Competition as a factor in social media strategy

The following article addresses the topic of competition and competitiveness for social media strategies

Reading time ca. 9 minutes



Competitiveness is an indispensable characteristic or quality for a strategy. It is all the more problematic when the topic has little or no presence in the methods of developing social media strategies. Strategies without taking competition into account are competitive only more or less by chance. A strategy development of this kind can therefore be understood as grossly negligent.

Definition and meaning of competitiveness

One quality of a social media strategy is that its content and focus can keep up with or exceed the performance of your specific competition. The decisive factor is the perspective of those who are to be addressed by the strategy, i.e. usually the customers or potential customers of the markets that we are working on with the strategy.

Requirement of competitiveness

The task of a strategy is to be competitive. However, competitiveness is a relative state that is subject to change. In order to develop competitive strategies we need

  • knowledge of competitors
  • knowledge of the competition’s achievements (social media strategies of the competition)
  • a performance of our social media strategy is above the performance of the competition

Knowledge of competitors

If we decide to work on certain topics with our social media strategy, we also decide to compete in these topics. Focusing on topics also makes it easier to identify the relevant social media providers with whom we are in competition. Competition on social media is relatively easy to find.

Knowledge of the performance of the competition

Determining the services of other providers is the next step and a little more challenging. With the services we also determine the bar above which the performance of our strategy should be. It should always be noted that simply “catching up” or “catching up” is not a behavior that will ensure long-term advantages. When developing our strategy, we must remember that our competitors for attention are also evolving. Anyone who always measures themselves against the current status of their competitors will always be behind, but will rarely reach a leadership position.

In other words: we are well advised to focus not only on the current situation of the competition but also on where it can be in the next few years if it wants to.

In order to be able to assess the performance of other companies, it is helpful to analyze the social media performance potential of the respective provider. Particularly in the structural area, every provider of offers and services is relatively fixed because changing usage formats means a major disruption that a provider is extremely reluctant to risk. This makes the performance potential of the usage formats or social media channels a helpful approach to qualitatively assess the performance quality of other providers in social media. The assessment of the quantitative performance potential should take into account the fact that we should not enter into a material battle on the level of quantity if we cannot be absolutely sure that we will win this dispute. And even then we should keep an eye on their resource requirements.

Performance of our social media strategy

Wherever we design the content of our social media strategy, we keep an eye on the impact we want to achieve in the market. And we pay attention to the effort required to achieve this effect. Whether a possible effect can be achieved depends not least on how relevant and useful the respective offer is in comparison to other offers. What promises success on its own does not necessarily have to be convincing in the market.

This results in several metrics for the performance of our social media strategy. We must realize a desired corporate benefit, the resources required for this benefit must be permanently available and we must use these services to create a recognizable, relevant benefit for the users.

Once all of this has been achieved, our performance must then be perceived in the market as more convincing, useful and attractive than the performance of other competitors.

Designing competitiveness

Shaping the competitive situation is an elementary task of a social media strategy. This means that the decision about the competition we enter with the respective strategy is one of the most important strategy decisions. From this, concrete requirements for the performance of the strategy are derived that are crucial for the success of the strategy.

In the development of social media strategies there are at least two phases or decisions in which we actively shape or at least influence the competitiveness of the strategy.

  • Decision on markets/issues
  • Decision on the content of the strategy

Decision on topics/markets

When we decide on the topics we want to address with the respective strategy, we decide on the markets and the benefits that can be achieved there with social media. But we also decide on the competition we enter. The decision about the topics, markets and the possible business benefits from social media should take this aspect into account very carefully. If we put it at a lower or even last place, we run the risk of developing a strategy that is less likely to be successful.

If we ignore the competitive situation when deciding on topics/markets, we run the risk of aligning a strategy with a competition that we may not be able to win or that requires resources that do not generate the benefits resulting from the strategy economically.

With insufficient consideration, we endanger the success of a strategy and its economic benefits.

Bottom line: when developing our strategy, we decide on the topics and markets in which we can be successful in competition.

Decisions about the content of the strategy

When we decide on the content of our social media strategy, we automatically decide on the competitiveness of this strategy. As much as possible of our strategy should be able to stand up to competition. If they don’t, our strategy will not be successful. Existing in competition specifically means that the content of our social media strategy must provide clear competitive advantages that are recognizable and relevant to the user, at least in the crucial elements of the strategy. Otherwise it is unlikely that our strategy will be successful.

When we decide on content for a social media strategy, we need to ensure its competitive performance. Content that is not competitive in itself does not contribute to the competitiveness of the strategy and thus to its success.

The competitiveness of content in certain topics is also an indicator of how likely we are to be competitive in these topics. And thus help with the question of whether we should enter into competition on these topics – in social media.

Structural competitive advantages of a social media strategy are based in particular on the corresponding social media performance potential with which we can differentiate ourselves structurally. This is content that is built on social media structures that a provider cannot change at short notice or at will. For example, the usage format or the social media channels. But user benefit can also form the basis of structural advantages if the benefit requires a structure that is not quickly available. In addition, user participation or user motivation via the structures used are also suitable for enabling structural advantages in a direct comparison of social media strategies.

Competitiveness in strategy development

Where we place the criterion of competitiveness in strategy development is partly a question of our own approach. At the end of the strategy definition there must be a competitive strategy.

However, when defining the content of a strategy, it makes sense to set the relevant benchmark early on so that we do not consider measures and concepts whose impact on the competition is ultimately questionable. Strategy development must also be based on cost-effectiveness and effectiveness in its processes.

It makes more sense to develop the content of a social media strategy from the outset from the perspective of competitiveness. This saves us some dead ends early on. It is also advantageous to pay attention to the development of structural competitive advantages where this is technically possible.

If we have a structured social media performance potential that includes the respective competitive quality of its components, it is easier to derive correspondingly powerful strategy content.

Competitiveness as a strategic decision criterion

Developing strategies with a “built-in competitive advantage” is an exciting challenge, but also has its limits on feasibility. If all possible points are already occupied by other providers, strategy development can easily become a frustrating matter. After all, no one wants to start with a strategy from which it is clear that there is little to be gained from it.

In such situations – where it is certain that there is no flower pot to be won in certain areas (topics/markets) or, at best, the role of a fellow player is still left – the question arises as to the usefulness of the commitment. It may be wiser to then focus on other issues where success is more likely or even possible. That’s why insights from a completely occupied market without relevant scope are still frustrating, but at the same time valuable because they allow us to use company resources in a more meaningful way.

Competition as a component of strategy

We have recognized the role of competition as a shaping force in strategy development. Taking this force into account as a formal component of strategy has more than a purely formal meaning. It doesn’t take into account the meaning. It also makes two valuable contributions to the success of the strategy.

With competition as a fixed strategy component, we create a central overview of the competitive situation. Last but not least, this makes it easier to monitor the competitive situation and adapt a strategy to changes in competition.

If we take into account the interactions with other important components of the social media strategy, we can also more reliably recognize the effects of changes in the competitive situation on the content of the entire strategy.

Competition and strategy management

Strategies that are not actively managed are orphans that no one cares about. Securing strategies a permanent place in the company’s everyday life, controlling their results and keeping them fit and efficient is the task of social media strategy management. This may be another function that must be implemented by the social media manager to the best of his ability and knowledge. It is better if this task is carried out by a social media strategist who focuses on strategy and its implementation.

If a social media strategy has a dedicated competition component, it is much easier for those responsible for the strategy to regularly review this area and adjust the strategy in a timely manner.

If the impulse to adapt and update a strategy comes from the market, the strategy has long since lost its effectiveness and the company has lost its benefits.

Strategy evaluation and competition

The performance of a strategy in comparison is an important criterion for strategy evaluation. We use this approach to compare the effectiveness of different strategy versions as well as to compare our own strategies and strategy drafts with the strategies of other providers.

Further information on strategy and social media

  • you can get from my posts on LinkedIn. Follow me or connect.
  • can be found in the social media strategy blog on this website. I particularly recommend these posts to you

Other resources on strategy

To the strategy course

Here you can find further information about the pbsm.strategy course.