Instagram is a platform that’s dominated society and everything in it, especially within the last decade. After ranking second as the most popular photo-sharing app among American teens last year, it’s time businesses took advantage of this social media soar.
But, as with everything in a busy industry, you’ll face competitors wherever you turn. This doesn’t have to be a problem, though – in fact, you can use it to help you.
How, you may ask? Carry out a competitor audit. That’s how.
What is a competitor audit?
A competitor audit is most definitely a helpful tool in your strategy toolbox.
It involves paying attention to what those around you are doing. It can allow you to understand who your main competitors are and what they’re offering, giving you an opportunity to make your own business stand out among the rest.
Among other things, conducting a competitor audit can:
- give you new and fresh content ideas
- help you understand what your potential customers really want
- help you not repeating the mistakes of your competition.
Let’s begin on how you can achieve this.
How to start a competitor audit on Instagram
Arguably, the most important step is to ensure you already have an Instagram profile for your business.
If you don’t, it’s time you make one right now.
With a supposed one billion monthly active users worldwide (as of June 2018), Instagram is one of the best ways to gain brand exposure.
When starting a competitor audit on Instagram, I recommend that you identify five competitors.
The app can help you do that very easily, using features such as the navigation bar and location tags. It’s important that you study their profiles carefully.
It’s okay to admit that you don’t know everything.
Be humble, take notes. Learn lessons. Improve your business.
Let’s take an example.
If I’d run a fashion shop for men and wanted to promote my business on Instagram, doing a simple keywords research could already tell me a lot about the potential competition.
Here’s a short template guide to help you gather useful information.
#1. Analyze their account details
Create a sheet and track down everything you notice.
- How many followers do they have?
- What’s their profile picture looking like ?
- How are they promoting their business?
- What’s written in their bio?
Possibilities are endless.
Photo credits: @happysocks
#2. Describe their profile: theme, bio, CTAs used
It’s vital you pay attention to the theme and layout of their social pages.
- What photo format do they use?
- Is a specific colour scheme running throughout?
- Have they used filters or perhaps even photoshop?
If it’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, chances are, they’re attracting new followers.
Photo credits: @harrys
#3. Write down a list of keywords they are using
The captions and messages that accompany posts can be especially influential.
I suggest that you write down a list of keywords that you see them using. Shortlist those that seem to trigger the most engagement and consider starting to use them in your own posts.
Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv2PXm_F0Yn/
In 2019, including Instagram in your marketing strategy is quite obvious.
Staying relevant among today’s generation is an absolute must. According to Pew Research, 47% Instagram users are thirty-four or younger.
With the right idea, the right content, the right timing, and a bit of luck, business and brands can create a huge impact on this platform.
Now, you can’t really iterate on something if you can’t measure it. Here are metrics I think you should keep an eye on.
What Instagram metrics you should track
#1. How many posts your competitors publish per month
Make sure you track how many posts they publish per month.
There’s no size fits all when it comes to frequency of postings. Studies have shown that consistency matter more than frequency, and quality outstand quantity in terms of engagement.
Researching your competitors’ behavior gives you a glimpse of what you can apply to your profile.
#2. Time when they publish
Note the times they’re publishing.
According to Later’s study, here’s a breakdown of the best time to post on Instagram:
- Monday: 6am, 10am, and 10pm EST
- Tuesday: 2am, 4am, and 9am EST
- Wednesday: 7am, 8am and 11pm EST
- Thursday: 9am, 12pm, and 7pm EST
- Friday: 5am, 1pm, and 3pm EST
- Saturday: 11am, 7pm, and 8pm EST
- Sunday: 7am, 8am, and 4pm EST
I’d recommend playing with different postings time for your industry, and find your top time zones and see when your followers are online.
#3. Understand the way they write
Captions and formulations are key.
Sue B. Zimmerman’s suggestion for writing captions includes:
- classic spacing
- using emojis
- bold spacing
- vertical text
The use of emojis, when applied in situations properly, can add to the fun of a post, making your brand relevant and ‘hip’.
Once you understand your competitors’ messaging, you can start a content research by creating a .csv or .xls file where you complete with data from the competitive profiles. Make sure you add the keywords used and hashtags.
You can use these three categories while searching the captions:
- The quickie – One word / and emoji
- the one-two done – One or two sentence proposition
- The micro-blog – Long form
Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxNGxezn-MI/
#4. Discover what type of content leads to greater engagement
You can share various types of content on Instagram.
It’s important not to share the same type of content over and over again, so that your followers don’t get bored with it.
Make a note of the styles you see:
- Lifestyle photos
- Open-ended questions
- Behind the scenes
- Fun facts
- Promotional posts
- Brand story
- Video content
- Feature posts
Adding an element of personality, and showing that there are real people behind the business, can build up a positive relationship between you and your followers.
Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/happysocks/
#5. Track their Instagram Stories
Stories, if not pinned to your highlights, last for twenty four hours only.
They’re a chance to provide your future buyers with some visual advertisement, inciting excitement and persuading sales. You can use a wide variety of stickers, GIFs and coloured text to support this.
For instance, if you take a look at Wholefoods’ profile you’ll see that they create desire by visually presenting the products before inviting them to explore more.
By doing a competitor audit, you’ll be able to pick out the filters and effects that others are using, and those you think work the best.
Test, compare, analyze and iterate.
Once you establish your content calendar for Instagram Stories, you can start looking at your analytics. Evaluate interactions, impressions, reach, and what’s your audience behavior on Stories.
Compare each of your stories with other stories you published and, if possible, with your competition’s content distribution. You can use tools like Socialinsider, Iconosquare or RivalIQ to analyze your stories’ performance.
#6. Identify the influencers they work with
Let’s talk a little bit about influencers.
Influencers are people with high social media followings or if we talk about nano-influencers, they have a more engaged niche. They have usually made a name for themselves via some sort of other media – YouTube or blogging tend to be the most popular gateways to success.
Influencers make a living by working with brands and promoting them on their sites. This is a way for brands to reach out to fresh, new audiences.
Identifying the influencers already working with your competitors is key. Why not reach out to them to discuss how you could work together?
Photo credits: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bxcr7lUBauV/
It’s vital you use this to your advantage, not allowing yourselves to get swallowed up in the swamp of social media.
Find your balance
You should find the perfect balance – do a competitor audit and study what is making your competitors so successful.
By applying some of their techniques, yet also a few unique ones of your own, you’ll balance the scales.
It’s a thin line, however. Repeating too much of what’s seemingly already been done, can push customers away. Keep an essence of originality and you’ll be sure to go far.
Overall, using hashtags, Instagram stories and short, snappy captions can increase sales drastically. Always make sure there’s an unpredictability surrounding your website – the goal is to make followers grab onto your every last word, eager to buy from you.
Competitor audits undeniably take buckets of time and effort, but companies that carry them out have the best interests at heart.
It shows initiative and determination to improve your business, and sometimes, facing the fact that another competitor might be doing something slightly better than you at that current moment is really important, not only for your mindset, but also for the positive progression of your business as it becomes more successful.