Social media behaviors aren’t the most predictable. Our customers can’t always be served exactly what they want to see in their news feeds, essentially because their minds look for very different things from a moment to another. Before getting started, one thing that’s relevant to be mentioned is this: while stealing implies that at least one party is going to be disadvantaged, when it comes to social media people’s interests can be merged into a consistent message from similar brands. This is why stealing the audience of your competitors is actually a win-win situation on social media.
Finding Competitors with Authority
Yeah, it’s easy in theory to follow your competitors. But if your market share isn’t clearly divided between competitors, it’s going to be a tough job identifying them properly. Using another’s fan base to improve your social media exposure takes a lot of steps – but it’s all worth it in the end.
During this phase, Google is your best friend. Identify your most successful competitors (if you don’t already know them) – search on Google for specific keyword in your niche.
Let’s take a look at the dog food industry. While there are 5 big competitors in the industry of dog food advising, only two of these are hugely popular on Twitter, as the third has 45k followers, being somewhere in the middle.
There’s a lot at stake when it comes to your competitors’ followers – aside from the content and the posting schedule, there’s the tone these companies use to engage their audience. It’s the experience they’ve got that’s the most difficult for you to surpass. Part of this burden is because of word of mouth, part of it because of the very personal style your competitors have.
I’m aware that statistics don’t always apply. With this in mind, it is, though, crucial to be informed on the tendencies. 71% of the people experiencing a quick and effective brand response on social media are more likely to recommend it to others. On the other hand, 42% of the customers on social media expect an answer within an hour.
What we learn from here is that we don’t only have to be very prompt, but we must be helpful and friendly as well. The stalking part may not be very pretty, but it’s important not to skip it if you want to spot exactly what is that people like.
The Advantages of Guest Posting
Let’s suppose you’ve followed the first step. You now know who your competitors are and where to find them. It’s still not enough. Actually, it is only the beginning. Following whomever seems to be performing extraordinarily is crucial, but don’t stop here.
When it comes to brand interaction, what moulds people’s experiences on social media is how satisfied their needs are when being in contact with your brand. Most of the social media shares come from on-page blog posts. Try slinking in there – see what your competitors write about. If the difference in visibility is consistent enough so they don’t think of you as a threat, accepting a guest post on a pertinent topic shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t give your competitors the impression that you’re trying to steal their audience. Rather, be genuinely interested in satisfying an organic need. Approach a topic that they’d all be interested in reading. Document it thoroughly.
For instance, in the example with the dog food, Petco has 169k Twitter followers. If you’re Petsmart (165k Twitter followers) they’re less likely to accept a guest post from you, as you’re their main competitor. But if you manage to find someone popular in your industry who needs your expertise as a complementary point of view, guest posting is a great resource for reaching out to new people.
Instead, after reading your guest post, my thoughts should be somewhere around the idea that ‘here’s this cool guy whose posts I’ve been missing. Who is he? I’d like to see more of that’.
Who doesn’t like a nice travel blog? They’re most inspiring. From packing your luggage in the most compact ways possible to exploring the wonders of lost civilization and best casinos to go to while you’re in Las Vegas, there’s not much you won’t find on a travel blog.
Suppose I’m Atlas Obscura, a travel blog. I do have a fine social engagement rate; but considering the area I write in – which is highly permissive – I could be doing much better. For instance, MatadorNetwork have more readers than I do. Their project is a little bigger than mine, and maybe monitoring them closely will give me some insight on what I could improve. As the difference between our performance isn’t that significant, I am one of their main competitors – so it’s my duty to be informed.
I believe that most of the people who click on something interesting on their social media feeds don’t pay attention to the source, but to the title and the picture. At least most of the times.
Of course, this brings a lot of extra responsibilities when trying to promote your content – in order to be remembered you have to be remarkable. Constantly and consistently remarkable. It’s not an easy job, but it does pay off.
When talking about promoting your content, a tool that you may find very useful is Sniply. What it does is enabling you to display a link and call to action on any other webpage that you share. This might be a very useful promoting tool, not to mention it’s main big advantage: drives traffic back to your website from the links you share on social media.
From the exhausted mothers who always look astonishing, to the teachers who never seem to get mad at their students repeating mistakes, we all have our little secrets that keep us going. In this industry, guest posting is one of those, on the condition to do it flawlessly.
I looked for the editorial team of Matador Network on their site, to see who is a constant writer on the blog. There I found Genevive Northup.
Then, I searched for her on Brand Mentions, and the mentions returned for the past month led me to a site which accepts guest posts.
Finding Wall Street International, I decided to go through her guest post and see what it was about. I found that the author shared a personal traveling experience and the lead photo of the post is a personal one, of her husband’s. The writing style is somewhat similar – with a powerful personal touch. So now I know what kind of articles the editorial team of this magazine appreciate.
I can contact the editorial team whenever I’ve got a text written on one of my recent travel experiences. Theoretically, they would have no reason to say no to my proposition.
Also, this way I can make sure that whoever saw my competitor’s article about trekking in the Arctic Circle has the chance to run into my own writings on social media.
Twitter Performance Speaks of Engagement and Popularity
It’s even harder, since Twitter took out their on-page counter, to keep up with your competitors and their social media performance. Luckily, there are some tools that can help you monitor their online presence without being pretentious or too tech-oriented. They’re friendly websites that don’t require a lot of social media monitoring expertise, yet they provide essential data that’s already put in perspective, ready for you to use.
The difference between Atlas Obscura and Matador Network isn’t that big compared to their overall performance. However, me being Atlas Obscura, I decided that I may have a thing or two to learn from closely monitoring the performance of this direct competitor.
And here’s where a strange phenomenon happens. I’ve got a rate of 83% retweets to my posts, while Matador Network have 76% and 84% favorites, while they’ve only got 81%. And what’s perhaps even more surprising is that I’ve got a 14% retweet rate, my competitor only scores 1%. As you’ll see in the screenshot below, Twitonomy offered me all the information I needed at a first glance – enough to form an opinion on where my competitor is performing a little better.
This does give me an idea on what’s happening – my followers, fewer as they are, seem to be more engaged with the content I provide, despite the fact that I post an average of fewer tweets per day and less hashtags are involved.
Taking a second look at this first chart, I realize that whatever strategy I may be borrowing inspired by what Matador Network does, it’s not going to be meant to increase loyalty. On the contrary, it’s going to be meant to reach for more new people, while trying to maintain the work I’ve been doing so far – it’s the strategy that brought me here, after all.
Another set of data that I may find useful concerns the user interaction – what are the most retweeted posts? What about the ones most replied to? Which hashtags work better?
Answering these questions can show me where I stand compared to this site’s performance.
The most retweeted tweets give me a sense of what’s prone to be popular – what people like, what they identify themselves with, those specific things that manage to move them in a way. And when it comes to traveling, it’s not easy to bring something new and remarkable (and I don’t even have to be Atlas Obscura to know this).
Knowing what people most commented on allows you to give them tricks and advice as a reply to their comments on your competitor’s page. If it’s done properly, this strategy raises the attention and gains lots of followers – especially if you decide to reply to a popular comment. However, it’s crucial not to mention your brand, so that you can sound like a proper expert, not like a cheap advertiser looking for attention.
Often, when you’re looking for something original and on the button, what you need in fact is no more than a glimpse of what is currently working. But, however engaged we are in our mission, it’s relevant to remember that very much like planning, pragmatism is something a business needs from day 0 in order to succeed. This is why I found particularly relevant the hours of the day and the days of the week when the Tweets are posted along with the hours when the engagement rates are better.
It’s really useful to have a tool like this to tell you when your competitors are active on social media – because when they’re not, it’s your time to shine. And then steal their thunder and conquer the world. Or at least shine. If you make it a strategy – which first of all implies consistency and constant activity – this can be the very source of your social media success.
Spying the Twitter performance of your competitors is one of your best leads, especially if you know how to interpret the results you’re given.
Monitor Facebook Pages
Keeping up with your competitors on their social media strategy is a full time job (also literally). Fanpage Karma is the tool that I’m using to make this short analysis, allowing me to have a lot of powerful insight on what I should be doing instead of posting randomly and hoping for the best.
For instance, knowing that I (Atlas Obscura) only have 200k Facebook page likes and Matador Network has almost 700k, it’s time to begin a close monitoring and see where my strategies can be similar to theirs and where I should try being complementary instead. It seems that unlike our performance on Twitter – where the difference is smaller – there’s room of much better on Facebook.
Let’s start with the last thing we talked about when referring to Twitter – when to post. What I find from here is that the Matador Network Facebook page isn’t quite active during Saturdays – which suits me the most, since I decided that it’s an appropriate day to be active on Twitter, too. But unlike Twitter, I know from my own Facebook subscribers aren’t active on Saturdays – so I can actually adapt Matador Network’s strategy to my needs.
However, knowing that people in general tend to be less active on social media during the weekends, I won’t exaggerate – just post cool travel insights every now and then to make people’s weekends more fun.
Of course, me being more active is in addition to my current activity. Given that on Facebook the difference between me and my competitor is significant, I could try their method – copy their posting schedule (it seems to be working!).
Matador Network doesn’t only have more Facebook fans, is also has a great engagement rate. So let’s debunk this.
According to their content, most of the posts include links and none of them are actually simple statuses, as shown in the engagement matrix. Also, most of the links have pictures – which means that visuals can be exploited on social media as well. This gives me enough perspective to start improving my page’s Facebook performance.
While in terms of absolute numbers i have approximately one third of their number of fans, the market share situation is dramatically better for my competitors, as shown in the graph below. Fortunately, on the previous point I got insight on what they do better and how to improve my performance.
This position, however, is relative as it doesn’t show that my weekly growth is approximately one third compared to Matador Network’s. This means that whatever I’ve been doing in terms of posting during the following week isn’t bad at all and what I should focus on is a way of growing this exponentially.
Generally, Twitter and Facebook behaviors are different one from another, even when we’re talking about the same users – their reactions to whichever types of content differs depending on what they’re accustomed to. It would be significantly harder to engage an active follower on Facebook without any pictures featuring your links, because it’s a different way of behaving than the one I’m used to being exposed to.
Just like the devil, the biggest trick social media can pull is to leave you under the impression that it’s not to be taken into account. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, take it seriously. It’s not even reducible to a means of content amplification – it’s way more than this. Being active and relevant on social media is almost as important as being relevant in your niche; these two often are converged. From a relevance statement to online awareness, there’s no direction where we can afford to underestimate its powers.
Take social media seriously and you’ll be taken seriously; today, you’re only as relevant as your content – and it’s impossible to maintain applicability when your content doesn’t get to your audience. Not settling for an average social media performance is, unlike just a few years back, a prerequisite for anyone out there who wants to be taken seriously.