Influencer Marketing

The Ultimate Guide To Influencer Marketing Competitor Research

Analyze your competitors to see which influencer marketing strategies are working and use them for your own brand
Posted on
December 6, 2022
6 minute read
Priya Nain
Marketing at SARAL

It doesn't matter what kind of marketing you are doing; it's all about competing for the attention of the audience. And if you're simply sick and tired of losing to competitors in brand awareness, sales, and collaborations, then you need to do an influencer marketing analysis.

Your competitors are a treasure chest of information that can inform every aspect of your influencer marketing strategy and help to save time and effort you can otherwise spend on building relationships with creators.

Why should you do competitor analysis for influencer marketing?

Competitor analysis helps you:

  • Avoid the hit and trial method. Find what works, and improve upon that
  • Get content ideas for your campaigns and ads
  • Get a benchmark for engagement when you work with creators in a similar niche and audience size
  • Find influencers who can become your brand ambassadors

In this post, we cover how to pull apart the competitor's strategy and how to intelligently use it to define your own influencer marketing strategy.

How To Audit Your Competitors To Find Their Influencer Marketing Strategy

We are assuming that you've identified your competitors and there are some who do influencer marketing. If your competitors are investing in influencer marketing and getting returns from that, it's likely highly relevant to your business, too. If you didn't find your competitors doing influencer marketing, that is also great since it leaves the influencer space open for you to explore.

Find out who is running the show

First place to start is with the team that is running the influencer marketing program. You should know if you are dealing with experienced professionals with strategic mindsets or newbies with creative ideas.

Find out how big the team is. Knowing the size of the influencer marketing team and comparing it with team size of other marketing departments in the same company will show you if it's their main focus (plan to run ongoing campaigns) or just one of the things they are trying out.

Knowing influencer marketing associates or managers with your competitors is also great if you want to hire someone in the future or just want to exchange ideas with them.

How do they find influencers

The first step your competitors would have done is find creators. To identify the methods they used check two places — their website & facebook ads library.

Visit their website and check if they have a landing page which invites creators to collaborate with them. Observe the messaging on the page, type of creators that they are inviting, if any incentives offered are listed or not. Check how they address the creators — do they call them ambassadors, affiliates, partners, creators?

You don't have to copy the competition but this information will give you ideas and help you find what works.

Here's an example from NordVPN's website. You can see that they are targeting YouTube and Twitch creators specifically.

Athletic Greens also has a landing page for creators to get inbound requests from creators. They are open to working with people from different platforms.

Visit the Facebook Ads Library and search for the company. Scan through their ads to check if they are running any campaign to find ambassadors. If you are curious how you can do that, checkout this guide.

If you don't find anything on websites or in ads, it's likely that they are doing a cold outreach via DMs or emails. Those methods require (slight) effort and time as compared to getting inbound requests for partnering for but they help you build stronger relationships with creators.

If you are worried that you won't get replies or don't know where to get started from, read our guide on 9 clever ways to get noticed by influencers.

Who are the creators partnering with your competitors

Find out the influencers with whom your competitors have collaborated with in the past. Why should you do that? Here are two reasons —

You will be able to create a brief of what type of influencers will suit your product, industry or brand. This will help you or your team find other look-alike creators. For example, if you sell supplements and your competitor partnered with travel enthusiasts who are on the road most of the time and need supplements to keep themselves nourished, then you would know that you should pattern with travel content creators.

Secondly, you will be able to create a 'blacklist' — a list of people you would not bother reaching out to since they are already associated with your competitors.

How to create this list of their influencers who collaborate with your competitor brands?

Search for brand name hashtags or specific campaign hashtags on social media channels. You will find a lot of posts in the search and not every post would be from an influencer. Filter out the ones that have the 'sponsored' tag or have garnered 1000+ likes (likely to have been posted by an influencer).

Go to the competitor's social media account and scan for any re-shared post from a creator or any Story highlights featuring creators. Check whom they follow. It's highly likely that they follow the creators they parterend with or wish to partner with in future. Following creators is an obvious way to observe them before a collaboration.

If you want to take help of tools, Social Status is an option as an Instagram competitor analysis tool. It allows you to check all recent competitor posts in a visual dashboard and take inspiration from their social media strategy.  You can also track your performance with those of your competitors side-by-side. Other notable tools are — Falcon.io , Brand24, and emplifi.

Once you have a list of influencers, create an excel sheet and start collecting more information about them such as — content niche, demographic, audience size, post frequency, other brand collaborations.

This will help you filter out the right candidates for your partnership program or to find common characteristics that you should look for when you look for creators for your brand.

What kind of posts and campaigns work

Use these questions to analyze their posts:

  • What format of the posts get a good engagement — carousels? Images? Videos?
  • Are people asking any questions in the comments? This is an opportunity to collect objections you can handle related to similar products in your posts.
  • What kind of offers are creators giving out for their audience? — Coupon code? Giveaways? Affiliate link? Early bird pricing?
  • What is the core messaging that's working?
  • What features of the product are they highlighting the most?
  • How are different creators in different demographics pitching the product? Is there a difference in messaging?

Note down your observations in a sheet. Simply scrolling through content would not be fruitful.

How do brands use creator's content

Based on the type of agreement, a brand might use creator's content on their social media or website, or as creative for their ad campaigns.

Snow uses reviews from influencers on their website to build social proof.

Source

Another not very popular way to use creator's content is — whitelisting ads. It refers to running paid ads through influencers’ accounts with your product in it. Athletic Greens does it very well —

It would be tough to find out if your competitors are also doing it just by straightforward searching. You can however visit their website, add items to the cart or sign up for emails so that you are served their ads. Then you can hopefully see some ads from influencers promoting their products.

You can also get creatives from influencers and run ads via your own account. Don't have the budget to pay for those creatives? Checkout this guide on how you can get free ad creatives from creators.

Did you Google it?

This should go without saying, but it's still important to mention — Do a Google search and find out if someone has already written about your competitor's influencer marketing strategy. If it's a popular brand and doing a good job of leveraging creators to grow, someone must have done it. For example, you will find tons of studies on how Athletic Greens use influencer marketing, How Notion runs its ambassador program, How NordVPN dominated the market with influencer marketing etc.

Do a Boolean search in Google to find all posts that mention influencer marketing as well as your competitor's brand name. Type in '<brand name> AND influencer marketing'

Find out via search if their marketing team gave any interviews or appeared in any of the podcasts where they shared some strategies? Try to get insights from those.

This might not get you the insights into all of your competitors and only the big ones but that cna be a good start.

Don't Just Copy Competitors: Choose The Right Strategies For Your Brand

One thing that we have observed most brands missing out is — running ambassador programs or affiliate programs instead of pure transactional influencer marketing. Ambassadors are long-term creator partners who operate on some sort of commission model. These are a good way to leverage the audience and trust that creators have built, without paying upfront before results show up.

Here's a neat cheat-sheet we made to help you navigate the deal-making in such programs:

What you won't see in your competitor analysis are the tools that your competitor brands are using to help them scale their influencer marketing or do things easier. One such tool is SARAL — it's

Keep in mind the stage of your company and invest accordingly. If you want to de-risk and yet take advantage of high returns, try the barbell strategy — it seeks to engage with influencers at the extreme ends of the price and audience-size spectrum i.e. nano-influencers - who might bring in fewer but consistent visitors or customers to your site in exchange for a free trial or free product) and macro-influencers - who might help your product go viral and give an instant boost but charge a considerable amount of fee. Learn more about Barbell strategy in detail here.

Final Thoughts

All the information you gather during your influencer marketing competitor analysis should be kept in a sheet or report you can share with other stakeholders in your business.

It's not a one time activity if you want to stay on top of your game. Do this atleast once a year or when you see a lot of new competitors entering the market. Mention the process of analysis so that anyone can do this research in future.

Lastly, create your influencer marketing based on the philosophy that you have to invest in building relationships instead of just engaging in transactional engagements with creators.

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