How to Research Competitors on Instagram

How to research competitors on instagram

Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for brand and product promotion. It has more than 1 billion active users per month, nearly 2/3 of them aged between 18 to 29. It’s also an emerging app for online shoppers, with around 130 million Instagram users clicking on Instagram Shopping posts. 

If you’re looking at Instagram as an additional advertising and sales platform, you are not alone. Your competitors might also be thinking the same thing. In fact, they might already have a long-standing presence on Instagram. To gain a foothold in this upcoming market, you need to know what your competitors are doing with their Instagram business accounts. 

This article will discuss how to do Instagram competitor research. You’ll discover strategies you can use to identify your competitors and better understand the methods they are applying to grow their business.

Why Should You Look Into Your Instagram Competitors?

Before we get too far into this article, let’s cover the basics. You should understand the importance of competitor research. In case you don’t, here are three reasons why you should perform competitor research.

  1. Learn What You’re up Against

Regardless of your niche, you have a limited target audience. You will be competing with other companies to gain people’s attention. You need to know who your main competitors are and the growth strategies they are applying.

Researching your competitors allows you to gauge what’s working. A good understanding of the competitor landscape can also help you define your Unique Selling Point. That is often critical to the success of your marketing efforts.

  1. Gain Inspiration

The Instagram algorithm is constantly changing, alongside platform features. The way you should market yourself and the kind of content you create on Instagram needs to evolve to account for those changes.

Within this context, competitor research effectively identifies marketing trends that you should jump on. Moreover, through competitor analysis, you might find campaigns that inspire your future marketing efforts.

Keep in mind, though, that imitating a competitor will only take you so far. People generally pay more attention to trendsetters than imitators.

  1. Assess Your Success

Another major benefit of competitor analysis is benchmarking. You should look at your competition and monitor how they are performing over time. For example, you can track the number of posts and stories competitors publish every week.

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You can then set Key Performance Indicators to see the benefits this strategy is generating. For example, effective monitoring enables you to identify when a competitor gets a sudden jump in follower numbers. You can use those insights to try and determine how they are gaining those followers so quickly.

Using data to assess the success of your campaigns and benchmarking against competitors will help you optimize your strategy over time. That can pay long-term dividends.

Who Are Your Competitors?

In today’s age, there is competition in business everywhere. Even if you’re the only one selling your product (which is unlikely), you’d still have other businesses to compete with. 

It is essential to identify your top competitors. It’ll help you measure your performance against industry standards and spot ways you can outmatch them. You should know your main competitors. The first thing you should do is check if those competitors have a presence on Instagram. Most of them probably will, but some of them might not.

In addition to searching for your competitors, you should also review who your primary Instagram competitors are. It’s a good idea to make a list of your top five competitors. Your target should be those who are actively growing their business on Instagram. 

Here are a few ways to do this:

Instagram Search

The easiest way to find your competitors is by the Instagram search feature. You need to search for a keyword from your niche and check the top results under the Account tab.

Consider owning a zero-waste shopping gear business, for instance. To search your competitors, search the keyword “zero waste” in the search button, as done in the image below.

instagram search results

The results under the account category will reveal your biggest competitors. These are usually brands or people with the highest engagements in your niche.

Suggested For You

You can also search for competitors through the “Suggested for you” tab in your profile. You can find it by clicking on the down arrow above the Highlights section like this:

This feature shows you accounts that provide services or products similar to yours. You can then explore the suggested accounts to determine your top competitors. 

What Kind of Competitors Are They?

Your competitors can take two forms: direct competitors and indirect competitors. 

Direct competitors are those that offer the same products and services as you. Indirect competitors are, as you guessed, don’t offer the same product and service as you do but satisfy the same need differently.

For instance, if you are a decor company, your indirect competitors become brands that offer DIY decor classes since they defer potential customers from your business.

Competitor Market Position

Your competitor’s position refers to the different combinations of conditions through which they present their products and goods to customers. For instance, is their target audience of a specific age or gender? Do they offer eco-friendly products?

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These differences set your businesses apart and help customers quickly compare brands to decide the one they resonate with the most.

Competitor Strengths 

Your competitors have customers for a reason. You have to figure out why their customers stick with them and what these customers like about them.

You can then integrate some of these things into your business strategy to augment your current strengths. This way, you can reach out to other customers as well.

However, you’ll have to mind what you incorporate into your strategy since your existing customers may not like what you add. If your new addition tends to disrupt your relationship with your current customers, ignore it.

Competitor Weaknesses

Knowing your competitor’s weaknesses can help you acknowledge your strengths as you can see that you have what they lack. 

You can capitalize on that information to highlight what sets you apart from the competition in your niche. That can help gravitate some customers towards your business.

In other cases, you can also study how certain brands overcame their weaknesses to help you avoid them altogether and be prepared if you face the same challenge.

Their Customers and Customer Satisfaction 

Another critical thing to know about your competition is their customers. Who are they, and why have they chosen your competitors? 

Researching competitors helps you understand your competition’s strategy and build a better Instagram marketing structure to cover more customers as well.

You can primarily determine your competition’s best clients from the testimonials and local reviews. After all, most brands only post their leading reviews, testimonials, and recommendations on their websites.

There are more factors to look into, like your competitor’s business method innovations, products, marketing techniques, pricing, top keywords, and online presence.

How to Examine Your Instagram Competitors

There are various ways to examine your competition to help you stay on top of your game. Here are various strategies that you should use when conducting competitor analysis on Instagram.

  1. Examine the Instagram Posting Strategies

Another way to research your competitors on Instagram is by monitoring their posting strategies. The easiest way to do this is to monitor their content periodically. Start by conducting an initial competitor audit.

There are certain factors you should note about your competition’s Instagram strategy. These factors include their:

  • Number of followers
  • Post frequency
  • Engagement rate
  • Type of content produced
  • Hashtags
  • Which channel is used

Review each of your five competitors in turn. You can note down the information you gather about each competitor in a spreadsheet. That makes it easier to analyze the results. Here’s an example of an outline you could use for your analysis.

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instagram competitor analysis

The goal of this competitive analysis is to identify trends.

For example, through a review of the content, you will discover which channels your competitors use the most, the type of content they are sharing, and engagement levels. 

Ultimately, you’ll want to review the channels your competitors use the most. While some may be inclined to post images, others may be more engaged on Reels or IGTV. Also, do their customers engage them a lot through these channels? 

This information gives you insight into underused channels that you can exploit. If you find your competitor’s customers engage more on IGTV, there’s a high chance they’ll do the same on Reels. You can then share more valuable content like your brand story through Reels to draw them in.

Yes, content is also key here. You can identify the type of content your competitors post the most in their feed. It may be how-to guides, carousels, short explainer videos, or quotes even. 

For example, the Instagram account Language Nerds exclusively publishes anecdotes, memes, and jokes. It’s a strategy that works for this account. They don’t use Instagram TV or Reels to connect with their audience.

instagram competitor post

That insight is potentially quite helpful.

As a competitor, you need to think about how to use that information. The best approach is rarely directly imitating a competitor. Instead, it’s searching for opportunities based on those insights. For example, there might be the opportunity to engage that audience by creating and sharing similar types of content on Instagram Reels.

It’s important to try and identify trends as well. If you see a sudden increase in your competitors’ followers, see if they’ve done something unusual recently. Perhaps they’re working with well-known influencers, or they’re running ads. Alternatively, they could be providing a giveaway to entice people to follow their accounts.

These are all moves you’ll want to keep tabs on. Find what is working for your top competitors, personalize it, and use it to boost your business. It gives you an edge over them.

Set aside time to do this type of review at least once a quarter. Maintaining this information will help you identify how marketing strategies change over time and who is gaining the best results.

  1. Review Trending Topics and Hashtags

Now you’ve identified the hashtags that most of your competitors use. But that’s not enough. You need to review them and see which ones get the most engagement.

The first step is to look at the engagement numbers. You can do this quite easily. Simply examine the hashtag to see which ones have a crossover effect. In other words, which hashtags are being used by most of your competitors? Those are the ones that are likely to be the most relevant.

For instance, if you type “shoes” into the Instagram search box, you’ll find results like these.

instagram tags

For instance, from the above example, you can tap on the “shoes” hashtag, which is the most posted, and see how much engagement (likes, shares, comments, reactions) posts with this particular hashtag receive. Does it receive more engagement than the “shoesaddict” hashtag? 

This review is important since the most-posted hashtags may not be the ones with the most engagement.

It’s, however, difficult to monitor all these factors manually, which is why most Instagram business owners turn to social listening tools to do this work for them.

Use Social Listening Tools

Social listening tools do the heavy lifting for you. For instance, if you’re monitoring multiple competitor accounts, manual monitoring will be tiresome. Besides, you’re likely to miss out on critical data and analysis. 

These listening tools are designed to monitor continuously and give you excellent analysis of your competitors.

Take Sharelov, for instance. The tool allows you to track up to 20 different Instagram accounts so you can add as many competitors as you want.

Also, you can organize your competitor’s information by the date added, number of engagement, followers, date of publication, shares, and more.

social listening tool for monitoring instagram competitors

Source: Sharelov

These metrics give you insights into the success of your competitor’s posting strategies, allowing you to determine whether or not to incorporate them into your own.

Here are some commonly used listening tools to help build your topic and hashtag list:

  • Hootsuite
  • Talkwalker
  • Sharelov
  • Ritetag
  • All Hashtag
  • Sistrix

These social listening tools help you generate hashtags according to your keyword, audio, link, or photo to boost your Instagram page and your website traffic potential as well. 

  1. Investigate Shared Audience Segment Engagement Metrics

One critical element of competitor research is understanding your shared audience segments. After all, you’re bound to have specific customers that purchase from your competition. Given that fact, it helps to understand who you are sharing most of your audience with.

Social listening tools like Talkwalker can help you investigate shared audience engagement. The image below from Talkwaker shows Dior’s Instagram activity over a particular time.

shared audience engagement graph

Source: Social Media Examiner

Having information like this provides you with the best days your content will reach a specific demographic. 

You should monitor your competition’s audience in more minute detail. For example, you can pinpoint specific demographics, say Dior’s English-speaking Instagram followers, for more precise insights into their engagement with Dior. 

Filtering mass data allows you to zone in on a particular group and their interests, which you can learn to boost your customer appeal.

You’ll also learn the channels that work best for your customers and provide personalized solutions to their problems.

  1. Compare What People Say 

Share of voice (SOV) is the amount of exposure your brand receives. Your brand’s market presence and visibility in a particular medium among a specific audience are usually determined by your brand’s market presence and visibility. 

There are a couple of ways to boost your share of voice on Instagram. Let’s see a few:

  • Always be active on Instagram 
  • Engage your audience, not broadcast to them
  • Produce content your followers can share
  • Create content that provokes dialogue in your comments

Share of voice gauges your brand awareness, giving you insights on how much of your industry market you own compared to other brands. For example, if Levis advertises jeans 30 percent of the time, it has a 30 percent SOV in the jeans product group. When you consider the fashion industry as a whole, the SOV percentage goes lower due to brands in niches outside jeans.

Consider this comparison of Dior, Chanel, and Coach by Talkwalker.

competitor comparison in talkwalker tool

Source: Social Media Examiner

In the above diagram, you’ll notice that Chanel has a greater SOV compared to Dior and Coach over 30 days, implying that it has greater authority in the industry. Talkwalker also uses these brands’ most popular hashtags to geographically map out where the mentions are from to help you tailor your content to these areas.

map showing regional popularity of instagram hashtags

Source: Social Media Examiner

 Determining your share of voice can help you figure out the following:

  • Who knows your brand
  • Who talks about your brand
  • Who is listening to you
  • Which of your contents are working
  • What social spaces do you dominate

These are just a handful of benefits to reap from this information. You can then work out how to improve your Instagram strategy to drive more leads.

Bottom Line

The best way to stay on top of your game is by researching your competition. 

There are a few ways you can do that; identifying trending topics and hashtags in your niche, examining competitor posting strategies, investigating shared audience engagement, and comparing what your audience has to say about your brand.

Conducting competitor analysis helps you improve your Instagram strategy overall. You’ll also identify openings to outdo your competitors and increase your conversion rate. Good luck!

Matt Caron

Matt Caron is a content marketer, writer, editor, manager, community builder, and UX/UI architect. At Ardent Growth, he helps companies create successful content and get the content ranking on Google.