Benchmarking, or measuring your success against your competitors, is the best (and only!) way to really understand how you’re doing on social.
Social media success is about so much more than getting the most comments or likes: it’s about increasing engagement while also growing or maintaining the percentage of your audience that engages as you expand your audience. Why can’t you gauge success on likes alone? Because audience size is hugely important: 1,000 likes makes a huge difference to a brand with 2,000 followers, but is a drop in the bucket to a brand with 100,000 followers.
Let’s jump into how to use Rival IQ to measure your social media success against your competitors’ for the truest sense of how you’re really doing.
Add competitors to get started with benchmarking
As we’ve covered in previous articles, the first step to benchmarking is creating a landscape with competitors you want to keep an eye on in Rival IQ.
You can also add company filters to focus your list. Maybe you’re an automobile brand who wants to cast a wide net by monitoring all the major car brands, but every once in a while you need to compare yourself against high-end luxury brands. Add competitors like Porsche and Aston Martin to a company filter for seamless switching between all your competitors and a select few.
Now that you have a solid sense of your competitor landscape, it’s time to pick a channel to study: get a 30,000-foot view with Cross-Channel, or go specific by narrowing down to a specific channel like Facebook or Instagram.
Competitive benchmarking at a glance
Consult the overview dashboard for a high-level understanding of how you’re doing on social. Use dynamic automated insights and easy-to-understand competitor averages for an understanding of where you’re ahead and where you still have work to do.
We’ve broken this section down by Audience, Activity, and Engagement for easy reading. In the example above, shoe brand Converse is way above average for audience size, which you can tell by reading the automated insight on the left or by comparing the bar graph on the right. Be sure to hover your mouse over these bar charts, especially when studying your Cross-Channel efforts: we break things down by channel, percent change, and the percentage of the total bar chart.
Consult each of these three sections for a sense of how you rank against your competitors. The Overview dashboard arms you with a few high-level insights and is a great place to study up before heading into a marketing team or pitch meeting.
Dive deeper into your benchmarks with the Leaderboard
With an understanding of what you’re doing on social, it’s now time to jump into the why with the Leaderboard, which presents all your most important social metrics ranked in comparison to your competitors so you can see if you’re leading the pack or trailing behind.
Just like in the Overview dashboard, the Leaderboard focuses on Audience, Activity, and Engagement. In the example above, focus company Howard University ranks second for Facebook Page Fans in its landscape but has experienced the biggest net change this year, suggesting it may overtake rival BYU before too long.
This section also features a competitive average dotted reference line in all of the bar charts so you can see not only how you rank, but also how far above or behind the average you are. For example, the Facebook Page Fan competitive average for this landscape is 137K, but focus company Howard University boasts 170K Page Fans, putting them well above the average and confirming some serious success on Facebook this year.
The leaderboard also features line charts that help you visualize your performance over time, so you can adjust your performance so it’s more in-line with your competitors. For example, the Posts/Month graph can help you figure out if you’re posting more or less frequently than your competitors so you know whether to ramp up or pull back. In this example, we can see that Howard University is posting way more often than any of its competitors to the tune of almost 5x. This university should benchmark its Facebook engagement against its competitors to see if that high posting frequency is paying off or causing them to lag behind in engagement.
Do I need to rank first in everything to consider myself successful?
Not necessarily! For example, if your brand ranks first in post frequency but last in post engagement, that’s a good clue that your competitors are doing more with less and that you should consider pulling back on your posting frequency to up your impressions on the content you do post.
The insights and rankings in Rival IQ are designed to give you a true sense of how you’re doing on social by providing competitive context. If you’re a makeup brand that’s getting constantly outsold by your main competitor, you would do well to take a look at that competing brand’s social. Use the steps we’ve laid out to look at what they’re doing differently than you, where they’re ranking ahead of you, and what strategies you can experiment with or be inspired by to try to take back some of that market share.
Next up: benchmarking your performance in Social Posts
We hope you now have a foundation for how you’re doing against your competitors on social. If you’re really ready to dive into benchmarking your performance on a post-by-post basis, check out our article on analyzing competitors using Social Posts.