Digital media marketers often focus on defining and appealing to an audience of people most likely to purchase the goods or services offered. Using social media analysis, market researchers follow likes, shares, and comments as well as more in-depth information such as website visits and conversion rates. Companies such as NetBase develop tools that use artificial intelligence to determine, track, and report these actions. Marketing researchers can access real-time feedback from millions of consumers. Another powerful use of social media analysis is competitor analysis; the assessment of a brand’s competitors’ reach, influence, campaign results, and content. Using social media listening software such as Netbase’s social competitive analysis tool, brands can position themselves effectively by countering or besting competitors’ content.
Understanding the influence of social media bias
One metric marketing researchers tend to overlook or dismiss is the prevalence of social media bias. Bias is the result of two functions: the human brain and programming algorithms. Analysts should consider how consumer bias influences consumer reactions when performing social media analysis. The two functions that drive social media bias depend on intrinsic factors:
- Humans tend to organize themselves into echo chambers where they receive, react to, and project content in a manner similar to their peers.
- Social media algorithm software tends to detect popular content and sources then prioritize it for propagation.
Often, people will like and share content sent them by friends and family without researching or considering alternatives. Once this begins to happen, the algorithms will prioritize that content and its source creating a cascade effect. This cascade effect sometimes produces the commonly-referenced process of going viral. However, media marketing analysts should compare this activity with factors such as celebrity or mainstream media influence, campaign gimmicks, and target audience participation. Increased social media engagement may not translate into conversion for the competition. Another important factor to consider is negative bias, which derives itself from the same functions.
Using bias metrics to direct marketing campaigns
Using social competitive analysis tools from providers such as Netbase, marketers can use social media analysis to find and exploit consumer bias. For example, if a competitor is using an influencer to promote a substandard product, the brand may build a campaign focused on the benefits of purchasing its superior product. If a brand’s competitor receives bad press and corresponding negative bias, the brand may promote its humanitarian or other positive achievements as a countermeasure. Brands should also follow the trends the competition uses and employ long-term social media analysis to mirror or counter content strategies.
Define, plan, and track
As with any social media analysis strategy, competition analysis requires direction, documentation, and study. The marketing strategists should define the goals they want to achieve for the brand, whether it is to promote awareness, increase engagement, or improve conversion. Next, marketers should create a set of metrics to measure the outcomes. These goals should align with the desired correlation between social media response to the brand versus response to the competition.
Once the strategists have the goals and measurements defined, the brand’s marketing developers can plan advertising campaigns and social media engagement. The developers should have data to base content on previously gleaned from social competitive analysis tools.
Finally, the analysts should determine a schedule and time frame for reporting results and reaching benchmarks. Goals may be short or long term. Short term goals would include overtaking a competitor by exploiting a temporary weakness or bout of negative bias. Long term goals focus on establishing a social media-fueled lasting gain on the competition.