Do you compare yourself to others? It’s one of the best things you can do. And I don’t mean comparing yourself to a model or an attractive celebrity. I mean comparing your company or brand to competitors using social intelligence. (How do you know if a tree is large or small without comparing it to another tree?) Using social intelligence to understand your competition is critical to building an ‘ownable’ strategy for marketing, research, product development, etc. 

We at Nichefire specialize in leveraging AI to identify competitive opportunities (as well as consumer insights) hidden in social media. We guide you to the highest levels of social intelligence. 

Leveraging artificial intelligence, we track millions of conversations and posts. We know who’s winning. Why they’re winning. And what you can learn. One of our clients, one of the largest banks in the US, saw 46% greater social engagement in one year. That’s the power of social intelligence.

Convert Social Data into Social Intelligence.

Here’s how we convert mountains of social data into social intelligence. It unveils competitive differentiators in these areas:

  • Content & Marketing Messaging
  • Customer Engagement
  • Products and Services

1. Content & Marketing Messaging

Competitive benchmarking is a common tactic to compare performance between brands, especially on social media. It’s a great way to identify what content is performing well; but answering why is the fun (and difficult) part. 

So how can we identify whys using our competitors’ content? 

Let’s use banking as an example. Nichefire examined three-years of social media data across 40 major banks in the US. Those banks all feature social responsibility and company culture in their marketing strategy. In our sample from Q4 of 2020, showed 43% of all messaging related to those two categories. 

These types of content don’t seem polarizing, but they drive polarizing sentiment results. We discovered the language used in this content impacts customer response. If it smells boastful (such as content that uses phrases like “we’re proud to partner with…” or “We donated $xx to ABC nonprofit”) customers saw it as self-serving. But if content shared a story of the disadvantaged organization, community, or individuals who benefited, it performed much better.  

banks sentiment social responsibility
The heatmap above shows the sentiment of each content type category by top financial brands in Q4. The sentiment is shown as varying shades of red (negative) and green (positive). Social Responsibility is highlighted – sentiment can vary in this category; as mentioned above, the messaging in this content plays a key role.

In another case, Nichefire examined a major ice cream brand, Turkey Hill, and its competitors in the Spring of 2020. Their brand positioning on social media was fractured across numerous consumer-value categories. For example, they heavily promoted exclusive perks for their fans when they shopped online. But our AI technology revealed that this contradicted consumer activity on their pages. The two most prominent categories–making up over 60% of their consumer engagement–regarded quality/authentic ingredients and family/community. The promotions for exclusive perks performed 83% below average. These insights were discovered after comparing their presence with competitors, like Tillamook–who was rapidly building market share and dominating social media performance.

2. Customer Engagement

You can spot competitive differentiators–and opportunities–by tracking how your industry leaders interact with its customers and fans using social intelligence. Take Capital One for example. They are a top performer in financial services on Twitter and generate highly positive engagement on Twitter – which is quite remarkable among financial brands on Twitter. One of their keys to success is their audience response strategy. In Q4, they responded to nearly every comment on their posts with personalized responses–no automated (no bot) responses or standardized messaging. This approach allows the brand to be perceived as personable and caring. Their audience is also ‘liking’ and retweeting their replies to the Twitter comments.

capital one twitter
This is a screenshot from Capital One’s Twitter account. This shows responses on a post from a post in November featuring Taylor Swift.

In the world of fashion, Nichefire reviewed retailers and compiled a 2018 report. Among those brands, Macy’s had the most negative engagement—about technical issues, order issues, customer service, or the company. Neiman Marcus engagement was mostly about the featured product or ad. While Macy’s and Neiman Marcus saw similar positive sentiment engagement levels, Neiman Marcus enjoyed lower negativity. Our experts concluded that it’s due to frequent Facebook activity. Macy’s infrequent posts caused their “recent” post to stay ‘high’ on the page longer. That gave customers time to pile-on negative comments. When Macy’s responds, the comment is seen before others. This makes Macy’s appear to have more problems and sparks more negative engagements. Neiman Marcus’s more frequent posts, pushes down a post that generates negative comments, reducing the pile-on effect.

3. Products & Services  

It’s impossible to find a competitive edge for products or services without knowing your competitors. You also need to listen to what the audience is saying. The market is telling you what matters. Just listen. 

Those conversations hold valuable insights like:

  • Where is the audience dissatisfied? (Can you innovate to fill a customer need/desire?)
  • What do they love about a competitor? (Can you match it or differentiate to win?)
  • How do they talk to customers/prospects? (Can you emphasize a different benefit?)

Nichefire’s proprietary social intelligence software analyzed sentiment and categorized Facebook conversations on three prominent home improvement brands: Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, and Home Depot. The data collected was from the 2017 holiday season. Here’s a sample from the many insights we generated.

hardware brands social intelligence
The graph above shows the volume of conversation associated with each consumer response category by brand. This represents a sample of the data collected for this case study.

If you can’t see your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, your strategic decisions are guesses. That’s a bad bet. In the case above, imagine the size of the prize if either Lowes or Home Depot corrected their lousy installation reputation. Even slightly. What if Lowes improved its in-store efforts to get close to Ace Hardware? What if Ace could replicate its in-store success in the online space? These insights drive operations, marketing, training, and hiring. They drive winning. Learn more from our article.

Our final advice on your competitors: Listen, track messages to see what engages the audience and what doesn’t. Test your messages, learn from reactions, adjust, and repeat.

Want to learn more?

Share This