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Facebook ads: know your competitor, know yourself

Published: January 15, 2013

Author: Daniel Ho

Competitive analysis is an important aspect of marketing strategy development. This is especially true within social environments like Facebook, where a brand’s Facebook presence is vital to maintaining relationships with customers. Successful posts spread virally by an engaged fan base can win new customers – and potentially catch the attention of a competitor’s customers. Therefore, it is important to understand 1) how to track your social presence and your competitor’s social presence, and 2) how to drive better engagement to not only maintain your customers’ attention but also attract new fans exposed to the same posts.
To help you better understand how to evaluate a Facebook page’s social presence, we’ve put together a couple of tips below regarding social media influence and engagement:
Broaden your perspective beyond “Likes.”
The number of “Likes” your page receives is a nice initial benchmark…but don’t get tunnel vision. The thinking behind this is that although the number of “Likes” helps estimate the size of your potential audience, the value of an individual fan varies. Imagine if you were a financial services company and most of your fans “liked” your page when you ran a promotion for free credits on a gaming site – do those fans offer real value if they never engage with you after that short-term display of affection?
Measure engagement with other metrics.
Beyond “Likes,” Facebook also measures “People Talking About This” (PTAT) – the number of unique users who have actively mentioned or created a story about the brand within the past seven days. This is a good indicator of the potential effectiveness of your audience; if they’re talking about the brand, they’re more likely potential customers with an interest in your product. You can divide PTAT by “Likes” to create a new metric that indicates the level of engagement.
Analyze posts to identify what works (and what doesn’t).
The metrics mentioned above are publicly available and give you the opportunity to evaluate your competitor’s social presence. To improve your day-to-day engagement, analyze the type of posts from other brands that have been effective in attaining likes, comments, and shares – and those that don’t.
For example, Disney displayed particular engagement success with throwback posts featuring classic Disney films such as The Lion King:

facebook ad disney

This post was successful because it inspires a sense of community and generates social proof through nostalgia – people can connect over Disney’s classics. Posts like these have enabled Disney to generate an engagement rate of 3.5% (40 Million “Likes,” 1.45 Million PTAT – stronger than the 1-2% average across other leading brands.)
On the flip side, posts without pictures or engaging messages, like this post by Sprite, are not likely to spark meaningful engagement because they do not prompt personal attachment or connection to the brand:

 facebook ad sprite

Although a well-respected brand, Sprite’s engagement level from this type of post rests at 0.5% (11.5 Million “Likes,” 63K Million PTAT).
To get a better sense of all the metrics mentioned above, you can utilize our free tool – the Optimal Index – to learn more about social brand engagement and interactions on Facebook.  Our Index actively tracks a combination of PTAT, “Likes,” and Brand Cost Per Click, which is then utilized to calculate our own proprietary index value that evaluates the movement of brands and advertisers. This data has been helpful in giving advertisers category and competitive level insights to see which brands are actively reaching and engaging their audiences.
Comprehensive metrics are important when it comes to social media advertising. While the world of social media advertising may seem unfamiliar, some basic business truisms still apply: know yourself, know your competitor!

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