Building an endurance sport brand on social with analytics & benchmarking.
Every brand owner in the endurance sport industry will be aware of the need to embrace social media, as it enables customer targeting in an unprecedented way. Yet, while the main social platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube, amongst others – appear to be here to stay, they can be viewed as an ever-changing and, at times, bewildering landscape.
It is in this challenging marketing environment that we might reflect on the following quote (attributed to a number of entrepreneurs and industrialists since it was first uttered around 100 years ago): “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”
As brand owners, or as individuals tasked with marketing a brand in the endurance sport category, we should ask ourselves if we 100% know the value of the amount being spent (time and money) on social. Or, to put the question another way, do we have a complete handle on the real effectiveness of our spend on social media – is any time or money being wasted?
Arguably this is where competitive intelligence comes in. Here we can track the effectiveness of individual social media activity, by benchmarking against the competition. By doing so, and measuring against competitors and category performance, a brand knows what it has to do, day-in and day-out, in order to be successful. If we don’t benchmark, we run the risk of competitors getting ahead.
As Warren Buffett eloquently put it, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."
>>> Example: sample company social analytics assessment
>>> Instagram infographic
Back to basics first
It’s always best to start with the basics; and there are several best-practice steps or ‘determiners’ for brand owners/marketers that should be reviewed on an ongoing basis:
Determine (and regularly review) the preferred social channels for your brand. In addition to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube – it’s worth ensuring that company LinkedIn pages are updated alongside a review of other platforms, such as Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. Allocate a realistic time to spend on managing and posting via each social channel.
Determine who within your team will do the day-to-day brand activation on social. How will they report back to you, and the team, on progress? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you set to track progress (more on this later); and how regularly, e.g. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, will you review these KPIs and set new objectives/targets?
Determine how your brand will use video, which, after all, remains the key medium for triggering activation (across all social platforms). Alongside some impactful pictures, ensure that video is a mainstay of your content plan for social, and be creative. You can get up close and personal with sponsored athletes, or go behind-the-scenes with new product developments – with video a primary way to tell your evolving brand story.
Determine and refresh your own understanding of social media. Even if you choose to delegate social activation to a team member or a third-party agency, it is your brand after all, and you should be familiar with the nuances and trends of social media as much as possible. Doing so will ensure that your brand voice and identity in social will properly represent your own brand values.
How you measure up
Having determined some social media best practices, it is next important to ask: ‘how does my brand stack up against (1) the endurance sport industry overall; (2) my specific endurance sport market sector; and (3) against my key competitors?’
Knowing this information gives you a context as to how your brand is faring in social media. You can track if your brand is succeeding or failing, compared to endurance sport industry averages (e.g. across varying sectors, such as gear/products, coaching, media, retailers and races), and compared to competitor brands. Once you’ve clarified how you measure up, you can then adapt and refine your activation in each social channel.
As a resource for the endurance sport industry, MultiSport Research has produced reports and data tools to assist brand owners and marketers. This Endurance Sport Social Analytics (ESSA) data helps brands (e.g. your product, service, store, event) navigate the latest trends in social in order to build your brand engagement & following.
Endurance Sport Social Analytics (ESSA) reports and data
The reports address the Gear and Media categories specifically, with further category reports in the pipeline. These reports include:
Top 10 brand rankings for all key KPIs;
Top words and hashtags used;
Time of day charts;
Engagement matrix to determine how each type of post (video, picture, link, text) could be deployed;
An Excel spreadsheet with all raw data for all brands; and
Extensive examples of actual top performing posts to illustrate which types of posts generate the highest interactions.
The ESSA Data is full dataset, available as an Excel file download.
This comprehensive datasheet benchmarks 720+ leading international endurance sport companies across social media so that you can benchmark your brand directly against your main competitors.
84 metrics/key performance indicators (KPIs) analyzed.
Latest insights available via a one-off download of the most recent 4-week period data, or via regular updates throughout the year.
Alongside the raw data, charts and tables provide key analysis and insights to get a full view of endurance sport companies' social activity.
ESSA Gear Report as an example
If we start with the reports, and use the Feb 2018 Gear report as an example:
Contents (p2): this shows the breakdown with the report and its respective sections – Introduction; Platform Comparison; Facebook Analysis; Instagram Analysis; Twitter Analysis; YouTube Analysis; followed by the top posts sections for each of the four main social channels; and then the sub-category analysis.
As you can see from the Contents page, it is a comprehensive report. It is designed to be a reference document with the accompanying Excel datasheet more of a day-to-day tool.
Call to Action (p7): sets out how each section can be used, from the Platform Comparison through to the Excel Spreadsheet.
Executive Summary (p8): sets out the main findings from the report. Give this one-page summary a read through to get familiarized with some of the trends observed in social media. This includes some of the themes coming through in top-performing posts through to some of the key findings in each of the product categories.
Platform Comparison: use this section to see how each of the platforms compare with respect to key metrics – which platform has the highest growth overall, which has the best engagement, etc.
Main KPIs (p10): this page alone illustrates the scale of social media, and the challenges faced by those managing their brand in social. There are an extensive number of KPIs, with Facebook having the most. Facebook also has specific markers such as weighted engagement and weighted post-interaction. These are particularly helpful for smaller brands (with lower follower numbers) to track how they stack up.
Understanding the Data (p11): gives an overview of the main KPI definitions. This is aimed at being helpful with those who are less familiar with some key terms in social media measurement, such as engagement, post-interaction, etc.
Brand marketers should make a note of some key KPIs to start with, such as posts per day, growth and engagement. These can be used to compare against competitor brands and category averages as a starter.
Before drilling into a direct comparison of your brand versus competitors, category averages, etc., it may be helpful to continue with the report and some of its headline pages.
Start with the overall endurance sport ‘Size of Universe’ (p13). Chart 1 plots ‘Total Profiles Analyzed’, illustrating how endurance sport social brands are allocated across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube. Compare this with Chart 2, ‘Sum of all Fans’, to see the dominance of Facebook and Instagram.
Having viewed the other charts in the Platform Comparison section, skip to ‘Engagement, Interaction, Frequency’ (p17). Review the ‘Engagement and Post-Interaction’ averages and ‘Posts Frequency and Views/Reactions per Post’ for all brands combined. Here, it is evident that Instagram is leading the way. How does your brand compare? Are you active in the right areas, and above or below these averages?
As a next step, you can drill into the Key Statistics for Facebook (p19), Instagram (p33), Twitter (p47) and YouTube (p61). For each platform review the fan/follower numbers, post per day averages, engagement and growth rates. Again, how does your brand compare with these benchmark averages? Where does your brand need to focus most attention?
The next sections with the ESSA Gear report show a number of top posts with findings/observations about these posts. You can dip in and out of these sections are you see fit, coming back to review what has performed well as you build social campaigns for your own brand.
Findings from Facebook (p75) show the types of posts that were observed to be performing well during the 8-week period (Dec 6, 2017 to Jan 30, 2018) where data was tracked for the Gear report. From giveaways/contests to feel good themes, challenges and new product offerings, a variety of Facebook posts have resonated with fans.
Each example post in the report is clickable for you to view it live on social.
Instagram findings/example posts are on p92. Twitter findings/example posts start from p109; with YouTube findings/posts from p126.
Once you have measured overall averages and reviewed example posts you can drill into the data for the category that is most relevant to your brand. Within the Gear report, the category sections are laid out alphabetically:
Accessories (p137), Apparel (p156), Bike (p174), Nutrition (p192), Shoe (p211), Software (p229), Trainer/Electronics/Power (p247), Wetsuit (p265).
Each of these Gear sub-category sections shows the overall trends for that category as well as top 10 rankings for each of the four main social channels, as well as the best time of day (and day of the week) to post, types of posts on Facebook specifically, and frequently used words/hashtags used on Facebook. For top 10 brands you can click on each of these to visit that brand’s specific social media page.
ESSA Data (Excel)
Each of the Endurance Sport Social Analytics (ESSA) reports has an accompanying Excel datasheet. This is intended as more of a working day-to-day document.
The full ESSA Data is a more comprehensive dataset as it covers all 720 endurance sport brands tracked, from the Coach to Gear, Media, Race and Retail categories.
The Excel data enables brands to track against specific key competitors. Here, a brand owner can simply use the Excel filter drop-down to uncheck ‘Select All’ and then select the checkbox against particular brands including his/her own brand. This filtered set of data then gives a comparison, whether in the ‘Master_Companies’ tab, or for a specific social platform (e.g. ‘FBData’ tab for Facebook).
The filtered data will clearly show a brand owner where his/her brand is outperforming or underperforming against competitor brands. For example, within Facebook, the weighted engagement (column E of ‘FBData’ tab) for your brand might be below that of either one or more of your competitors. Review each of the columns in the ‘FBData’ tab to determine where you are above or below. How does Page Performance Index (column M) stack up? What about the % of picture vs video vs link posts. You can also click each competitor’s Facebook page (column B) to see online those of your competitor’s social posts that have resonated.
Within the Excel data, repeat the exercise of filtering your brand against competitor brands for each of the ‘FBData’, ‘InstData’, ‘TWData’ and ‘YTData’ tabs. Make a note of the KPIs where your brand is outperforming or underperforming against competitor brands. This might apply to engagement, interaction, average number of fans, average weekly growth, posts per day, etc.
The full ESSA Data (including all 720 brand tracked and the latest 4-weekly data) also has tabs for ‘Category_Charts’, as well as a comparison across platforms (‘PlatformCompData’) and breakdowns of the latest data across each of the categories: Gear, Media, Coach, Retail and Race.
Keep using the data
Review all social activity for your brand and measure against the KPIs – giving particular attention to areas where your brand is underperforming against the average. Set targets and continue to track key KPIs, refining those KPIs that you prioritize as you progress.
On an ongoing basis (for the regularly updated full ESSA Data, and for the reports) repeat all of the above numbered steps. Continually analyse, review and adapt the way that your brand engages with your audience on each of the four main social media channels.
This ‘analyse, review, adapt’ process (tracking all 2400+ social media profiles in the ESSA Data, for 720+ endurance sport brands) will optimise your social media engagement; and, by tracking against competitors you will have a measure on how to succeed in building your brand in social.
"Being at least as good as the leader is a prerequisite to being competitive.”
— Peter Drucker
Thank you for your time; and for any questions on any of the points raised, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Further details can be found at: multisportresearch.com/reports.