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Social media marketing can be a bit of a blur, especially if you go into it with an untrained eye. Your posts are getting engagement, but are they getting enough? What could you do to make them more efficient? Are the conversions you get from social media ads enough to justify the time spent?
Data is what will define success. Being able to measure the performance of your content will ultimately tell you whether or not you are succeeding in the digital realm.
Over the past decade, brands have flocked to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more — and many of those brands are your competition.
What does benchmarking help you achieve?
Benchmarking is an essential practice for staying ahead of the competition on social media. In a world where almost every brand is at some stage in the process of creating a digital identity, you want to follow the example of those who do it best.
You don’t need to spit out key strategies for your campaign, like how often you should post or what time of day. By having enlightened benchmarks in place, this guessing game is entirely removed from the situation.
Related: How not to rate your way down
Benchmarks are very similar to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), but while KPIs can be a little confusing in fulfilling wishes rather than reality, benchmarks use competitor and industry data to help markets to set goals that are both achievable and achievable. For example, if you set a KPI to increase Twitter engagement month-over-month by 20%, that certainly sounds like a lofty goal. But if even the best-known brands in your industry are only shooting 5-7% on the same metric, you’ve set yourself a goal that’s pretty much doomed to fail.
Landmarks are particularly useful if you have stakeholders. Social media success can be nebulous and hard to define as it is, and if you’re not actively engaged in it, social media strategy can feel unreliable. People – especially decision makers – respond well to data, so that’s what you should give them. Show them your goal, show them how close you got to it, then show them competitor stats with the same benchmark.
Use competitor data
Assessing your competition is going to be essential in establishing your benchmarks. But first you need to define who your competition is (if you’re a small tech start-up, your competition isn’t Google.) Compete against companies that are similar in age, size, and profitability to yours.
Measuring a competitor’s success isn’t as simple as measuring your own. You won’t have access to vital information you use to analyze your performance, such as clicks, engagement rate, and ad purchases. Here are the three factors I would use to judge a competitor’s success and help you set your own goals:
- Number of interactions
- Volume and frequency that your competitors publish
- What keywords and hashtags your competitors are using
But don’t spend hours of work doing this research. Use a competitive analysis tool that can extract this information for you.
The three benchmarks for beginners
As your analysis habits evolve, you’ll know what to measure your success against. But for marketers who just dive into benchmarking, it can be overwhelming.
Here are the three landmarks I would recommend for your first time.
Content performance: Find out what is considered the best performing content in your space. I suggest following three or four of your closest competitors and here’s why: one brand receiving a good reception on a specific post type is a coincidence, but four brands is a trend. Be sure to take note of any factors that could play into the success of their content. What kind of stuff do they post? Are they images, videos or mostly text? How often do they post? What are their main posting hours? Producing great content isn’t enough – you need to help it out a bit and follow social media rules.
Rate of growth: Publishing new content, rolling out new campaigns, and engaging with your audience is a great way to build brand, but it’s not a foolproof method. You need the right combination of these things to attract and gain a loyal following. Invest in a growth analytics tool and see how quickly your closest competitors are gaining popularity on social media. Then take their most effective methods and tweak them to suit your brand.
Popularity: Every brand wants mentions. It’s a sign that the audience is talking about you naturally without you having to solicit responses. Social listening is an essential tool that will help you hit the benchmarks for mentions. You can find out who is talking about you and, more importantly for your goals, your competitors. But also consider that not all conversations are positive for the brand being talked about. You might see one week that your competitor’s mentions increased by 200%, but if your competitor accidentally gave a group of customers food poisoning, that’s not the kind of mentions they want. Performing a sentiment analysis will help you detect these kinds of nuances.
The benchmarking process will improve and give you better metrics the more you do. The sooner you start incorporating it into your strategy, the further ahead you will have of your competitors who are lagging behind. And that’s exactly the position you want them to be in.