Are you ready to actively monitor your competitors on social media? First you need to identify who they are. Start by reading our blog post 5 Simple Ways to Gain a Competitive Edge on Social Media. Once that’s done, you are ready to jump in and generate some data!
But where do you start?
Your first instinct might be to perform a quick Google search, but you’ll only be overwhelmed with countless and costly options to sneak a peek on what your enemies are doing. Fear not! There are multiple tools at your disposal to spy on the competition and generate meaningful data that propels your brand to social media success without spending a dime.
Facebook People Tab
Right under the profile photo of a brand’s Facebook page is the “people” tab. This publicly accessible section of every brand page offers key (and free) data on your competitors. The first piece of data available to you is the brand’s “People Talking About This” (PTAT) metric. Facebook defines PTAT as the number of unique people that created a story about your page or on your page. Facebook defines “a story” as a post comment, check-in, page like, post share or mention. A significant week-over-week PTAT increase on you competitor’s page can tell you a few things:
- If you competitor posted an extremely engaging piece of content, check the News Feed to find out what was working. Maybe they ran a comment-to-win sweepstakes that generated a significant amount of comments.
- Their fan base significantly increased. This is an indicator they are running ads.
The tab also visualizes a one-week overview of a brand’s new page likes. If the line is consistently pointing up, that is also a great indicator your rivals are running like ads to non-fans. However, if the arrow points down on a certain day, there is a strong likelihood the brand posted a piece of content that generated increased negative engagement. Maybe the brand posted and promoted a piece of content that felt like spam and users flocked away from their page. Identify what the piece of content was and make sure not to make the same mistake on your own page!
Pages to Watch
“Page to Watch,” accessible from Facebook page insights, is one of my favorite free tools to monitor competitor performance. Through insights, Facebook allows you to select 100 pages to actively monitor for total page likes, posts this week, and engagements this week (likes, comments and shares).
The free tool is a great barometer to see how you stack up against your competitors. I currently work with a brand that has 1.3 million Facebook fans. Our biggest competitor has 2.1 million fans. On the surface, it seems like my brand is falling way behind the competitor. However, when I utilize “Pages to Watch,” I see a completely different story.
What can we learn here? Despite having 800,000 less fans and posting 6 less times than my competitor last week, my brand generated 7,400 more post engagements last week. This tells me…
- My content is performing better than my competitor. They may not be promoting all their content or my advertising targets may be stronger than what they are using.
- My fans find my content more engaging. My increased engagements on less posts means my content is appearing in the News Feed for more users.
- The fans I am gaining are likely more qualified leads than my competitor. This could be a result of a better social media ad strategy on my part.
“Pages to Watch” is an incredible and free tool provided by Facebook, and I highly recommend setting your top competitors on insights to monitor their progress. If you aren’t sure who your competitors are, Facebook will suggest pages that have similar fan bases and interests to your own!
Facebook Interest List
Another great Facebook tool is the interest list. Interest lists allow you to create a specific feed on posted content from only the pages you specifically select. It is a great practice (and 100% free) to create an interest list of your competitors and monitor their daily posts.
You can utilize Facebook’s interest list to create a custom feed of your competitor’s posts. Above are my interest lists. I follow every National Park (highly recommended!) and have an interest list of my agency clients.
By creating an interest list you can quickly determine:
- Your competitor’s post frequency.
- Your competitor’s post results. (By analyzing post results and comparing to your own efforts you can garner a better understanding of how many posts your competitors are promoting.)
- What real-time content opportunities your competitors are taking advantage of, allowing you to quickly create similar content when it is appropriate for your brand.
To create a custom Facebook interest list, go to your interest page and click the “Add Interests” button. From there click “Create List” and search for the brand pages you would like to monitor. Pick a name for the list, and you are all set. Another excellent feature of the interest list if that you do not need to “like” the page to add them to your list, so you can monitor your competitors without letting them know!
What other free opportunities do you take advantage of to monitor your competitors?