Dustin Ford

How to Research Your Competitors on Instagram: A Guide for Marketers

Research competitors Instagram
Iryna Imago/

Long gone are the days in which companies measured each other solely through ad campaigns. Now, much of marketing and advertising has moved online, specifically onto social media and certainly onto Instagram. Diverse in features and unparalleled in reach, this new medium is a goldmine for marketers when it comes to reaching their desired audience and sizing up the competition.

As a marketer seeking to promote a brand, you will certainly come across competing brands on various social media platforms. Before deciding your own marketing strategy, looking into theirs might be useful.

Check Out Your Competition Before Deciding Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Know the Instagram Environment

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the main social media sites in the world, all have specific ways in which a message can be conveyed. For example, while Facebook users are more open to long texts, exhaustive posts and descriptions can push Twitter and Instagram users away. If one of your competitors has a successful method of getting traction on any one of these platforms, there is no shame in copying it to a certain degree.

Know the Method

Irrespective of platform, each firm will use either a slogan, phrase or description accompanying its posts. For you, the timing and the language used in these posts is of the highest interest.

In marketing, keywords are the essence of descriptions and slogans. By using SpyFu, you will know your competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads. Other more structural features such as sentence length, vocabulary, and forms of address should also be considered. If successful, these reveal to you the behavior that companies on social media expect from your shared audience.

If your competing firms are also sharing content other than their own and in doing so are successful, you might consider doing the same for your own brand. This will remove some of the promotional feel that a company’s official social media page invariably has. Buzzsumo can be particularly useful in this respect, analyzing the type of content shared and its success. Similarly, trends can be identified by following trending hashtags across social media.

On Instagram, the content will be pictures. However, pictures of what? The subject, focus, accompanying description, colors and other elements all have to be included in your analysis. The perfect time to post in your niche can also be discovered by following brands like Dior and Chanel who have stellar social media strategies as well as with programs such as Talkwalker, giving you an edge over competitors.

Know the Instagram Audience

After establishing the environment and method used by the other firms in the market, you should determine the exact audience they are addressing. This is evident through the presentation of the product, and the imagery and language used when promoting it.

By knowing the audience, you will know how to best counter and compete against other products and services with your own. Moreover, above everything else, you will intimately know what people respond to. On Instagram, you can even take the time to browse several individuals. To view private Instagram accounts, you will need to follow a few steps, however. Once you’ve done so, knowing your target audience, their likes and dislikes, becomes much easier.

Rich in tools, SEO offers wide marketing analysis capabilities. By using Google Trends and Google Alerts, you will always know exactly who is talking about your products. Moreover, you will be able to compare your audience with that of your competitors or identify the shared segments. Again, brands like Dior or Chanel are very useful in this respect.

Know the Results

There is a two-fold approach to finding out the results of a competitor’s social media marketing strategy: (1) through the number of likes or shares and (2) through the profits they are making, and which they must report to official bodies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Interconnected, these two indicators show you to what degree your competitor’s online activity is financially rewarding.

If a company has a low engagement rate, you should immediately consider their social media strategy a failure – and do something completely different. If successful, you should try to beat your rivals at their own game, taking over posting timeframes, developing your own hashtags and attracting the same audience more aggressively. As such, a quick study of your competitors can save you a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be invested in your own less successful campaign!

Put this Instagram Guide to Work!

By following this guide, you will have learned how to skillfully make use of Instagram and other social media platforms to keep an eye on your competitors. As a marketer, having a powerful grasp on the internet in general and on social media, in particular, is vital. The new mediums allow you to promote, analyze and compare at the same time, leading to ever-higher quality in your own work.

What have you learned from following your competition on Instagram?

Dustin Ford

Dustin Ford is a technology writer with a popular following. Although Dustin writes about almost everything related to technology, his expertise lies in marketing research.

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