These Facebook competitor analysis tricks will get you ahead of the game in 2017

Why should you spend time collecting, organising and making sense of your competitors’ social media metrics? The answer is simple. If you understand the most recent metrics Facebook has to offer, you can build your own social strategy and have absolutely no problem beating your competition at their own game.

A quick glance at your competitors’ social pages can give you a great first impression about what others are doing in your industry. But have you ever thought about digging deeper into their numbers and content, in order to analyze the behaviour of your target customers? It is not as complicated as it might sound. Here’s how to get started.

BENCHMARKING FACEBOOK KPIS

The first step in your strategy planning should be to set up realistic Facebook KPIs based on industry standards. Quite a limited variety of metrics are available on Facebook’s platform but you should make the best out of this data.

 FIND THE REAL NUMBER OF FANS

One of the first pieces of information you should see for you Facebook competitors analysis is the page’s followers and likes. And there is a difference between the two metrics.

 When someone likes your page, they automatically become followers, too. But a person can also unfollow your page without removing their like, which means that they will not see your posts but you can still include them when you’re targeting the “people who follow this page” audience, among other things. If a person unfollows a page, they will not be able to see its posts anymore and because of this, you should take into consideration the number of followers versus the likes for your competitors’ pages.

For example, in the case of Huffpost’s facebook page, they have around 675,000 less followers than likes, which means that this many people “unsubscribed” from seeing their posts in their newsfeeds.

 How? Go to the Facebook page in question and in the left menu bar choose “Likes” or “Community”.

Takeaway: Check both the number of likes and followers of your competition’s Facebook pages. Simply looking at page likes might give you an overly positive impression about the size of the audience who sees their posts. 

GET INFORMED ABOUT ENGAGEMENT

You can conduct your own Facebook competitors analysis within the platform itself. Facebook suggests pages by default but these may be irrelevant, so you should research your own competitors, and here is an article about the best method to do so.

Facebook competitors

By adding rivals pages and comparing them with your own, you can subtract the following data sets for each page:

1. Ratio of increase/decrease in page likes

If, for a given page, this metric is very high in comparison with other pages and the historical average, it means there was a jump in the page’s popularity. Go and take a look to see what kind of activity or campaign attracted such a high number of new fans.

2. Engagement this week

Engagement is tricky as the competitors might be using Facebook Ads for their posts to boost their numbers. Rival IQ’s tool gives you a Landscape comparison option and indicates whenever a post is likely to be boosted through paid services.

If it is common practice in your industry to gain followers through ads, you should consider a budget and dig deeper into the services of the Facebook Business platform, otherwise you will be out of the race sooner or later.

3. Posts this week

This number will help with your content strategy. 

4. Average weekly engagement per post

Equation: Engagement this week / Posts this week

By calculating the average of this metric in your industry, you can get a realistic baseline for your engagement expectations per post for the given week, as well as your strategy. 

How? Log in through Business Manager, go to your own page by clicking the arrow next to the logo + name and click on “Insights” in the top bar. In this section, you will receive basic data about your page in the hero image. If you scroll further down to the “Pages to watch” part you will be able to add 5 or more pages and track their basic engagement metrics.

 Takeaway: Facebook wasn’t built to provide you in-depth analytics about your competitors but if you use the above numbers smartly, you can get a good basic idea about the activities of others. For improved and easier-to-understand data analytics, use Rival IQ’s or Sprout Social’s tools.

Facebook is putting substantial effort into improving their analytics, called Facebook Insights, which is slowly but surely catching up with the quality of data structure you can find in Google Analytics. So it’s no surprise that they are frequently modifying the names and structure of their platform, meaning you need to keep up-to-date with the most recent updates of the platform. 

CONTENT STRATEGY

Facebook provides some great tools to see where you are standing versus your competition, but does not provide any context or tools to measure influence, besides the basic Facebook KPIs. Luckily, there are several tools out there that help you understand the social scene better. Below, I have listed some core points and some great tools you should use to discover more information about your competitors’ strategies.

CHECK THE AUDIENCE’S NEEDS

Lufthansa customer service

Lufthansa's customer support on Facebook

By checking out your competitor's’ Facebook pages, you might run into posts by customers and clients, and you will see their ratings. You should spend some time scrolling through these to see what their customers are asking and saying, and how the competitors are reacting to these posts. From this, you can see what your audience may be most interested in, and how best to respond to them. 

How? Choose the “Posts section from the left bar on competitors’ Facebook pages and find the “Visitor posts” section.

Takeaway: You should first find out what kind of information your audience needs and how to respond to opinions and criticism. 

TYPE OF POSTS

First and foremost, you should see what type of content works best for your audience: Links, Photos, Infographics, Videos and so on.

Buzzsumo Shares by Content Type

Average Shares by Content Type on Buzzsumo

How? For your own page, you can check this data within your Facebook Business Manager by entering your own page’s “Insights” section and choosing “Posts” from the left menu bar. After clicking “Post Types” in the upper navbar, you will receive all the data about reach, clicks and engagement for all the types of posts you have ever shared.

For your competitors, you can check both by competitor and topic. To see which type of posts work best in the “landscape” you should use Rival IQ’s social tool, while Buzzsumo will provide you the same information broken down into topics through their Facebook Analyzer tool. 

Takeaway: When setting up your strategy you should look at the type of posts on Rival IQ which work best within the industry, while during content planning you should take into consideration the type of post that works the best for the given topic with the help of Buzzsumo.

HASHTAGS AND TOPICS

Discovering the right topics and the best-working headlines to talk about is essential when creating posts for your audience so you should definitely look into what topics grab their attention the most. You can set up your own RSS feed in a few simple steps, through an RSS reader tool, like Feedly, so that you always get fresh content and post ideas from your industry. You can also search trending content based on hashtags and keywords that you have in mind. 

How? You can discover hashtags and the amount of traffic they have brought to your competition’s Facebook pages through Rival IQ’s system, which can help you to identify the most popular areas of interest for your audience.

On Buzzsumo, you can even check the type of articles that work the best on each platform, for a given keyword, through its Facebook Analyzer tool. You can also use the platform to discover influencers. In fact, you can enter any topic or domain and discover the most shared content or create your own trending feed by adding domains whose content you would like to follow, similar to an RSS feed.

 Takeaway: you can easily get topic inspiration for the best-working headlines from a standard RSS feed, through Rival IQ’s tool which reveals traffic numbers for certain hashtags, or check popularity and influencers through Buzzsumo. 

TIMING AND LENGTH

After quality content, the second most important factors are length and timing. The News Feed of your customer is full of information and it’s a good idea to avoid overwhelming them with lengthy posts in the evening when they are too tired to read. But you can also be sure that your competitors are aware of the same tricks!

content length

Average Shares By Content Length on Buzzsumo

My recommendation is to check the ideal length and most popular times to post and share your content 1-2 hours earlier. By the time your audience comes online, your post will already have some engagement so will be ranked higher in their feed.

How? In terms of Facebook, you can check the most popular times to post and the type or length of posts which work the best for a topic, or the estimated monthly interactions based on data from other posts on Buzzsumo.

Takeaway: good timing is everything so avoid the rush hour and post 1-2 hours earlier than the most popular times, while paying attention to keeping your posts’ length in the ideal range.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many services out there that give you a comprehensive overview of your industry’s Facebook competitor analysis. So as you need to use many different tools to gather all the data, it’s both time consuming and expensive. If you are looking to get a report full of the information you need to build your social strategy, check out Intellyo’s Research products and get hold of the most up-to-date Facebook competitor analysis on your most valuable competitors.