Guest Post By: Oscar Waterworth
What do you use your Facebook account for? Following the recent showbiz trends, keeping up with your favorite band’s current world tour schedule, communicating with a friend who is far away, or something else? What do you think, how many people use social media for something substantial and praiseworthy? Well, not that many: it basically all boils down to spying on people, getting the latest news and feeling like a part of a group – and this is especially true with younger people who, after all, comprise the majority of social media users.
However, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms are extremely powerful marketing vehicles for all types of businesses and content marketing campaigns. This is not a new trend, but one that has been gaining momentum over the past several years with the advent of Social Media. Here is how marketing is being conducted via social media, why it is focused mostly on content, in what way you can learn something new from researching your competition and, finally, why are social media platforms more than ideal for this kind of online presence.
Why Should You Have Social Media Accounts?
One of many questions that one might ask regarding this topic is why social media platforms are thought to be the most relevant platform for researching your competition online. Before answering that, you must keep in mind the influence and power the social media presence has for a company nowadays.
Unlike the marketing that can via websites, blogs or traditional advertising channels like the newspapers or TV, social media has an entirely different philosophy and manages to attract a greater number of people.
If handled well, your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts will have a chance to gather thousands and thousands of followers – and this is equally true for existing and successful companies, as well as startups. Most of these people already use your services, while those that do not have the opportunity to go from online supporters into paying customers in no time.
Therefore, social media is perfect for sharing old news as well as the latest achievements, results, products, discounts, sales, etc. – the newer it is, the better it will be seen on social platforms. Let’s be honest – users have become more callous towards websites, but everybody is bound to notice a great opportunity shared via a witty tweet, an informative Facebook post, an interesting Instagram picture or a sweet YouTube video. In short, social media is the best way to advertise both new and old things and remember: a good hashtag goes a long way!
Why Social Media Monitoring?
Now, providing that a number of companies are either in the same business as you or are located in the same area and have a good social media presence, there is no reason why you should not pay close attention to them. “Know thy competition” might be the oldest trick in the book, and it is important not to ignore it.
But, what types of information can you gather from your competitors’ social media presence and in what way can these be used?
First of all, get over the guilt trip – you are doing nothing wrong, except observing what your rivals do and how they solve the same problems you probably have as well. You are not stealing their ideas, copying their approach nor mirroring their way of business. No, you are just focusing on their social media presence and learning from it. That is all!
In the end, you might never have a chance to reach some of these information officially as they can be considered classified. But, information on Facebook and other platforms are open to public, entirely transparent and ready to be collected. So, using a company’s social media presence, you will be able to learn more than you might think, and in a completely legal way.
How to Monitor Social Media?
The most basic thing you need to do – after, of course, identifying your competition’s social platforms and clicking the Follow/Add Friend button – is estimate the audience size. Find out the number of followers and subscribers your opponents have and compare it to the numbers found on your social media. If you notice that your adversaries excel on Facebook or Twitter, for example – one of the best ways to determine this is by Facebook’s “Pages to Watch” section or Twitter Counter – you might want to concentrate on other platforms like Pinterest or Instagram where you can get ahead more easily.
On the other hand, if you notice a low number of followers on a particular social media, this can mean that your line of work is not quite as popular there. Therefore, you should ignore them and explore other options and platforms.
Another step to take is figure out how your competitors organize their visual identity on a particular social network. Namely, you should understand the way they set their profiles up by providing answer to several questions:
- What kinds of images do they use?
- How do they incorporate corporate logos into them?
- Do they use brand colors and fonts?
- Do they insert taglines or catchphrases?
The things you should pay most attention to are profile and cover photos – do not forget that these usually vary from one social platform to another, but most companies use the same images for consistency – as well as descriptions (bios, taglines, and so on) and, finally, links.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com
These are the most interesting part and something you must analyze very carefully. The key is to learn the following about your competition’s links:
- how often they are posted,
- where they are placed,
- how skillfully they mask links to the company’s website,
- whether they include third-party links and
- what sort of action these links call to.
Only after you have understood the kinds of links that are posted and the content they present will you be able to say that you “know thy competition.”
Of course, this is not all there is – among some of the other things the experts suggest when talking about learning about your rivals via social media are:
- creating private Twitter lists,
- keywords monitoring,
- signing up for alerts and
- setting up RSS feeds.
Finally, you might ask yourself if this investigation is absolutely necessary and if all the steps of such a process are to be followed. Well, no, you do not have to get into it, but it will be more than helpful in the long run.
Because it will allow you to get to know your competition and understand how it works from the inside – just remember how much info you can gather about a potential boyfriend/girlfriend via their Facebook page and you will see how valuable monitoring your competitor’s social media is.
Where Do Content and Social Media Meet?
In the end, it is important for you to realize the true connection of social media and content marketing – why are they such a wonderful pair and why is the former a great channel for the latter? This connection is, however, not a simple one nor is it always easy to comprehend, especially for a layperson. That is why it should be explained in several steps.
Firstly, companies create content that is channeled and shared all around the Internet, from their own websites and blogs to relevant news sites and appropriate business-related online publications. This content includes the latest news from the company’s field of work, the results they report, their position in the industry, current trends and interesting tendencies that shape their work, as well as various comparisons and infographics.
Due to the importance of this, it is vital for the content to be presented to the people that want to learn about it – the company’s users/clients/customers, its online supporters and followers, and, finally, business partners, collaborators, colleagues and potential investors. All of them are scattered around the world and cannot all be easily reached at the same time, but, what is the place they all gather at – the company’s social media profiles.
Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are thus perfect for sharing all kinds of content, no matter where it is published. Of course, the best way is to create a direct link between a company’s blog and its social media network using suitable descriptions and illustrative images.
That way, they can allow their followers to share the content further on, thus attracting more and more attention and an even bigger number of online followers. Moreover, this also allows them better positioning on search engines, especially if the keywords from the blog posts match the ones shared on social media.
Image source: https://contentreich.de/
Ultimately, this is how we come to the final connection between content and SEO – it seems that today you cannot even imagine one without the other! Also, while content marketing is in fact older than you might think – it actually dates back to the late 19th/early 20th century – its connection to SEO is easy to track over the past several years. Due to that, you can predict future developments, adapt your business strategy to them in the best way possible and use proper tools.
Learn and Apply
What can you do after you collect all this data about your competition from their social media profiles? Easy – apply it to your own. Avoid their mistakes, imitate their good choices and make your own social media presence better than theirs. You will also learn how to share your content more successfully, which will transfer into a better position on the market – likes and shares quickly turn to dollars and cents!