How to track competitors on Facebook

Business is a bit like sports – the most important thing is to stay in the game, but it’s even more rewarding to stay ahead of the pack. Trust me, I’ve experienced it myself – as an entrepreneur and as a professional judo player. And I’m telling you – it’s important to know where your competitors are and what they do. Of course, it also concerns your social media marketing efforts. Luckily, there are easy ways to learn how others are doing. But before I show you how, let me give you a few reasons why you should do it.

Here are three reasons why you need to monitor your competitors on Facebook:

  1. success is relative – you only know if you make progress if you can compare your current results with your previous achievements. Thus, the most important thing is to establish and track your own KPIs (key performance indicators). But to know if your progress is “great”, “bad” or “mediocre” you have to know where the rest of your industry is and how it is advancing;
  2. while it’s great to learn from your own mistakes, it’s better to learn from somebody else’s – keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing can help you adjust your own social media strategy and tactics. Things like learning what type of content resonates best with their audiences or when it is best to post to build the highest engagement is easy with the right tools in hand and will help you grow faster;
  3. business and customer intelligence at low cost – listening to what your competitors’ customers say, what problems and requests they have is priceless. With such knowledge, you can quickly adjust your product and customer service strategy to win the market. And you already have sales leads to contact and convert.

Now that you know why you should keep a close eye on your competitors on Facebook, let’s see how you can do it. First, you can use Facebook itself to monitor your competitors’ basic stats such as:

  • page fans,
  • the number of posts they published,
  • the total number of comments, shares and reactions to their posts.

To do it, go to your Facebook Page Insights and look for “Pages to Watch” section at the bottom of the “Overview” tab. Click “Add Pages” button to add the first competitor page.

You can also see top performing posts from the pages you started watching. To do this, go to the “Posts” tab and click “Top Posts from Pages You Watch” section. You will see top five posts published during the past seven days, ranked by “engagement”, which is the total number of comments, shares and reactions.

This is the easiest and free way to keep tabs on your competitors’ activities on Facebook. The limitation is that you only get data for the past week and it’s very basic – good for ranking yourself but doesn’t say much about their strategy and tactics. If you’re into free, you can also have a look at our ranking of top Facebook Pages that shows some basic data for the past 30 days. You can track such data as daily fans change as well as 7-day PTAT (People Talking About This) index.

But you can and you should dig deeper. There are many social media analytics tools you can use, NapoleonCat being one of them. The first benefit it gives is effortless benchmarking. You can easily create sets of Facebook Pages that includes your own and competitors. It allows you to directly compare all KPIs and analyse long periods of time – even years instead of days. Below is an example of four airline Facebook Pages grouped in one set. With a glimpse of an eye, you can see which brands have higher indexes and make better progress compared to the previous period.

Analysing industry best practices when it comes to content publishing and adjusting your tactics is also much simpler. You know you should post your most important messages when the chance of achieving highest reach is best. But when is it? It can be easily identified by grouping a few pages together and investigating a longer period of time, let’s say six months (to make sure you have enough posts to draw viable conclusions).

The example below shows such analysis drawn from four airline pages. You can easily spot that posts published on Wednesdays generate the highest engagement. And high engagement means high organic reach. Thus, for important announcements, you should choose Wednesday rather than Friday. Of course, if you’re an airline.

I’ve mentioned customer intelligence as one of the important reasons to track your competitors on Facebook. As you know, Facebook has become one of the main customer service channels (we recently blogged on how to improve customer service in social media). Dissatisfied customers don’t bother calling the airline anymore. They just go on Facebook and post about their experiences on the airline’s page. By analysing such posts from your competitors’ pages you can easily define what problems your competitors face and what their customers care about.

Sticking with the example of airlines, the sample of fans’ posts from the same airlines set shows that LOT Polish Airlines have problems handling their customers’ luggage. To be fair, this is not only their weak spot – we all remember the famous “United breaks guitars” case. But, if you were their competitor and were to advertise, you could take this lesson and build your campaign on “we handle your luggage properly” or “with us your luggage goes where you go” claim. And if you were particularly mean, you could target such campaign on Facebook to the fans of your troubled competitor.

Imagine how much money you would have to pay for market research that involves questioning customers of competitive airlines who have recently used their service and were not fully satisfied. And this is just a very basic example of how such information can be used to improve your business strategy, not just in social media.

By now, I hope you have learned why you should keep a close eye on your competitors and how to do this. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to set up a trial NapoleonCat account and look deeper into your competitors’ activities on Facebook. It’s completely free for 14 days.

And if you have any questions related to competitive analytics in social media, I’ll be happy to hear from you and help. Just leave a comment below this article.

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