Do You Know If Your Competition Is Kicking Your Butt In Social Media?

Big data is all the rage- what is it? It’s a common trend now that our business data sets  are too big to capture and analyze manually. Why is big data such a big deal? McKinsey calls it “the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity (link).

There is now more and more social media big data about online content (photos, blog posts, graphics, videos and more). Approximately 900 million Facebook users, 150 million LinkedIn users, 100 million Twitter users, along with Google + and Pinterest users are engaging with content billions of times per month. They’re liking, commenting, sharing, tweeting, plussing and repinning. They’re telling us, through that big data, exactly which photos and videos and blog posts have the biggest impact on them. There’s a lot of this social data, and it’s not organized.

How do we turn this big data on social media activity into something that gets results for businesses? We need to capture the right information and prioritize it. How can you organize all that social media activity to make it actionable? It needs to be applied to something that companies can use. We think the biggest application is content marketing in social media.

“Digital activation requires insights on what your customers are into and what they resonate around to create content that’s relevant and interesting to them. With InfiniGraph we’re able to see trends over a target industry and competitive set to answer vital questions on what content works, consumer preference and behavior to build and adjust our ongoing engagement strategies. “
- James Clark, Co-Founder, Room 214

Big Data Makes Your Social Media More Competitive

Marketing Sherpa found that more than 60% of companies planned to increase their spend on content marketing in 2012 (link). Sharing powerful content creates social media interaction around your brand. Few people would argue that social media is about conversations. We believe that social conversations can be created around content. We know that social conversations on Facebook content maintains good EdgeRank, ensuring your Facebook fans see you- naturally, your Facebook fans lose value if they no longer see you- social interaction maintains and increases fan value. We also know that retweets of great content on Twitter increases your brand’s visibility, and thus clicks to your website.

We think the key to actionable social media big data is to not only to measure people’s actions (likes, comments, shares, retweets, clicks etc.) on social media content, but also to detect social media trends- not just what content was hot once upon a time but what content is hot right now. That’s why we give a trend score to the content we discover for your brand.

Content Marketing: The Sourcing Problem

Many companies accept that they need to create and share content to be competitive. The biggest problem they have is creating enough content. You know you need to post daily on social media, and there are only so many questions you can ask your fans and followers, and polls you can run to engage them. The content sourcing problem is such that, according to the 2012 Digital Content Marketing Survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of marketers plan to outsource at least one piece of content in the next 12 months (link).

How expensive is outsourcing your content marketing? Paying an expert for a webcast could cost between $1,000 – $5,000. Commissioning the writing of an ebook could cost between $8,000 – $15,000. The creation of a custom infographic might cost your company $1,500 – 3,000.

We certainly recommend you create some custom content for your brand, but most companies can’t create an infographic or white paper or ebook or video every single day. If you only post when you have your own custom content, you may only post in social media monthly, which most would agree is not often enough. Many companies even have trouble creating a new blog post weekly. Where can you get great content to share daily?

An alternative to creating all the content your company needs in order to create social conversations on a daily basis is content curation (the art of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter). One of InfiniGraph’s offerings, Hypercuration, leverages social media big data to help you curate content that we already know is engaging, viral, and hot right now.

Social networks are a barometer for relevance- just about all online content is flowing through social media channels- we ensure the content you find is relevant to your fans because it comes from other brands is the same niche as you.

The above screenshot shows a hypercuration queue comprised of the hottest posts from 25 brands in the same category.

This solves your content marketing problem. You find and post the best content, this creates social media conversations around your brand, and you do so without creating all that content or paying to create that content.

Winning The Brand War In Your Niche

There’s another layer to the social media activity I’ve described above- the competitive layer. What type of content is resonating best with your customer base? Well, your customers are responding to other brands too. Which content is evoking that response? The fact is that in any niche, your company has fans that are also fans of your competitors. The average fan likes a bunch of Facebook pages. The most active social media users like, share and retweet content from a variety of sources.

But what kind of social activity is there in your industry? There may be more or less than in other industries. How much interaction is there, and which brand is getting the most? Every industry and niche has at least one standout company in social media- the company that’s doing the best job producing and curating content with their social media profiles. Is that your company? You need to know who it is, and what they’re doing. Who is best capturing and controlling the consumer’s voice in your category?

The war of brands for customer mindshare is being fought in the open. Do you know how well your side is doing? Maybe you’re doing great compared to your competitors, or maybe not. What’s working and why? You need to find out what your fans are listening to first. What perks up their ears?

You need a way to put your finger on the pulse of your industry. Doing so requires BIG DATA, and unfortunately, the run of the mill social monitoring platform can’t do this for you. Putting 20+ brands into the typical social monitoring platform would generate so much information that it would overwhelm you. You don’t get back useful data- you don’t get numbers on the social media interaction- you can’t sort those social actions to find the most stimulating content. It’s just not actionable enough.

The above screenshot is just one piece of our Competitive Brand Intelligence report. It compares how much content your competitors are putting out (the red and blue bars) with how many fans engage with each social media post (the green line). One clear conclusion from all our CBI’s is that some brands put out fewer posts of higher quality, and they get more fan response per post because of it. What if you were also curating the best quality posts? That’s the best of both worlds.

Whether you’re concerned with developing and winning new business, a social media coordinator who wants better results, or an executive who wants to know your business is competitive, you need to know where you stand: what’s your level of content creation, who are your competitors – based on who your fans are responding to – here’s where you stand
exec- how are you performing relative to your competition?

Another way to view your niche in these new terms is to ask yourself: Which media site is performing the best in your industry? if you were going to place an ad or article, what site or Facebook page would that be? That is probably the most powerful publishing brand in your category- is that you? It’s time to come to terms with the publishing and publicizing power of your company, or its lack thereof.

Social Media Big Data graphic by Dion Hinchcliffe, shared with attribution.