Conducting a Winning Social Media Competitor Analysis: Your Step-by-Step Guide

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social media competitor analysis

Are your competitors outsmarting you on social media? Without careful analysis, you might never know. In 2024, even if you get audience research right and set the appropriate goals for social media, ignoring your competitors is a recipe for falling behind.

However, social media competitor analysis isn’t about imitation, it’s about unlocking the insights that drive your strategic success. It’s about understanding what works within your industry, identifying opportunities to improve, and discovering how to make your brand stand out in a crowded digital landscape.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to conduct a strategic competitor analysis on social media, giving you the insights you need to win the online game.

The Power of Social Media Competitor Analysis

Smart social media competitor analysis goes beyond just looking at their posts. It unlocks a deeper understanding of your market, allowing you to:

  1. Uncover Audience Insights: Discover what topics resonate with your shared audience and how your competitors engage them.
  2. Spot Content Gaps: Identify underserved topics or content formats in your niche that you could capitalize on.
  3. Improve Your Strategy: Learn from their successes and failures to refine your social media approach.
  4. Stay Ahead of Trends: Identify emerging industry trends or best practices before they become mainstream.

What to Analyse

what to look out for during social media competitor analysis

To gain the most impactful insights, focus your social media competitor analysis on these key areas, strategically selecting a mix of competitors for a well-rounded view.

Platform Presence

  • Where are they active?: This reveals where your shared audience likely hangs out and might highlight gaps in your current strategy.
  • Direct vs. Indirect Competitors: Analyze those selling similar products/services and those targeting the same audience with different offerings.


  • Themes & Topics: Go beyond the surface level. What problems do they address consistently? What emotions do they try to evoke?
  • Formats: Do certain formats outperform others in your niche? Experiment with what’s working for them, but find your unique spin.
  • The tone of Voice: Is a friendly, authoritative, or even quirky tone more common? Authenticity is key, but observe how it aligns with audience expectations.


  • High-Performing Posts: Don’t stop at likes! Analyze why posts succeed – a timely topic, relatable humour, solving a pain point?
  • Engagement Over Time: Identify if specific content types lead to sustained engagement across platforms or if their success is platform-specific.

Audience Response

  • Sentiment: Positive comments are good, but critical feedback can be even more valuable in revealing unmet audience needs.
  • Questions & Conversations: What are people asking that your brand could answer in new ways? Where are the opportunities to spark meaningful discussions?

Frequency & Timing

  • Posting Cadence: Observe if consistency matters more than high volume for your industry.
  • Optimal Times: Data-driven timing is helpful, but also consider the context in which your audience engages (commuting, lunch breaks, etc.).

Paid Advertising

  • Presence & Platforms: Are they heavily invested in ads? Their absence might reveal an opportunity for your brand to gain visibility.
  • Ad Themes & CTAs: How do they convert interest into action? Find ways to differentiate yourself.

How to Choose Competitors for Analysis

Your social media competitor analysis is only as good as the competitors you choose. Aim for a strategic mix that provides the most valuable insights.

  1. Start Focused: Begin with 3-5 competitors. Analyzing fewer in-depth is better than a shallow overview of many. You can always expand your analysis later.
  2. Varying Sizes: Uncover different strategies and strengths by including:
    • Direct Competitors: Those offering the same or similar products/services as you.
    • Indirect competitors: Those targeting the same audience, but whose offerings differ. (Example: A running shoe company might analyze athletic apparel brands).
    • Industry Leaders: Observe what best practices look like at scale.
    • Niche Players: These smaller, more agile competitors might reveal emerging trends or innovative approaches.
  3. Beyond Your Industry (Sometimes): Look at completely different industries that successfully serve your target audience. Their innovative content or engagement techniques might inspire fresh ideas.

Remember: Don’t just find competitors – identify what you want to LEARN from each one!

Tools for Social Media Competitor Analysis

Manually tracking competitor data can be time-consuming. The right tools streamline the process, providing deeper insights and simplifying your analysis. Here’s a breakdown of your options:

1. Built-in Platform Analytics

What they offer: Many social platforms have free dashboards showing basic insights on competitor posts visible to you (typically focused on engagement metrics).
Pros: Free, easy to access, great starting point.
Cons: Limited data, may not be available on all platforms.

2. Social Listening Tools

What they offer: Monitor mentions of competitors, industry keywords, and sentiment across social media and the wider web.
Pros: Real-time insights, track brand reputation, uncover audience conversations happening beyond competitor pages.
Cons: Usually subscription-based, can get complex with advanced features.
Examples: BrandMentions, Sprout Social, Brandwatch

3. Dedicated Competitive Analysis Platforms

What they offer: In-depth analysis of competitor strategy, audience demographics, and content performance, and benchmarking against your brand.
Pros: Highly specialized, robust data sets, save time on manual research.
Cons: Costliest option, some platforms focus on certain aspects (like ads).
Examples: Socialbakers, Rival IQ, Kompyte

Tips for Choosing Tools

  • Start with Free Trials: Test-drive before subscribing, ensuring features align with your analysis needs.
  • Budget: Consider the long-term value of detailed analytics vs. the accessibility of free built-in insights.
  • Ease of Use: A complex tool you won’t use is pointless. Look for intuitive interfaces!


Competitor analysis is a powerful tool in your social media arsenal. By understanding what works (and what doesn’t) within your industry, you lay the groundwork for a more impactful social presence.

However, it would help if you remembered that competitor analysis is most powerful when it’s an ongoing practice, not a one-time task. Revisit your findings regularly to uncover shifts in trends and adjust your strategy accordingly. Armed with the insights from your social media competitor analysis, you’re now equipped to make smarter content decisions

Ready to take action? Start by analyzing a few key competitors. Gather insights, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and let their successes inspire your strategy.

Stay Tuned! We’ll continue our journey into dominating social media with our next post, exploring how to craft a data-driven content strategy that resonates with your audience. Learned from this post? Go ahead and share in your circle.

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