They say that eavesdropping is rude.
Sure, you should not listen to your coworker’s private conversation. However, it should not be the case when it comes to social media marketing for your e-commerce business.
Monitoring what your competitors do on social media gives you an idea of who you are up against. It allows you to see how they use various social platforms to their advantage, what campaigns they are running, whether you can do it better, as well as what they are missing.
Luckily, you do not have to check every social media page of each of your competitors. Doing it manually would be counterproductive and time-consuming. Hence, there are social media tools that can help social media monitoring manageable.
Nonetheless, we have listed down the reasons you should track what other e-commerce businesses do on social media:
To know which platform works well in your niche
The first step to creating a successful social media marketing strategy is to choose the right platform.
As Natalie Bratsun of Awario puts it, “Having a look at your main competitors’ activities, you can see which social networks work best for them (and will work best for you, 9 times out of 10), and which ones you may be missing out in your strategy.”
But instead of figuring it out yourself, you can cut the chase by looking at what social channels your competitors are using. Sometimes, you can see it on their websites.
However, do not look at the number of fans or followers that they have. It is best to check whether their posts get a ton of engagement such as likes, shares, and comments. This will not just inform you of what social media channels you should use, but it also tells you that your target customers are active on these platforms.
So, if you are seeing that your competitor’s Instagram account is thriving compared to their Facebook or Twitter accounts, then you might want to focus the majority of your resources on Instagram marketing.
Knowing which social media network is doing well for your competitors, you get to point out which ones are not worth the effort and budget. Mind you, this kind of tactic could come in handy if you are just starting out and you have a limited marketing budget.
Not to mention that there are not enough hours in a day to focus on each and every social network known to man.
To know how your competitors use a particular channel
There is something sexy about being a trend-setter on social media. After all, this can help build brand awareness for your e-commerce business.
Nonetheless, there is a reason your competitors are doing the same thing on their channels over and over. So it is best that you pick up on their right habits. Because if a particular campaign is doing well for them, there is a chance that the same thing can happen for you.
If you want to have an insight into how your competitors are using social media, check how often they post on every channel. Determine what type of content they share with the audience. Do they also use the platform to interact with their audience? If yes, figure out how they do it.
This will not just give you an idea of how you should use your business’ social media profile. It also gives you an idea of how your target customers are using each platform to engage with an online business like yours.
However, copying what your competitors do on social media will mean that you will remain behind them. Thus, it is also ideal to monitor where their campaign flop, and then figure out how you can make it better. Doing so allows you to get ahead of the game.
For example, they promoted an offer on their Facebook page, but it receives little to no buzz. You might want to contemplate whether it is the right kind of campaign for your brand. And if it is, how would you have work it out if it was your campaign?
To find content inspiration
Keeping an eye on what your competitors’ post comes with a lot of benefits and inspiration if you know how to look at it.
What Content Do Your Competitors Posts
Looking at your competitors’ social media feed gives you an idea of whether they use the platform for broadcasting, as well as if they use it for interaction.
If they use social media to post content, what is about? Is it meant to drive sales or does it entertain and inform their followers?
If it is used for interaction, do they encourage their followers to ask them a question? Or do your competitors involve their followers in the creative process of making their products?
What is Their Posting Pattern
Aside from learning what your competitors post, you should also keep an eye on when and where they post it.
How often do they update each of the social channels to keep up with the audience?
Keep in mind that thoughtful content distribution is imperative for a successful social media marketing campaign. Copying and pasting the same piece of content on all of your social profiles will make your e-commerce business sound boring.
What is Their Most Successful Content
Now that you know what kind of content your competitors’ posts, as well as when and where they post it, the next thing you need to figure out is which ones are the most successful. And by “most successful,” we mean content with the most shares, likes, and comments.
That way, you can find the common traits among these content, as well as reverse-engineer how they did it.
Which Ones Mention Your Competitors Often
Last but not least, you should also monitor their sources of coverage.
Which influencer, journalist, or publication mention your competitors? What was it about? Is it organic (i.e. customer feedback), an interview, or PR content?
Doing this will enable you to figure out how to best distribute your content in the future to create an impact on your business.
Monitoring your competitors’ social media activity will not just give you an idea of what content to create and share, this can help you identify if there is a gap in your social media marketing strategy that you need to fill.
To understand how they engage with their audience
Aside from knowing what type of content you can share on social media, monitoring your competitors also allows you to see how they engage with their audience and vice versa. After all, there is a big chance that their audience is also your target customers.
Do your competitors post polls or conduct Q&A sessions to generate engagement? Do they reply to their audience’s comments? Do they feature their customer’s posts about them? How do they handle negative customer feedback?
Aside from learning how your competitors engage with their audience, it also gives you insights about the following:
- Whether there is a sizeable number of audience in a particular platform
- What they think or feel about your competitor and their products
Understanding how both parties use social media to interact with each other can help you create content that resonates with your target customers. Doing so will compel them to notice you.
To find their strengths and weaknesses
Another obvious reason for monitoring your competitors’ social media campaign is to find their strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, you are struggling with a particular campaign and you see that your competitors are doing well with it. Monitoring their social feed allows you to figure out similarities and differences with your approach. And then see how you can emulate it.
Another is you get an idea of what they are offering that you do not, and how they go about it.
On the other hand, knowing their weaknesses can be an opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition.
For example, you notice that they are not using their social media channels as part of their customer service. What you can do is bank on this differentiator so you can make your business stand out.
To learn from your competitors’ mistakes
Aside from learning how you can use social media for your business, knowing your competitors’ mistakes can give you an idea of what you should not do.
As Brand24’s Gosia Letki puts it, “Learning from someone’s else [sic] mistake is the best way you can actually progress.”
The #BendGate crisis is a great example of learning from your competitors’ mistakes. It happened when rumors about bending iPhone 6 spread on the Internet like wildfire. After this, Apple’s competitors like Samsung and LG took advantage of the issue by sharing clever ads on their respective Twitter accounts.
Learning from your competitors’ mistakes allows you to identify and avoid situations that can get your e-commerce fulfillment sideways, as well as issues that can mar your business’s reputation. Not to mention that you can seize the opportunity to promote your products or services just like what Samsung and LG did.
To bring unhappy customers to your side
In case you are unaware, social monitoring can also boost your e-commerce business’s sales.
How? By turning your competitors’ unhappy customers into leads.
As mentioned earlier, social media monitoring allows you to check who mentions your competitors and what they say about them. Thus, enabling you to catch people who left negative reviews on their social media profiles.
However, that does not mean that you will just go “Buy my products instead!” It is best if you let them know that you can solve their problems.
For example, you sell shampoo bars and you noticed that one of your competitor’s customers posted her concern about how their products are delivered with plastic packaging. You can join the conversation and say that your brand delivers shampoo bars package-free.
When done right, social media marketing can bring in a lot of benefits for your e-commerce business. It is just a matter of knowing where your brand currently stands, as well as how you can get ahead of the competition through these platforms.