Social media benchmarking for communication ideas and insights

Benchmarking what competitors or successful brands are doing on social media is a great way to:

  • identify what kind of content works in your market
  • come up with ideas for campaigns find new target groups and how to best speak to them
  • put your own performance in context

Social media listening is a good way to dip your toes into benchmarking.  For example Retriever’s social listening tool Retriever Listen has a Market function, where you can get an idea of the current performance of your competitors on social media in your market.


Identifying what kind of social media content works in your market 

Looking at what kind of content performs well for others is a great way of finding best practices in social media. What do the posts that garner the most reactions for your competitors have in common? What hashtags are they using? How are their experts or employees engaging on social media, what kind of content are they creating or sharing? 

Getting an idea for what kind of figures your competitors or similar organizations typically get can help gauge the success of different campaigns or individual posts. What kind of follower figures, reactions or growth are typical for organizations in your field and how does your activity compare? 



Coming up with ideas for social media campaigns  

Monitoring the discussion around themes relevant to your brand or organization on social media can help you come up with ideas for new campaigns. For example, you can identify topics that are generating interest on social media and the related hashtags. Alternately you can find that there are discussions going on that you are not yet actively participating in but that would benefit from your organization’s or brand’s input.  


Not every social media channel makes equal sense for every organization. If you are thinking about whether it is worth directing additional resources to a different social media channel (for example if you are on Twitter and considering adding Instagram), you can use social media monitoring to benchmark how your competitors are currently engaging in the channel. What kind of accounts are sharing or reacting to their content? 



Finding new target groups and how to best speak to them 

Looking at what kind of people follow and engage with your competitors’ accounts on social media in this way can help you expand to new target groups. For example, a bread company saw that while their following on social media skewed elderly, their competitor’s followers seemed to be mostly younger families. They were able to tap into this potential target group because of benchmarking. 


Looking at what kind of content was engaging these types of audiences and at the competitor’s tone of voice, they were able to tweak their own social media presence to also include content such as recipes and quizzes that engaged this different target group.  Another example of finding a new target group would be finding an audience that uses the company’s product in some more unexpected way.  



Benchmarking with a purpose 

In getting started with benchmarking, it is good to remember the golden rule: you get what you measure. The effort you put in setting relevant targets and metrics from the beginning will pay off with more relevant and actionable results. In choosing the metrics for benchmarking, those most easily available are not always the most informative or relevant. 


It is also good to be intentional with choosing your benchmarks. Are you benchmarking for your industry or some other factor like the type of organization? How are their market share/resources compared to yours (is it a fair comparison)? For example, if you are a small actor in a crowded field with a small social media budget, it is not reasonable to assume you will beat an established brand with a large social media department, but you can still identify best practices or become bigger than your market share would suggest. Comparing your brand, to say, Kim Kardashian is also maybe not very relevant. 


Social listening is good start for identifying new ideas and keeping abreast of the competition, whereas social media analysis takes the deeper and more strategical long-term view and allows for more client-specific metrics, also in benchmarking. The international organization for communication measurement AMEC sets the standard for the best practices used by Retriever analysts like me in our benchmarking and other measurement work. With analysis, I dive deeper as well as connecting your social media performance to other aspects of your media presence.  


Benchmark with Retriever Listen 

Enjoyed these tips? Turn them into action with Retriever Listen! 

  • Retriever Listen makes it easy to get started with social media benchmarking. All you need to do is define who you want to compare yourself to and link your own and the benchmark’s public channels to the tool. The dashboard does the rest!  
  • Reading the data in the dashboard is simple. The comparisons are presented automatically without having to use many filtering options. You don’t need to be an analyst to gain new insight! 
  • With Retriever Listen you can develop and optimize your social media communications based on data. No complex software is needed to make decisions.


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