Gaining Insights into Competition (through Social Media) like never before
On behalf of : Princee Jain
A couple of previous blogs (Can insights from social analytics be the final piece to the "360° customer view" puzzle?) explain how social media can help profile consumer behavior towards a brand, a product, an event etc. In this blog I would like to throw light on how social media can help companies know their competition far better than before especially from the days when there was no social media.
Most global brands in consumer products space have presence across important social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Unlike Point-of-Sale (PoS) data or e-commerce data which is inaccessible from a competitor's standpoint, social data is readily available from competitor's official Facebook accounts, official twitter handles and hashtags, and official YouTube channels. User engagement data as well as the data posted by the competitor company from all the major social platforms across geographies is measurable from a single place with the help of a set of social analytics tools like Radian6 by Salesforce.com, Sysomos by Marketwired, Lithium by Lithium, Collective Intellect by Oracle etc.
Most of these tools were developed by individual startup firms and later on these small firms got acquired by large technology companies, signaling the importance of social media measurement platforms. These tools vary in the variety and depth of features provided but most of them provide a Conversation Trend over time, a Conversation Cloud with important conversation keywords, Sentiment Analysis (classified as positive, negative or neutral), Demographic Data at an aggregate level, information about most Influential accounts and a general river of all posts. The various social media monitoring tools continue to evolve and become more relevant and efficient by including relatively new social media platforms (tumblr, Pinterest, google+...) and by improving their Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms for better semantic analysis.
The analysis of competitor's social data using these tools can reveal important insights about the competition and its consumers, which is worthy of attention by any global marketing department. Fore-mostly, a marketing department can gain insight into competitor's overall 'Social Marketing Strategy' for each of its products, brands, new releases, campaigns, events etc. One can gain insight into how the competition remains relevant and responds to its consumers in different geographies - the frequency of the official posts, the content of these posts, demographic customization if any, day and time of posting etc. Then, one can gain insight from the competitor's consumer response aspect as well - like the volume of responses that competitor's official postings generate, sentiment of the conversations, reasons and features of most popular products etc.
Monitoring competitor social campaigns can tell a lot about their campaign mechanics - the way these campaigns were activated (whether by promotional offers, giveaways, consumer involvement or celebrity endorsements) and how the interest in these campaigns was kept alive over a period of time and if a similar strategy was followed across campaigns. Particular campaigns and product launches when analyzed over a period of time reveal their peaks and troughs which can help a company benchmark the social trend of the launch of its own similar product line vis-à-vis its competition. With the help of text analytics, it is possible to deep dive further to unearth the most talked about brands, the context in which they were being discussed, the reasons for their popularity, features which derive brand affinity and the demography (age, gender or geography) of the most relevant consumers discussing competitor's brand.
Analyzing competition from social media perspective can help a company know where they stand in terms of relative popularity, relative sentiment about its products and brands, and how it's social strategy is different from its top competitors.
According to a Search Engine Journal report, "The growth of Social Media", 93% of marketers use social media for business. The same report mentions that 72% of the online visitors used social in mid-2013, up from 67% in 2012.Social Media Analysis has opened the possibility of knowing the competitors (especially of consumer product companies with brands) and its consumers like never before and this possibility is only going to be more insightful in the near future as more online users become social and more marketers adopt social media for business.