Rethinking the Competitive Analysis

Published 6 months ago • 3 min read


In order to start a social media strategy, you must do a competitive analysis first.

⇡That approach is holding you back from your brand’s true potential.

If you’re new here, HI! I don’t do things like everyone else; that’s why I’ve done so well!

When I create a social media strategy, I do the competitive analysis LAST. The brand’s unique approach is my guide, not what everyone else is doing.

Conducting a competitive analysis first leads to echo-chamber strategies:

I’m using emojis instead of Brand A and Brand B because who really wants to keep reading that?

  • 🐥 mimics 🐣’s influencer campaign, only to realize that what works for one doesn’t necessarily resonate with another’s audience.

Mimicking reminds me of my first (and only) full-time corporate job at Rubio’s where I created their social presence while everyone else was doing the same - this was the launch of social for brands.

Our VP of marketing was adamant each person on the marketing team followed everything 1 competitor (and I use the term competitor very loosely) did. I was new to the marketing side of food and beverage and young as hell, so I played along, but I didn’t really understand why we were doing it.

She would be so frustrated if we didn’t have examples of something a competitor is doing that we couldn’t replicate. Nothing ever made sense to replicate – ever. She later went to work at another fast-casual restaurant and was fired for the same damn thing - never thinking outside the box! She’s the first reason I prefer to stray from "corporate."

  • 🍎 replicates 🍏’s content format, losing its authenticity and unique voice in the process.

Who knew there was 1. a reason to follow guacamole on Instagram, and 2. different avocado audiences?

There sure is a reason to follow one guac brand on the gram – Weight Watchers-friendly recipes.

The guac client had NO CLUE they were the ONLY guac brand (allegedly) WW people enjoyed, and even attributed their weight loss to!

Another brand doing a competitive analysis on this brand would certainly replicate Weight Watchers-friendly recipes and the giveaway structure. It’s not going to work for them, though, because this audience is so loyal they won’t even notice another brand.

Competitor analyses are nothing without an audience analysis.

  • 🌮 launches a promotion similar to 🌯’s successful event. However, without understanding the deeper customer loyalty and unique value prop of 🌯, 🌮 sees minimal impact, proving that superficial similarities don’t guarantee success.

Have you figured it out yet? Community is everything.

Your community should be inform your strategies, and paid and organic content. Every community is different. Every product/brand's community is unique.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that keeping a constant eye on the competition is the key to success. Stop trying to sail a boat by constantly looking at the other ships instead of charting your own course.

Shifting from Echo to Authenticity

  • Start with your brand’s story. Understand its core values and how they resonate with your audience
  • Be aware but not anchored. Competitive analysis should inform, not dictate, your strategy.
  • Expect innovation and originality. By focusing on your unique brand voice, you’ll naturally differentiate from the competition.

We’ve already begun morphing into a more authentic digital space, where users crave originality and connection over mimicry.

  • Brands that echo lose their identity
  • Authenticity drives deeper engagement
  • Unique strategies create memorable digital experiences

Listen, YOU are the strategist, right? So why do you GAF what everyone else is doing? Yes, of course, you should definitely look, but not until you’re 3/4 way through your unique strategy. Sometimes I come up with new ideas (not copying), or realize we could be missing a huge opportunity - it’s a GREAT time/excuse to take a break from creating the strategy.

PS I'm creating something to teach you how I conduct a stress-free competitive analysis. Click here if that would be of interest to you!


QUICK AUDIT

  • What aspect of your strategy feels most authentic to you?
  • When was the last time you took a risk that deviated from the industry norm?
  • How can you better integrate your audience’s unique characteristics into your strategy?

Do the job you were hired for, not the job your competitor’s agency was hired for. When you cultivate a distinctive brand identity that resonates deeply with your audience, it leads to stronger loyalty and a more engaged community.

The same goes for brainstorming with ChatGPT – get all of your ideas out first before IT can influence your thinking.

Show off YOUR skills.

If you do the competitor analysis first or assume you should, I’m not going to argue, but I’d love to hear your take!

I wish I still had green bean casserole,

Chelsea

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Mad Rabbit

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Your weekly practical advice, insights and strategic guide to social media, community management, marketing and freelancing. Created from 15+ years of creating bespoke social media strategies and building thriving communities for 150+ clients and 25+ agency partners. My approach is simple: lead authentically, solve problems, connect, and make a difference.

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