The only way to know exactly where you are positioned in the marketplace is to compare yourself with your immediate competitors.
Online, the case is the same. In fact, if what you’re trying to compare is your social media presence, it might even be easier because there is data that’s public and available to you.
I will explain to you how to get started and for that we’ll be using an example in which we’ll compare 3 blogs. In order to get out of the social media circle a little bit, we’ll use blogs in the Career/HR/Working Environment segment which is also a competitive one.
There are a couple of things I want you to consider before we dive into our exercise. First, I’m not suggesting that a business that has a higher reach online or a better mention sentiment is more profitable, they are two separate things. Now, an exercise like this will open your eyes on how much stronger your competitors are or if they are stronger only in certain areas.
It can also reveal that you’re kicking everybody’s ass (hopefully…).
It doesn’t even matter if they are exactly the same or not, just focus on the exercise and the steps we need to take so you can duplicate this at home..
SocialMention is a free tool that allows you to search for any term and it gives you a few digits that you can use in order to start comparing with your competitors. Some of the definitions on the data they deliver are:
- Strength: measures how much the brand is likely to be discussed.
- Sentiment: is the ratio of positive to negative mentions
- Passion: if individuals are mentioning your brand repeatedly.
- Reach: is the unique authors divided by the numbers of mentions.
We can argue all day about how these digits are created or how accurate they are, forget that, we’re trying to get started on getting an idea of our presence against our competitors. Personally, I think something like “Sentiment” cannot be completely automated.
So we’re grabbing the data for our 3 competitors and so we can visualize it, we drop it on a spreadsheet.
It’s important that you know how they get these numbers, Strength is the number of brand mentions during the last 24 hours divided by the possible total mentions. Also, these digits change rather quickly, it might just happen that WorkAwesome just published a new post and it’s getting a lot of action and then you’ll see PunkRockHR getting all the love in a few days.
It means that people mention your brand repeatedly. As you can see, it really doesn’t matter how big your network is because you could have a higher impact with a smaller group of hardcore fans.
SocialMention considers this a measurement of Influence. It’s the unique authors divided by the number of mentions.
I think it’s good to get this data but only as a start. Sentiment should be something that you monitor closely and apply your own criteria. The other thing is that all those neutral mentions might be simple retweets and, last time I checked, they’re pretty positive for most folks. Just because it’s not followed by a “Yeey!” doesn’t mean it’s not positive… so make your own rules!
The good thing about SocialMention is that you can find these mentions and see exactly what is being consider positive or negative.
The easiest way to compare some basic traffic stats against other sites is Compete. A more robust set of metrics is also available on their paid service.
PostRank has this new tool to compare Social Web Engagement. This looks very much like Compete but it’s based on its blog engagement system. You should get familiar with this as it’s slowly becoming a standard among bloggers.
In my opinion, engagement is the most important aspect of blogging, even more than traffic. It has been proven that blogs with significant smaller followers can perform equally or even better than those with insane amounts of traffic.
Engagement is pretty much telling you if you are connecting with the right crowd or not. If people are not commenting on sharing your content, it is possible that there is nothing wrong with your content but you have missed your target.
As I always say, network size is important for some people and for others is not. The reason I include it in this example is because it adds value, for example in this case it’s pretty obvious that WorkAwesome has half the followers on Twitter but much higher visits and content engagement (according to Compete and PostRank). That kind of information is relevant to your objectives.
Let’s go crazy and compare the 3 sites for best performing search terms, that’s kind of important. Again on a simple spreadsheet so you can also track over time. This is a great way to decide if you are willing to compete for the same keywords or if you rather find alternatives.