5 Ways To Use Social Listening For Competitive Analysis

Competition is fierce in today’s markets. This doesn’t just refer to sales and revenue; businesses also compete within the social space, whether they are small or big brands. 

For instance, have you ever wondered who’s dominating the social space between Burger King, Subway and MacDonald’s? Or L’Oréal and Garnier? How do businesses determine where they are in relation to their competitors? And in turn, how do they determine the areas in which they need to improve?

That’s where Social Listening comes in. 

Social listening is a simple-to-use and highly effective technique for competitor analysis. Many brands are already using it to listen in, collect crucial information, and answer those questions that we asked above. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of social listening and explain how you can use it to gain key insights into your competitors. 

Ready to tune in?

Table of Contents

​Understanding competitors through social listening

Screenshot taken from lush.com

In any market, knowing your competition is half the battle. Take a look at the example above, Lush consistently demonstrate the quality and uniqueness of their products by highlighting how only Lush provides fresh and natural cosmetics. 

So, how well do you know your competitors and how do you tune into these insights?

Social Listening is your spyglass. It lets you listen in on your niche to gain key insights on your competitors and audience. It can help answer questions such as: 

  • Who is making waves in my industry? 
  • What techniques are they using? 
  • What kind of content are they producing and where are they publishing it? 

Today, Social Media Listening tools like Keyhole let you gather vital metrics such as how often your brand or your competitors are mentioned. You can also check how often certain keywords crop up. All of these can help you start to build a picture of where you stand amongst the competition. 

Analyzing competitor strategies

Competitor strategies are gold mines of insights. What are they doing right? Where are they falling short? Social listening gives you answers. By actively listening in, you can uncover nuggets of information to get the upper hand.

These nuggets can be collected as data to inform future campaigns of your own. With the aid of social media analytics tools, collecting this data is now a breeze. ​

There’s never been a better time to leverage these digital ears, hone in on what competitors are up to, and steer your strategies with informed decisions.

4 Benefits of social listening for competitive analysis

1. Informed strategy development 

By understanding the audience and competitor landscape, you can tailor strategies that hit the mark. It’s about making data-driven decisions that propel your brand forward.

Additionally, investing in UX improvement for your chosen social listening tools can enhance user experience, making it even more effective for your competitive analysis.

2. Enhanced brand reputation 

Monitoring and addressing mentions can help improve your brand reputation. Timely responses to both concerns and praise online show a brand that cares and engages.

3. Competitor benchmarking 

Benchmark your brand’s performance and reputation against competitors to find areas of improvement. Knowing where you stand helps in setting realistic yet ambitious goals.

4. Trend identification

Stay ahead by identifying and adapting to industry trends emerging from social chatter. Being on the pulse of trending topics can position your brand as a thought leader.

Some software can assist you with this. For instance, Keyhole’s QuickTrends feature allows you to enter two keywords, hashtags, and brand names and see which is more popular. 

5 ways to use social listening for competitive analysis

1. Tuning into competitive conversations

The digital realm is full of people giving their opinions or experiences. Sifting through this vast ocean of information requires a focused approach. Social Listening allows you to tune into conversations that matter.

To do this, just set up alerts for any mentions of your brand, competitors, or industry keywords. What this does is essentially filter out the noise. You’ll be able to cut through the clutter and home in on discussions that are highly relevant to your competitive analysis.

2. Strategic competitor monitoring

Moreover, integrating call scheduling software can provide additional insights into their customer engagement strategies through analysis of scheduling patterns and response times, especially if they use social media for customer service or sales outreach.

You might find, for instance, that many competitors in your industry employ cloud based call center software to handle their customer service. You can then consider doing the same, particularly if customer service is something you want to streamline or improve. 

3. Sentiment benchmarking

Exploring customer sentiment allows for a comparative analysis of how the audience feels about your brand versus others. How does it work?

Well, sentiment analysis tools seek out mood-related vocabulary and categorize each one it finds as positive, negative, or neutral. Monitoring sentiments around specific topics can provide insights into potential areas of concern and help in improving brand reputation.

Once you learn how to master brand sentiment analysis, you’ll start getting to the core of what your audience wants. 

4. Content strategy dissection

Dissecting your competitors’ content strategy is about understanding what topics resonate with the audience, the type of content that drives engagement, and the posting frequency that keeps the audience coming back for more. 

This includes analyzing their use of influencer marketing, which can provide valuable insights into how they leverage influencers to connect with their target audience. 

When you analyze elements like this, it lets you refine your own content strategy. For example, if you analyze a competitors’ inbound blogging strategy, you can use this as a basis for your own blog. 

5.    Voice share analytics

Analyzing Share of Voice (SOV) helps you get a grasp of how frequently your brand is being mentioned compared to your competitors. It’s a metric that indicates your level of visibility and influence in the digital arena.

5 ways to perform social listening

 1. Take advantage of social listening tools

If you want to track how often people are talking about your brand or important business-related keywords, tools like Keyhole will let you do that across various social platforms. For instance, a bakery could track mentions of keywords like “gluten-free” or “celiac” to monitor discussions around gluten-free offerings among local competitors.

2. Get those alerts set up

Configure alerts for specific keywords so you can stay updated on relevant discussions and mentions as they happen. For example, a tech startup could set up alerts for discussions around a newly released product or feature.

3. Check out the competition

Regular monitoring of your competitors’ social media channels is a great way of tapping into their engagement strategies. Let’s say you run a fitness center. You could monitor the social channels of nearby competitors for promotional offers or new class announcements.

4. Don’t forget industry forums and communities

Participate in relevant forums and online communities to stay abreast of trends and discussions. This can be a great way to remain in the know about what others are doing and may even be a place for you to identify potential sales leads ahead of competitors. 

5.  Analyzing hashtag performance

Monitor hashtag trends to analyze the performance and reach of specific hashtags used by your brand and competitors. If something is trending that you don’t currently have content for, you can tailor a new campaign to target it and capture the audience. 

5 Things to avoid in Social Listening

1. Ignoring negative feedback

Negative feedback, although tough to swallow, often holds valuable insights for improvement. Don’t filter out the negatives; use them to your advantage. 

2. Over-automation

Image Sourced from Linkedin.com

Automation can streamline social listening but relying on it excessively can lead to impersonal interactions or, like the example above, even some quite obvious mistakes. It’s essential to maintain a personal touch, showing your audience that there’s a human behind the screen.

2. Misinterpreting data

The data gleaned from social listening is only as good as your interpretation. Ensure your data is accurate, organized, and reliable. 

3. Neglecting real-time engagement

Social listening isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it activity. Any time you see it necessary, make sure you engage with your audience in real-time. Capture that buzz.

4. Overlooking competitor strategies

Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to competitor strategies. Stay updated on what competitors are doing to ensure you’re not falling behind. Keep ahead of the game. 


Social Listening is more than just a buzzword; it’s a vital compass in the tumultuous waters of the competitive business landscape. By tuning into the digital dialogue, brands not only keep a finger on the pulse of their audience but also stay a step ahead in the competitive analysis game. 

However, like any strategy, it’s not devoid of pitfalls. But as long as you steer clear of common missteps and make the most of effective Social Listening practices, you should be fine. In fact, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of better-informed decision-making, stronger audience connections, not to mention a notable competitive edge. 

So, ready to tune in? Give Keyhole a go today with a free trial

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Social Listening and why is it important for competitive analysis?

Social Listening is like tuning into a giant online chat to catch the buzz about your brand and its rivals. Modern tools like Keyhole let brands get the real scoop on what people are saying, so they can tweak their plans and fix issues before they develop into problems further down the line.

2. How can Social Listening tools like Keyhole benefit my brand?

Keyhole and similar tools keep you informed about who's chatting about your brand. On top of which, they let you track your rivals’ mentions or industry buzzwords across multiple social media platforms. It’s an excellent approach that helps you respond to evolving market conditions and plan future campaigns.

3. What are some practical steps to start with Social Listening?

Make the most of the tools available to you. Top of the list should be setting up alerts for key phrases, because that helps you keep tabs on what the competition's doing. Also, don’t be shy to get involved in industry discussions, and see which hashtags are really hitting home.

4. How does sentiment benchmarking work?

Sentiment benchmarking gives you a clear picture of how folks feel about your brand compared to the competition. It sorts mentions into positive, negative, or neutral categories and you can apply it to any kind of content (e.g. online user reviews, feedback surveys, customer emails). This data can then help you make decisions that will boost your brand's reputation.

5. What should I avoid with Social Listening?

Steer clear of misinterpreting data, neglecting real-time engagement, overlooking competitor strategies, and ignoring negative feedback. These missteps can hinder the effectiveness of Social Listening and may lead to missed opportunities.