An updated article by Rob Robinson
Although much is written about the awareness and business benefit of social media marketing, little is written about using social media postings to influence the usage of social media by one’s competitors.
Definition of Social Media Counter-Marketing: Social media postings directed against competitor social media postings.
While not a new concept, counter-marketing with social media does provide companies a unique way to increase awareness and demand while at the same time attempting to neutralize the full impact of competitor social media marketing. The goal of this type of counter-marketing is to take advantage of the communications opportunities presented by competitors and to ensure competitors are aware that you will review, respond, and react as appropriate to their posts. The aim is not to disparage competitors or detract from their social media efforts, but to translate their work into another opportunity to bring awareness to your company, message, and offerings.
Three Techniques for Counter-Marketing with Social Media
Three techniques that can be used to help organize social media counter-marketing efforts include connecting, contesting, and challenging competitors in the social media field of play.
Provided below is a short explanation of each of these techniques:
- Connecting: Ensures competitors know you are there and monitoring their posts. An example of this technique would be following a competitor’s social media conduits (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) and retweeting or liking posts you agree with.
- Contesting: Ensures competitors know that you will contest their statements where appropriate. Contesting is not disagreeing with a competitor’s message, but responding in a manner that moves the attention beyond the competitor and on to your company or view. An example of this technique would be the commenting on posts where you may have an alternative view or approach you would recommend.
- Challenging: Ensures competitors know that you will question their statements as appropriate.
Challenging is the overt disagreement with a competitor’s message as posted. An example of this technique would be commenting that the message posted by a competitor is not accurate or may need more context.
These techniques should be employed to maximize their impact and not used on every post or at every opportunity. The aim is recognition as part of the social media conversation, not becoming the conversation.
Three Benefits of Counter-Marketing with Social Media
While there are many benefits to social media counter-marketing, three benefits that stand out are:
- An increased understanding of competitor social sharing approaches.
- An increased ability to influence competitor social sharing messaging.
- An increased ability to influence audiences with your company’s message.
The increased understanding of competitor sharing, coupled with the ability to leverage competitor efforts for your benefit makes social media counter-marketing worth consideration by any company seeking to leverage social media as a marketing tool. If your company has the expertise and resources to establish a social media counter-marketing program, they should consider it. If your company does not have the internal resources to develop such a program, there are individuals and organizations that may be able to help start and grow a program under your guidance.
Six Steps to Counter-Marketing with Social Media
While there are many ways to approach social media counter-marketing, the following six-step approach may help you get started:
- Establish a systematic social sharing program for your company.
- Determine competitors that you would like to follow and develop a listening plan for the competitors.
- Begin listening to competitor social sharing, and get a feel for communication patterns and messaging.
- Connect with competitors by liking their posts or commenting on posts you find agreeable.
- Contest competitor posts that you find an issue with by commenting on posts of issue.
- Challenge competitor posts where you believe alternative views exist by commenting on posts of issue.
Although not all-inclusive, these steps may help you begin to translate planning into execution and help your company enjoy the benefits of social media counter-marketing.
- The Fabric of Digital Marketing: A Concise List of Tools
- Taking Marketing Seriously? Indicators, Impact, and Individuals