Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SMToolbox: Gain a Competitive Edge with Insights from Rival IQ

social media tools Rival iq

Tracking competitor activity is a key part of any competitive strategy. However, keeping track of such activity, especially over many different social media channels, can be complex and time consuming. Rival IQ is a tool that makes it easy for you to monitor your competitors and to analyze comparative data. This week in SMToolbox we take a look at how Rival IQ helps you gain an edge by helping you understand your competitive landscape.
Rival IQ is relatively new tool. They recently raised almost $1m in seed funding from a number of high profile investors, including Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Seattle angel Rudy Gadre, David Cohen of Techstars and marketing guru Jay Baer. The tool aims to provide useful intelligence about the digital activities and successes of competitor companies quickly and easily.
The Rival IQ Competitor Landscape Model
Rival IQ allows you to create what it calls competitor landscapes. You simply start by adding your company and then adding the companies you compete with. The tool does assume you know your market well enough to be able to add your main competitors. If you need help, there is a feature that allows you to find similar companies; but when I tried this it didn’t work that well in identifying competitor companies, at least for me. However, most people will know their main competitors, so this shouldn't pose a big issue. 
Once you have set up your landscape, Rival IQ will crawl the competitor sites, accounts and bios to pull in relevant website and social media data from Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Rival IQ then provides you with tools and reports that allow you to analyze your competitive landscape.
For the examples in this review, I set up a competitive landscape for the elearning company Kineo and listed a number of their competitors.
Rival IQ Reports and Tools
rival iq menu
The reports and tools in Rival IQ are grouped under the menu headings above. I have highlighted below a number of the key reports available with example screenshots.
Competitive Landscape Overview
The landscape overview reports provide an overview of your social media performance relative to the competitive landscape you have identified. The report below shows how Kineo compares to the average of the competitors that I added.
rival iq reach
Top Social Content
The top social content reports, which enable you to analyze the top 50 posts on your social media channels across your competitor landscape, are very useful. Below is the top social content report for Kineo for Twitter. I have blanked out the names of the competitors, but you can see how competitor A had 34 of the top 50 tweets, and Kineo had 5 of the top 20 tweets, and the highest ranking Kineo tweet was 6th.
rival iq twitter
You can run different social content reports, such as the top 50 most commented Facebook posts or top 50 most shared posts across your competitor landscape.
Market Positioning
The positioning reports allow you to quickly do side-by-side comparisons with your competitors. You can see how your competitors optimize their websites and their keywords in the homepage title, meta description, and keyword tags. Below is a comparison of homepage meta descriptions.
rival iq description
Whilst this is publicly available information, you would have to collate it from various sources. Rival IQ makes it easy to do comparisons of content copy and meta tags. You can also quickly compare competitor social bios from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ social accounts. Using these comparison tables you can develop your understanding and insights about how each company positions itself. 
You can also produce a number of other comparison tables to compare, say, domain authority, numbers of followers, and so forth.
Monitoring Competitor Changes 
One of the nice features of Rival IQ is the way it keeps track of changes, which you can receive in a weekly email. This will alert you, for example, to changes in a competitor’s meta description or Twitter bio. Below is an example.
rival iq change
You can set up parameters within Rival IQ so that if something significant happens, such as an increase in followers or an increase in engagement, you get notified automatically. So you don't have to worry about missing your competitors' significant social media moments.
Rival IQ gives you a good overview of your competitor landscape quickly and easily. It provides very useful reporting on social media activity in particular. The tool provides you with information and analysis tools that help you draw insights from the data. I suspect for many people the change notification and monitoring reports will be particularly useful.
I think the tool could provide more value by going beyond the information that is currently included; for example, to look at the most shared content or the influencers that share and amplify a competitor’s content. However, if you want to keep an eye on your competitor activity; compare your performance and positioning; and see when they change their messaging or run significant campaigns, Rival IQ is a great competitive analysis tool.

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