Beginner Guide

How to Analyze Competitors on Instagram to Reach Your Goals

Circa 2010, Instagram was a casual photo-sharing app for silly selfies and over-saturated food pics. In just a decade, the app has grown into one of the foremost social media platforms with over 1 billion users. Some 90% of users follow a brand on Instagram and also have over 200 million business accounts on the app. According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index™, 49% of consumers and 59% of marketers anticipate using IG in the next 12 months.

It is imperative for brands to devise a game plan to stand out against their competitors. Instagram competitor analysis can help brands compete with competitors in the marketplace by uncovering pieces of their strategy, from content gaps to publishing behavior.

You can look for opportunities in the data to outperform your competitors and think about what is most valuable to your followers. This will save you time as you are not reinventing the wheel, but using what you have know Will Work.

Let’s take a look at how an Instagram competitor analysis can help level the playing field so you can reach your goals.

What is Instagram Competitor Analysis Report?

Competitive analysis refers to the process of strategically researching, evaluating and comparing the strengths and weaknesses of rival companies. This includes taking an in-depth look at every aspect of your competitors’ businesses, from pricing to marketing strategy. A competitor analysis can also help you establish what makes a product or service unique, including the features that attract your target audience.

To enable brands to understand their competitors’ Instagram strategy at the profile level, Sprout Social created the Instagram Competitors Report—available in Professional plans and above. Similar to the Facebook Competitors report, you can use this report to track basic metrics like audience growth and engagement for any public Instagram profile.

Why should you do Instagram competitive analysis?

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or starting a new account, an Instagram competitor analysis report provides insights that inform and improve your social strategy, so you can maintain an edge on the network. Here are several reasons why you need to do an Instagram competitive analysis:

Establish your own KPIs through competitive benchmarking

Benchmarking your brand against competitors and related businesses will help you see how your business stacks up against others in the industry. Comparing your brand to a business of comparable size and resources can help with setting goals on Instagram.

By analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs), your brand will be able to determine what type of content performed best, how often to post and more. Tracking the KPIs of your Instagram competitors will also help you keep track of industry and social trends. Even better, you’ll be able to figure out what doesn’t work for your peers and identify ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Which Instagram Competitive Metrics Are Important?

Sprout’s Instagram Competitor Report includes average metrics for followers, engagement, audience growth, publishing behavior (different types of content posted), and top posts. Interactive graphs and accompanying data charts show trends over time, making it easy for you to visualize growth patterns. You can also use Sprout’s advanced listening tool to learn about trending industry topics and hashtags.

We have tons of metrics for your brand to learn from. Here’s a quick overview of what they mean and why they’re important:

1. Follower

The number of followers of a company represents social proof and brand affinity. Although the number of followers is a good indicator of audience size and brand loyalty, think of it as a complementary metric for engagement. In the early days of social, counting followers was the main goal, but now things are more complicated.

If an account has thousands of followers but consistently low engagement, chances are they are not really engaging with their audience. Conversely, a brand may have fewer followers but have consistent engagement, which can indicate that they are engaged with their audience and produce quality content.

2. Engagement

Sprout offers several different metrics to measure engagement, including the competitive average. Engagement is one of the top metrics because it shows how well your brand’s content matches with your target audience. Engagement includes likes and comments, and each plays a different role in your analysis.

A post with lots of likes and comments attests to its quality. Likes appear if users enjoy the post, while comments are more open. Instagram users flock to comments to share reactions and feedback, which reflect general sentiment—both positive and negative.

3. Audience Growth

Remember that the number of followers is a form of social proof and brand affinity. More followers means more eyes on your products and services, as well as increased reach and engagement.

Use the Audience Growth section to pinpoint peaks in new followers, and couple that with the Sent Messages report to understand which posts drove that growth. You can use this data to help inspire your upcoming content.

4. Publishing Behavior

Publishing behavior refers to the different types of Instagram posts published during a selected time period. These include photo, carousel and video posts. Sprout Social offers an optimal send time, but looking at the frequency of your competitors’ posts can help you determine if you’re publishing enough content.

5. Top Position

Like engagement, analyzing top positions is an important metric because it highlights the best content from your competitors. As well as viewing high-performing posts, you can see how many engagements the post received. Use the Competitive Posts report to dig deeper and draw conclusions about why a post was so successful.

Did the post perform because it is a valuable product tutorial? Was it part of a campaign? Find out what these posts accomplish that your content doesn’t and come back to the drawing board to improve your strategy.

6. Hashtag

Many brands use hashtags to increase their organic reach, so it’s important to know which tags are most relevant. Hashtags can drive your page’s growth over time and capture brand sentiment.

Avoid copying competing hashtags verbatim. Instead aim for a mix and try to create new ones, such as branded hashtags. As with the most popular hashtags, pay attention to the number of hashtags per post.

You can see your competitors’ top three hashtags under the Profile tab of the Instagram Competitor Report. Hashtags are ranked based on the total number of public engagements the contestant has received across all posts using the hashtag. You can do further hashtag analysis with Sprouts Advanced Listening Tool. With Advanced Listening, you can learn more about relevant hashtags using the competitive analysis topic template. It’s a great tool for finding trending hashtags and the conversations you’re missing.

Screenshot of the Profile tab from Sprout's Instagram Competitor Analysis Report
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Identify content gaps by analyzing competitors on Instagram

Analyzing your Instagram competitors will help you identify content gaps in your strategy. For example, if you notice that your competitors’ top posts include videos with high engagement, you should consider investing more in videos.

On the other hand, you can use an Instagram competitor analysis to identify where your competitors are falling. If you notice that your competitors aren’t posting often or never responding to comments, take this as a sign for your audience to fill a gap.

Even the biggest brands have room for improvement, which leads us to our next point about creating better content for your audience.

Create better content for your followers

Although they are your competitors, your Instagram competitors can help you create better content for your followers. Look to your competitors for inspiration and add your own spin to it. If you see a brand telling a story well, consider a different angle.

If you see an industry trend on Instagram, how can you use it to promote your products or services while showcasing your brand’s personality and value? Which brands have embraced the trend and why have their ingredients garnered so much attention?

Consider the ever-popular Instagram giveaway. They usually encourage followers to enter by completing a number of tasks such as following the brand and tagging a friend in the comments. In this case, you’ll look at brands within your niche and look at the type of award, call to action, and which companies received the highest engagement and greatest audience growth. After determining the top brand gifts running in your market, consider how to stand out based on your analysis.

How to Analyze Competitors on Instagram with Sprout

Sprout’s Instagram Competitors report is intuitive and simple, yet comprehensive enough to give you the insights you need to build your brand and engage with your audience. If you need a defined metric, just hover over the word and a definition will appear.

To view the report, click on the report icon on the left side of the screen. Click Competitors by Network and select “Instagram Competitors.”

Screenshot of Sprout's Instagram Competitor Analysis Report
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Select the time frame you want to analyze by clicking the calendar icon in the upper right corner.

Screenshot of the Timeframe button on Sprout's Instagram Competitor Analysis Report
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Click Your Profile and Competitor Profile to select the Instagram account you want to compare.

Screenshot of your profile button on Sprout's Instagram competitor analysis report
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Screenshot of competitor profile on Sprout's Instagram competitor analysis report
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From here, you can simply scroll down to see the various metrics.

Screenshot of publishing behavior from the Sprouts competitor analysis report
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If you want to see more top posts, click View Competitive Posts Report. To see the exact post on Instagram, click the timestamp at the top of the post.

Screenshot of the top post on Sprout's Instagram Competitor Analysis Report
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Understanding your Instagram competitor analysis

Now that you have the Instagram Competitors report, you can start your analysis. Take the time to delve into the details and reflect on your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Pay attention to high engagement rates and top positions in your strategy to pinpoint a potential strategy.

If you see a big jump or drop, see if the brand is doing something differently. For example, if you see increased followers, check their profile to see if they’ve partnered with an influencer or perfected a gift.

Sweep the competition with analytics reporting

The Instagram Competitor Report is part of Sprout’s analytics suite. Share competitive insights—as well as your brand’s Instagram profile report—with stakeholders by emailing PDF reports from Sprout. By doing so, you can demonstrate the success of your brand or secure purchases for future campaigns.

To learn more about our Instagram Competitive Report, practice and sign up for a free 30-day trial.

How to Analyze Competitors on Instagram to Reach Your Goals The post first appeared on Sprout Social.

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