At the most basic level, social media monitoring and analysis will show you what messages, content, and tactics competitors in your industry use and how their audiences respond. You can use these insights to inform your own communications strategy, whether it’s to directly take on your competitors or to simply pivot the strategies you’re using.
Synthesizing these conversations allows you to identify what resonates, and what doesn’t, within your industry. This ultimately helps you gain an understanding of how to shift content strategies to engage with your target audiences.
Here are four steps to better understand your industry through social analysis:
Step 1: Plan in advance
The key to being able to react quickly to social media is taking time to think about and set up your program to get the relevant, valuable data you need.
To make analysis easier, structure your data and listening focus around the user handles, topic hashtags, and industry keywords you want to evaluate. To build those filters, speak with subject matter experts or third-party analysts, like Cision, who can help you decide what’s important for your branding and communication needs, while utilizing best practices to ensure you have a system optimized to bring in the most relevant content.
Step 2: Cast a wide net
One mistake a lot of companies make in social analysis is focusing only on the branded conversation. Traditionally, brands look at themselves and their competitors but miss opportunities at thematic or industry levels to uncover emerging issues, up-and-coming competitors, and unmet needs of consumers.
Remember, people may not mention your brand by name or use the hashtag you so carefully crafted. If you cast a wide net to include misspellings and parodies of your brand’s name, your comms team can catch everything that is relevant to you.
For example, if your brand needed to identify new potential customers, you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to those already interacting with your social posts. With a strategic social analysis program, you could focus on conversations going on around similar topics and among competitors’ followers to better understand what motivates people to get involved in the discussion. Pinpointing those motivators allows your brand to expand its communication and content strategies to include them, thereby increasing the size of your audience and, eventually, your customer base.
Step 3: Benchmark against competitors
Understanding the performance of your campaigns and engagements versus that of your competitors paints a picture of the true effectiveness of your communication.
For example, if you only focus on share of voice, you may think you’re losing the social media battle. But without moving past the quantifiable data to the quality data, you won’t be able to truly know how your brand stacks up against your competitors.
Your analysis should include a breakdown of how often your competitors post on social media, what they like or favorite, what types of posts they comment on, how they respond to their audiences, and the type — and context — of the content they distribute.
Step 4: Analyze pre/post campaign
Even if an event or campaign lasts only a short time, the ripples from it will continue to be felt for a while after it’s over — if it’s successful. Because of this, it’s best to analyze the effectiveness of a campaign for at least two to three times as long as you think the conversation around it will be happening.
You may think there isn’t a lot of buzz about an event after its conclusion, but by using the remaining chatter in the days or weeks that follow, you can pinpoint those who are truly engaged and cater future campaigns or messages to them.
Social media’s importance poised to grow
Eighty-eight percent of 18-29-year-olds indicate that they use some form of social media in 2018. That share falls with older age groups, but there’s no denying social media has grown in general over the past few years.
Millennials and Generation Z are making social their primary means of communication, and for the most part, older generations are accepting social media as a necessary part of daily life, too.
This trend will only become more prevalent as social platforms develop new ways to engage consumers. Social intelligence is important today, but it is going to play an even greater role in business in the future — and in the near future at that.
Today, more than 60 percent of North Americans use social media. In a generation, that figure will be closer to 100 percent.
Is your comms team positioned to keep up with social? To make sure it is, download The Insider’s Social Media Guide.