Marketing is a complex art. Just when you think you’re on the right track, your competition does something phenomenally better, or the marketing channel and metrics take a dramatic turn. Now, it’s quite a challenge to predict how marketing channels, especially social media platforms evolve, but comparing yourself with your competitors is crucial when setting up any kind of strategy, more so, a social media strategy.
Social media stats without any context end up becoming vanity metrics and don’t help in drawing any concrete conclusions about an update or a campaign. A 100 likes, if you have 300 followers seems alright but put it in the context of 5000 followers, and you have a cause of concern! Absolute numbers may not always be helpful - you need to know the base to compare yourself and your efforts with. Imagine being given the superpower to gauge the relative success of a social media update?
That superpower is Benchmarking! A way of looking at your stats in comparison with meaningful standards.
What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking, in its literal sense, is the process of evaluating something by comparison with a standard. The same applies to Benchmarking in the context of Social Media Marketing too. It drives goals by comparing processes and performance metrics to that of the industry bests. It also helps brands answer the question – ‘Are our efforts good enough?’, in comparison with what competing brands are doing.
A social media benchmark compares and averages the performance of all brands in that industry, resulting in a single comprehensive metric that functions as a yardstick to gauge a brand’s performance.
How does it work?
The overall impact and performance of your brand’s social media efforts can be measured through inbuilt analytics of social media platforms. As a brand, once you have an exhaustive understanding of your social media efforts, it’s time to rope in competitive intelligence.
However, the drawback is that most brands do not have ready access to metrics and stats of competitors’ performance on social media. It takes days of effort, to even approximately determine how successful a competitive brand is on social media.
Benchmarking against competitors involves tools, or a suite of tools, for brands to comprehensively analyse their own performance first, and then compare this with the existing industry standards. Benchmarking could be as deep as comparing specific metrics against a competitor’s or as superficial as comparing overall performance with an industry-wide average.
Why is Benchmarking important?
The social space is a cluttered one. Today, Community Managers are expected to create and publish microcontent over three to four times a day. Campaign goals could be anything, ranging from growing community size, increasing app downloads, increasing brand recall, to solving customer pain points. Goals have become more detailed and so, measuring also needs to be precise.
Benchmarking is important because it allows you to measure your brand’s absolute performance and compare it with your competitors or the overall industry performance. Without benchmarking, it is nearly impossible for brands to understand their market standing.
Top tier management guys are no longer simply interested in vanity metrics. They have more pressing questions - How did your brand do in comparison to competitors? Did your brand make more money than the previous year? Did competitors increase their sales by a larger percentage than yours? Whether it is for simply reporting or assessing, benchmarking is essential to justify your efforts.
Social media benchmarking helps you comprehend how your brand’s content strategy is resonating with your audience. It can point out areas that have scope for improvement.
How does Benchmarking help you as a brand?
We’ve said it multiple times already, but don’t mind repeating it - without benchmarking, it is tough for you to understand where your brand stands. Quarterly or yearly benchmarking of your social media efforts help you:
- Better your content strategy and enable it to better resonate with the audience.
- Unveil your competitors' social media strategy.
- Improve the planning of budgets
- Stay abreast of latest industry trends
Wondering if you need benchmarking even if you’re a smaller brand, or at the nascent stages of marketing your brand? Don’t think twice! If you have never done a social media audit to benchmark your performance, now is the time! An audit across all social platforms will give you an idea of where your brand currently stands, and how you are placed against your competitor. This will either propel you on the path you are already on or may dictate a change in strategy.
Knowing your competitors and staying ahead of them
The very first step to creating benchmarks is finalizing on which metrics matter most to your social media strategy. A one-size-fits-all approach will seldom work here since social media plans differ greatly from one brand to another. So, the metrics for your brand will depend greatly on your specific goals. Some of the key metrics to be considered for benchmarking include mentions, sentiment, campaign performance, demographics, etc. Platform-wise, here are the important metrics that need to be considered:
- Facebook: Fan growth, Engagement Score, Daily Active Users on App (DAU), Monthly Active Users on App (MAU), Average Reply Time, etc.
- Twitter: Follower Growth, Engagement Score, Retweets, Tweet Count, Tweet Frequency, Mentions, Response Rate, Average Reply Time
- Instagram: Follower Growth Rate, Engagement Score, Saves, Frequency of posts
- LinkedIn: Follower Growth, Engagement Score, Likes, Comments, Hiring Updates Frequency
The next task is to analyse your competitors. This can be broken down into two steps:
- Decide on a Platform - Choose the most happening platform that works for your brand to get started. Don’t end up comparing your Instagram metrics to a competitor’s Facebook metrics.
- Decide on a Use Case - Influencer Marketing, new advertising formats. Choose which aspect you’re going to benchmark against your competition.
Now, for the real analytics part, you’ll need a benchmarking tool. Look out for these features in any benchmarking tool (or you could leave it to the expertise of your agency):
- Benchmarks across various metrics
- Allows multiple users to access the benchmarks
- Reporting engine that can export the benchmarks in a readable format
- Customization according to industry / geography / metrics
There’s a lot more you do to make benchmarking successful exercise. Learn from social leaders. Benchmark with some of the biggest and best brands. Set goals, projections and standards based on your previous activity, and consistently aim to meet the high standards. Set baselines for performance and growth based on that of your direct competitors. Identify inspiring, influential accounts in your domain and try to reach their mark. The key is to think differently and try what others don’t or won’t.
Social media benchmarks can give you a contextual overview of your performance, but you need competitive intelligence to take your social media strategy a notch higher. We, at Wisoft, have the skills to help you gauge where you stand and propel you to the next level. Speak to our experts today!