Are you ready to go full steam ahead into Facebook for business? A good way to start is to see what “the other guy” is doing. This is a relatively inexpensive way – except from a time standpoint – to do the market research that the Big Boys have already spent tons of money to complete. Why not take advantage of their investment to build your own Facebook presence?
The first place to start your research is on Facebook and search for your competitors by name. Their accounts should pop up if they have a fan page, but there’s no guarantee as their Facebook names could vary in some significant way from their official company name. If you don’t find them through a Facebook search, go directly to the company website to locate their social media links.
Not sure who your competition is? Use your favorite search tool. Enter the keywords that relate most closely to your industry and see who pops up. Again, go to their websites to see if they’ve got a Facebook page.
Don’t overwhelm yourself! Start with just three competitors to research. You may want to pick them according to location or company size or product offerings; do what makes sense for your company. You can always add more later.
Once you’ve located their Facebook pages, here’s what you’ll be looking for. Start at the top:
- How many fans do they have? How many people are talking about it? The average percentage of engagement is about 16%.
- What kind of content are they using and what’s most effective? Find this out by looking at the number of likes, comments and shares they have for different kinds of posts. Of the three, shares carry the most weight, so be sure to make a note of which posts are shared the most.
- How frequently do they post? Many social media experts say six posts a day are the minimum, but some companies do many more – and some do many less.
- When do they post? Depending on the size of the company and how widespread its market, their posts could cover an entire 24-hour cycle. Do they get more engagement at certain times than others?
- What type of content is being posted? Is there a variety or does the company stick to just a few types? Pay attention to the level of engagement on each, as well as the time it was posted.
- Is the company posting too much? The answer to this is somewhat subjective, as “too much” is in the eye of the beholder. But when you compare all other companies you’ve chosen, do you see a lack of engagement?
- Do different market segments interact with content differently? For example, you may discover that men engage more with questions or that women like photos more.
Next up is to look at the company’s engagement on social media. Does it respond to comments from fans? How often do they respond to comments made? Do they identify themselves as people when they respond to fans or do the responses come from the brand?
If you want a wider picture, there are free tools available to you to see how your competition is doing on all social networking sites. (And it should go without saying that you can look for your own brand as well.) Here are a few of the top ones:
- Social Mention. Just put in the name of your competitors and let this site search the social media universe – including blogs, tweets, images, videos and more.
- Google Alerts. Put in what you want to see and how often you want to see it and Google will send you an email, at whatever frequency you choose, that shows you what’s being said about your competition on the Internet. For the most comprehensive overview, choose to receive email alerts on everything.
- Talk Walker. This is very similar to Google Alerts.
- Topsy. A Twitter-specific tool that allows you to drill down into links, photos, tweets and videos.
It’s important to note that all this information can and should be used as a guide to create and handle your own social networking. Take what seems to be working well from your competitors and see how you can adapt it to make it your own. Look at what isn’t working for them and avoid it!
The key phrase here is “adapt,” because a large part of social media is being authentic, being yourself. It’s important to know what your competition is doing, but it’s more important to develop and be true to your own voice, you own mission and vision.
Do you check out what your competition is doing on Facebook and other social networking sites? If so, how has that changed your approach? Please share below!
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