How to Size Up Your Competition on Social

Some of the Imagine Media team recently attended a Shopify meetup here in Atlanta (along with our rockstar client Nicely Built) and were inspired by all the speakers. We were especially impressed with advice from the e-marketers at Springbot on how to get a read on your competitors’ social media advertising strategies. Here are five tips, based on their advice and our experience, that you can use to size up your advertising competition on social.

1. Install Facebook Pixel Helper.

The first step to a successful Facebook ad campaign is to install a Facebook Pixel on your website. So it makes sense that the first step to sizing up your competitor’s ads is to see if they’re taking advantage of this critical tool too.

This is surprisingly easy to do. Just make sure you’re using Google Chrome as your browser and download Facebook Pixel Helper from the Chrome Web Store (it’s free!). Once it’s installed, there will be a handy icon in the top right corner of your screen that shows when a pixel is installed and whether it is working correctly.

2. Visit their website and experience ads first-hand.

If your competitors do have a Facebook Pixel on their site, there are a few more tests you can run.

First, visit their website and take a few actions on the site that are likely to make you an advertising target. Add items to your cart or start the checkout process if it’s an e-commerce site, visit their blog or create an account. You could even complete a purchase to see if they run retargeting campaigns.

Then, head to the social media platform of your choice. Start with Facebook and Instagram and see what kind of ads you get served based on the actions you took. Follow up by checking other platforms to see different types of ads and compare.

3. Subscribe and follow.

Other ways to view a competitor’s advertising efforts include liking and following them on social media and subscribing to their email newsletter. This not only gives you more opportunities to be the target of paid advertising campaigns but also to see what they’re doing with their general social and email marketing campaigns.  

4. Look for engagement patterns.

It’s always important to check out your competitor's pages and get an idea for how often they post, what type of content they share and how many followers they have. While you’re researching, you can gauge engagement patterns on their posts. If some posts get much higher engagement than average, it’s safe to say they’re boosting posts. Pay attention to the patterns and take note of which types of posts seem to have money behind them.

You can also add competitors to the “Pages to Watch” section in the Insights tab on your own business page. Only you can see that section and it helps to track your performance compared to your competitors week to week on metrics like engagement, follower growth and number of posts.

5. Look beyond direct competitors to leaders in the industry and beyond.

While direct competitors are the most relevant, there are plenty more places to look for advertising inspiration. Follow these same steps for the leaders in your industry and analyze their advertising tactics.

You can also branch out beyond your industry based on your goals. For example, if you have a lot of original content on your website that you want to promote on social and with paid ads, it’s worth taking a look at what major publications do to get their content out to a wide audience on social media.

With these five tricks, you'll know your competitors' strategies even better than they do! All you have to do is tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes and start investigating.

Story by: Kelsey Thompson