Gaining competitive intelligence on social media is perhaps the single best way for brands to gauge the industry landscape and cull insights about consumer sentiments, needs and behaviors.
The information you can get from social is instantaneous; you can gain the most up-to-date data and findings. Indeed, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like are treasure troves of valuable competitive insights, so how can businesses use them to their fullest extent?
For starters, Facebook is making competitive intelligence on social a little easier by allowing users to view the ads being run by a page. The move is meant to provide transparency into the social network's ad platform, but it also provides a whole new window for marketers to view ads other businesses are running.
Creative Analysis on Social Media
You can now see the ads your competition is running, however, you cannot view how the ads are performing. Still, there's plenty to learn from ad creative.
The more appealing your ad images and copy, the better ROI you'll see on your ad spend, essentially lowering your cost of customer acquisition. If you identify a competitor who you believe is performing well, you can borrow some elements of their creative to see if changing your images or calls to action, for instance, affect conversion rates.
You can also use your findings to differentiate your ads from competitors or highlight certain features that they aren't mentioning. Or, you could take a cue from Wendy's playbook and start a conversation with the competition by referencing their ads. (We don't recommend getting contentious, but a little good-natured fun goes a long way in signaling authenticity.)
Gauging Consumer Sentiment and Needs
In addition to taking a peek at their ads, you should dig a little deeper into your competition's pages. Read the conversations that are happening and take notes, because within those comments lie the sentiments that will let you set yourself apart in your industry.
Pay specific attention to the reviews and ratings sections on Facebook, Google, Yelp and other social platforms. How do their ratings and the number of reviews compare to yours? What pros or cons do the reviewers call out?
Weaknesses in another company's product or service are your strengths, so read what people are saying and determine how you can improve your own offerings to fulfill wants and needs.
Additionally, competitive intelligence on social media can give you insights into the market viability of new products. Social lets you see trends as they develop, so keep your finger on the pulse and be agile enough to evolve with consumer needs.