if you don’t have a business profile on Facebook, you are excluding an enormous potential consumer base and missing out on a tremendous amount of potentially global exposure for your brand.
Facebook is not just valuable to business owners for showcasing their brand and attracting more customers. It is also a platform which, when used properly, can offer an array of insights into your competitors and from which you can discover otherwise hidden business tips.
Whether you wish to use Facebook insights into your competition, or to delve into Facebook for business tips, there are a number of ways to make it work for you and to gain the upper hand over your competitors.
Clever marketing experts have long incorporated looking at the use of the marketing activities of the competition to build up intelligence within the nominal industry. Analysis of just a couple of competitors’ activities can provide important insights into brand positioning, industry trends, consumer preferences and social media engagement – and Facebook insights from competitors’ Facebook pages are an easy place to start.
A brand’s Facebook profile can offer a wealth of information that is easy to access in the public forum. And Facebook is the perfect arena in which to undertake some under-the-radar competitor research…
What can you learn about your competitors on Facebook?
- What is their strength on Facebook?
What is your competitor doing on Facebook that works for them? How many followers do they have? How much engagement do their posts receive? Are their posts being widely shared?
With Facebook’s analytical tool Test Console, you can see raw data. Simply enter the domain name into the Test Console and click on Call Method for data including counts for comments, shares, likes and clicks.
- What they know about their audience
If your competition offers similar products or services to what you offer, then you will likely share a common target audience and their content and its response will be relevant to your own brand. Look at what they are posting; how do they describe their product and what is the overall tone of content they share? What are the strengths and benefits of the brand that they are showcasing?
Who is their target audience? A company is very much self-defined by the type of consumer they wish to engage with. The overall tone of the brand and its message can vary dramatically depending on whom it is targeted to and the type of product or service it offers: it may be aspirational, elitist, and lofty, or low key and down to earth. This all translates to the brand’s chosen image and a successful marketing campaign and branding campaign will see a cohesive and consistent tone and image used.
Many consumers are purely brand and image driven, believing that alignment with a certain brand and its image via ownership of items from that brand impacts their own place in society, and this can be used to advantage in all manner of marketing activities. For example, owning something aspirational (such as a Louis Vuitton handbag) that the masses can’t afford, creates the illusion of elevating oneself above those masses. For many consumers, this matters enormously – and clever branding is the key. It works also for those who wish to be seen as down to earth – and marketing accordingly is every bit as important here as well.
You can learn much about how your competitors see themselves and their target audience via their Facebook profiles.
If your brand aligns with that of your competition, you may choose to duplicate the tone and image to appeal to the same audience – but in a unique and ultimately more effective way. Alternatively, you may decide there is a better or more appropriate angle to take to appeal to and, ideally, convert said audience to your own brand and product.
- How they are spending their marketing budget
Every marketing strategy costs money and takes time and you want to achieve a profitable return on investment. Look at your competition on Facebook. Is your competitor enlisting paid promotions on Facebook? How much is a particular post being promoted? This will identify how important it is to your competitor to get a particular message across. When a competitor allocates resources of any kind to the promotion of a particular agenda, it is obviously an important focus for them; your job is to work out why this is so and how you can apply this knowledge to your own business marketing activities. Additionally, the budget they expend on paid promotion on Facebook can give insight into how their strategies.
Promotions run by others also offer insight into another brand’s initiatives. These can be easily identified by hashtags they use. How often do they run special offers, discounts and promotions? How big are the offers? These can all be indicators of poorly selling products, high-margin products, or bids to convert prospects to purchasers.
Also look to why a promotion is under way. It may be more about establishing a brand as having a certain image than for actual financial reward as top priority. Donations to charity for each sale, for example, will identify the brand with certain altruistic qualities that are appealing to many consumers.
- Who are they choosing to influence their brand?
A brand’s impact can grow exponentially when it is linked with celebrities of any kind – providing that influencer aligns with the brand and its target audience. For example, a highbrow brand and target audience who will respond well to a famous philanthropist will likely not appreciate a Kardashian being aligned with said brand. Just as a target audience that will respond favourably to Justin Bieber’s brand approval and alignment will not have a connection with a political identity.
Brand influencers can be international celebrities, local community leaders, or anyone the target audience looks up to and who is compatible with the brand and its product or service. These influencers, by mentioning the brand, showcasing the brand, or engaging with the brand offer a form of testimonial and endorsement – and this can, in the right arena, translate to a massive increase in exposure for the brand and a dramatic increase in sales.
- What their followers think about their brand
Look carefully at the consumer and follower engagement on your competitor’s Facebook page. There is much to learn from their profile about what consumers like and, more importantly, dislike about their brand and products.
Facebook is a public forum and business profiles have their walls as an open book. All comments, both good and bad, are shared and there for all to see, open and easy to analyse. The response to consumer engagement by the page owner is also plain to see.
What are the followers of your competitors positive about? What are they negative about? Learn from these – are you able to compete in these areas and come out on top, or should you adopt another tactic? Which products generate most criticism – and do you offer the same? Is yours a great alternative? If so – promote it that way.
Look too at how the competitor responds to criticism and how disputes are resolved. There is much to learn from how others in your industry respond to criticism and negativity online.
What kind of social media posts by your competitors garner the most engagement? Are they committed to their social campaigns by posting regularly and making sure the content is unique? If they are showcasing products similar to those you offer, how is the audience response to these?
Facebook insights are not just for virtual spying on your competition. Not only can you follow all of your competitors easily by clicking on the Subscribe to RSS link, you can see their activity automatically without the need to actually like their page.
There is much one can learn from the activities of competing brands and here again is a way it can be very wise and valuable to look to Facebook for business tips. Come back next time to find out what can you learn from your competitors via Facebook.
There’s plenty to be learned when it comes to social media. Have you read our blog on the biggest mistakes business owners make? Check it out here
Meanwhile, did you know we offer a free LinkedIn eCourse? To help you get the most out of the platform for your business, if LinkedIn is your preferred social media channel, we’d love to offer you this course.
Want the low down a few other social media platforms? Check these blogs out: