Benchmarking: Analyze Industry Competitors and Enhance Marketing Strategy Using Social Media Benchmarking (+6 Step Plan!)

Learn about social media benchmarking and how you stack up against competitors.

How does your social media performance compare to your competition?

And how do you even begin to answer that question?

In this guide, we’ll cover the metrics and benchmarking tactics needed to judge the performance of your social media campaigns.

What type of success have your competitors seen? Where do you stand relative to them? What type of content will you have to produce to keep up – or better yet – raise the bar?

Asking questions like these through social media benchmarking will help you pinpoint exactly how well your social media campaigns are performing, and where they can improve.

Jump Links:

What is Benchmarking?

What is Social Media Benchmarking?

Why Should You Benchmark?

How to Conduct Social Media Benchmarking
1. Establish Your Goals
2. Determine Your Competitors
3. Pick the Right Social Media Networks
4. Choose Which Social Media Metrics to Measure
5. Write Down Actionable Insights
6. Take Action and Repeat

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is comparing your marketing processes and performance to your direct competitors or to industry standards.

Benchmarking helps you ask the question, “what does success look like?”

Every modern marketer is looking for metrics to predict, improve, and evaluate the performance of their campaigns. And for every campaign, benchmarking is the first step to a strong quantitative strategy.

What is Social Media Benchmarking?

Social media benchmarking is an evaluation of your social media performance against your competitors and/or industry standards.

Through social media benchmarking, you can objectively compare metrics like follower counts, post reach, engagement rates, posting times, and whatever other metrics are most relevant to your business success.

Why Should You Benchmark?

Whether you’re comparing key quantitative metrics or establishing the type of content that performs best in your industry, benchmarking helps you set a target to aim for.

Without benchmarking, you’re operating in the dark—subjectively judging the success of your campaigns without any real grounding in reality.

And more than any other marketing channel, social media can be a bottomless pit of wasted time. You or your competitors may be getting lots of shares, follows, and likes, but is it translating into business success?

Here’s why benchmarking is a great idea:

1. Set Realistic Goals

Social media benchmarking helps you compare apples to apples.

Every brand would love to have millions of followers, but maybe that’s just not realistic in your industry. 

A thorough benchmarking analysis of your most relevant competitors gives you a clear picture of the value social media may bring to your business.

2. Educate Your Strategy

Social media doesn’t just have to be an artform.

You can make it a science too.

By evaluating your own social media successes and the successes of your competitors through benchmarking data, you’ll be able to create a highly actionable social media strategy that’s more based on facts than feelings.

3. Evaluate Your Performance

By properly benchmarking the metrics you’re most interested in tracking, you can more effectively and realistically track your own performance. 

That means less guessing, and more confidence in your strategy. Using benchmarks will also help you prove your worth to your boss or clients, and more easily track the ROI of your efforts.

How to Conduct Social Media Benchmarking (in 6 Steps!)

It may sound cliché, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to social media benchmarking, just like there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to social media.

Here are 6 highly actionable steps to help you benchmark your social media success.

Step 1 – Establish Your Goals

To start, you’ll have to determine what you’re trying to get out of being on social media in the first place.

It’s unbelievable how many marketers skip this step! Never “do social media” for the sake of doing social media.

Establish your business goals, and then determine what role social media plays in achieving those goals.

And it’s best if those goals are measurable.

For example, you may be in sports marketing, trying to build an online community around your team’s brand. In that case, you would be more interested in benchmarking engagement metrics or finding the type of content that gets the most reach in your sport.

Snapshot of engagement and social media metrics for the toronto raptors
Snapshot of engagement and social media metrics for the los angeles lakers / LA lakers
You can easily compare quick metrics such as engagement rate, follower count, and more.

In contrast, if you ran an e-commerce business, you’d be more interested in driving visitors to your website to purchase your products. In that case, you’d want to track link clicks or conversion rates.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C will also play a role.

Are you looking to increase your customer base in the form of widespread brand awareness on Facebook and Instagram, or are you using social media as part of a B2B sales strategy on LinkedIn?

Establish your goals, and write them down.

As you work through your benchmarking strategy, every question you ask should relate specifically to these goals.

Step 2 – Determine Your Competitors

Who are your competitors?

This question may be more tricky than it seems at first, as there are many types of competition:

Direct Competitors – Competitors that provide the same services in your same target market.

For example, if you ran a local clothing boutique, your direct competitor could be another local clothing store.

Indirect Competitors – Competitors that provide different services but still compete with you in your market.

Keeping with our local clothing boutique example, this could be a big box store that also sells clothes—like Walmart.

Replacement Competitors – Competitors in a different industry whose products could be a substitute for yours.

For a boutique local clothing store, this could be an online monthly clothing box subscription.

Potential/Future – Future or potential competitors that currently don’t serve your market but likely could in the future.

Perhaps a platform like Amazon will one day allow people to easily purchase local clothing products from your particular market online.

So: in our case of social media benchmarking, take the time to really think out your competition, both online and offline—and how they relate to your business goals.

For example, if you’re a local clothing boutique, you may be indirectly competing with Old Navy for foot traffic, but you may not gain anything from comparing your social media performance to theirs—so it wouldn’t make sense to include them in your analysis.

But if you do have plans to scale your business to bigger proportions, then it does make sense to compare to the larger brand—even if it’s overly ambitious at this point.

Refer back to your business goals and then make a list of your top social media competitors.

Step 3 – Pick the Right Social Media Networks

Next, we want to figure out which social media networks to use in our benchmarking exercise.

And to be clear, we’re not trying to answer the question, “Which social network should my brand use?” just yet. In this step, we’re trying to answer, “Which social media networks should we benchmark?”

Start by using your competitor list. Take note of which platforms each of your competitors is using. 

If they’ve already run campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, all we have to do is measure which accounts and platforms have seen the most success to better educate our own strategy.

And the key here is not to limit your benchmarking to only the platforms your brand is using. The whole point of this exercise is to identify industry standards.

In this step, you should also think about your audience. Are there any networks that your target audience is using that your competitors aren’t yet?

For example, a newer platform like TikTok (as of the time we’re writing this post) may be unexplored territory. Or maybe your competitors haven’t invested in video content on YouTube yet.

Critically think about which platforms you may want to consider using, and include them in your analysis.

Step 4 – Choose Which Social Media Metrics to Measure

Now’s the time to decide which metrics best reflect your business goals we identified all the way back in step 1.

Here, you should also determine if you want to benchmark at the account level or the industry level.

For example, do you want to benchmark the performance of your top competitors, or do you want to do a widespread analysis of an entire industry?

You may need to revisit your competitor list at this point. But that’s okay—this whole exercise is literally a learning process.

Moving along, let’s choose which metrics matter most to you. You may want to consider metrics like:

  • engagement rates
  • reach, impressions, or views
  • follower counts and growth rates
  • content type distribution
  • post timing and frequency
  • top accounts
  • sentiment analysis

For each of these metrics, you may be interested in not only the average or median performance, but also the top performers too.

Related reading: 5 Under Analyzed Social Media Metrics that Matter [+ Tools to Measure Them!]

Step 5 – Write Down Actionable Insights

All too often, marketers gather and look at data because they know it’s what they should be doing, but they don’t take it as far as creating actionable insights from the data.

So now’s the time to create some key takeaways—because we don’t want all of this data gathering to be for nothing.

This step is all about interpreting your benchmark data.

Write your findings down, and make written recommendations as to how they should impact your social media strategy.

Your insights could focus on things like business potential, what types of content stand out from the rest, accounts to follow in your industry, or when to post.

Here are some example insights you could come away with:

“In our industry, videos have 3x the engagement rate of photos. We should incorporate at least one video per week into our social media strategy.”

“Among our competitors, Instagram posts receive more reach than Facebook posts, but Facebook posts receive more link clicks. We should focus our Instagram posts on branding, and focus our Facebook posts more on driving visitors to our e-commerce website.”

“In our industry, posts receive far more engagement at the beginning of the week than at the end of the week. We should adjust our social media content calendar to reflect that.”

“Our competitor, Johnny’s Jeans, has the highest Instagram engagement rate of any of our competitors. They post a mix of user-generated content, in-store videos, and feel-good quotes, so we should aim to incorporate all three into our strategy.”

As you can see, these insights can take many forms. Remember to center them around your business goals!

Tip: To really drive it home, put these insights into a presentation, infographic, or marketing plan. Showing how you’re exceeding your competitors—or how you plan to get there—is a great way to prove your worth.

Step 6 – Take Action and Repeat

Put your insights into action!

Depending on your business goals, you may either want to keep continuous tabs on your key metrics, or perform another one-time audit once you’ve had some time to implement your strategy.

The key is to keep measuring and keep evaluating. Social media changes quickly, so your analysis is never done.

Using Keyhole for Social Media Benchmarking

Keyhole has all the tools you need to make your social media benchmarking efforts simple and painless.

Let’s take a look at a few examples in action.

Example: Benchmarking Engagement Rates

Engagement rate is the average amount of engagement that content in a particular category receives on a particular platform. 

Engagement comes in many forms: likes, favorites, shares, replies, views, clicks—you name it. Here’s a breakdown of what counts as social media engagement on different platforms.

In other words, engagement rate reflects how often people interact with your posts. This is normally seen as a reflection of how well content resonates with an audience.

And you can measure engagement rate as loosely or as fine-grained as you like, dependent on your business goals.

For example, you can measure engagement rates for all posts from a particular account, or engagement rates for a particular type of content in an entire industry, or even engagement rates on a particular day of the week.

Snapshot of engagement and social media metrics for Aritzia
Going back to our local boutique example, you can use the Hashtag and Keyword tracking to compare our engagement numbers with a competitor’s engagement number, being 1,554,082 for the month of September.

Example: Benchmarking Follower Growth

Let’s say your business goal is to create brand awareness.

You’ve already benchmarked your social accounts against your competitors, and you’re already miles ahead in terms of engagement, but you want to be sure you’re also reaching a widespread audience—not just the same small, engaged audience every time.

As a result, you’ve decided follower count will be one of your metrics for success. 

Using Keyhole’s account tracking tools, you can track and benchmark the follower growth of your account vs. your competitors. 

using keyhole to benchmark follower growth
Using our Social Media Account Analytics tool, you can easily see a competitor’s follower growth and follower change over time.

Get Started with Keyhole

The Keyhole Advanced Suite has all the social media listening tools necessary to benchmark nearly any account or any industry, including:

  • Campaign & Event Tracking: Compare your campaigns to your competitors’
  • Brand Monitoring: Track posts, engagement, and reach of any brand
  • Influencer Management: Identify influencers that can help your business goals
  • Market Research: Forecast trends with our AI-driven tools
  • Sentiment Analysis: Compare the emotional responses to you and your competitors

Keyhole is easy to use and free to try. So it’s a great place to start with your benchmarking efforts.

To get started on your benchmarking project, start your free Keyhole trial now!

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