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If you are looking to do content marketing on social media platforms, you need to ask yourself a very important question. This is a fundamental question that should guide your content marketing strategy. Why reinvent the wheel? This is very important because it’s too easy to get excited about content that you think is so hot, your target audience members can’t help but be impressed by that content.

In fact, it’s easy to imagine that they’re so impressed that they would click on the link and buy stuff on your website. Things hardly work out that way. Instead, effective content marketing involves using high-quality content that has an objectively higher chance of attracting eyeballs and getting clicks.

It’s very hard to come up with such amazing content right off the top of your head. Instead, you need to base it on something more objective. This is why you should focus on not reinventing the wheel. Instead, look to your competition.

The Good News About Your Competitors on Social Media

Regardless of your niche, your competitors have probably beat you to the punch on social media. Whether you are a small local business or a fast growing medium sized business, chances are quite good your competitors are already on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it.

Instead of being frustrated or bummed out by this, take it for what it is: great news. Seriously. Since they’re already on those social media platforms, they can function as case studies for you to figure out which content works and which content doesn’t work.

You only need to figure out what they’re doing and find inspiration in what they’re doing right to get a head start. You end up using your competitors to do important research that can put you at a strategic competitive advantage.

The Bottom Line: Build On Your Competitors Strengths and Avoid Their Screw Ups

Like any other organisation, your competitors probably did a few things right and did many things wrong. The good news is, you don’t have to make the same mistakes. Just look at their successful content and reverse engineer it so you can compete with them toe to toe.

Here is a step by step guide to more effective content marketing using reverse engineering. Your objective is to create valuable content. Again, this is very hard to figure out on your own.

If you own a small business or you’re a solopreneur, trial and error is expensive. You probably don’t need to be reminded of this. This is why it’s always a good idea to use your competitors for both content ideas as well as building an audience for that reverse engineered content. Here’s a step by step guide.

Step #1: Find existing competitors in your niche

Find their accounts via the bio keywords on Twitter. Also, you can use similar keywords on Facebook’s open graph search system and look for niche-related groups and pages.

Step #2: Find and analyse your competitor’s content

Now that you’ve found some of your competitors, look at their Facebook pages or their Twitter feeds. Take a long, hard look at their content. Pay attention to which content gets the most likes, shares or, in the case of Twitter, retweets. It’s important to zero in on their most popular pieces of content. This tells you which content to produce.

Step #3: Find their content distribution network on Twitter and Facebook

You should already have a list of Facebook pages and groups if you followed Step #1 correctly. On Twitter, find the most retweeted tweets on your competitor’s feeds and find the direct URL of those tweets. Enter this direct tweet URL into Twitter’s search box to find people who retweeted or quoted them. Take note of all these other accounts. This is going to be your distribution network for your own reverse engineered content.

Step #4: Create better content

Now that you have a clear idea which pieces of content your competitors do really well with, the next step is to improve this content. How can you improve content that is already excellent?

Well, if it’s mostly text content, try to convert it into an infographic. Maybe you can put up a better header graphic on similar content. Also, make sure that the information in your own version of popular content is the most up to date. You can pack more information in your own version, as well as using a better headline.

How can you spice up your headline? Well, you can make it more provocative, you can make it controversial, or you can use ViralNova’s technique of putting an information gap in the title.

For example, instead of saying that “list marketing works,” you can use a headline like, “I did not know this simple everyday tool is used by top marketers to make thousands of dollars a day” or something along those lines.

What you want to do is to emotionally lure in the reader because there’s a missing piece of information in the title. You don’t give away a farm in the title of your article.

Step #5: Post the improved content on your account and on your distribution network

On Twitter, you can post the content on your Twitter feed, and then you tag influencers that have retweeted your competitor’s similar content. You also should use the hashtags that they used. This is how you replicate the original content’s distribution network.

On Facebook, you simply take your own better version and you post it on the Facebook groups and pages the original version was posted on. Keep in mind that, at this point, you have a choice on how you choose to share the content.

You can share a link that goes directly to your website, or you can post the link on your Facebook page onto other parts of Facebook. When people in a group see that you have linked to your Facebook page, there will be a “like” icon that shows up. When they click that “like,” they start following your Facebook page.

Best Practices

It’s very important to study the content patterns of your competitors. This is the key to effective content marketing. Copy their hashtags as well as replicate their publication timing.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you just blindly copy and leave it at that. No. What this means is you just give yourself a head start with this information, but also need to pay attention to your results. Experiment. Maybe the publication times being used by your competitors are a little bit off. Make some variations until you can come up with changes that improve your results.

Please understand that this approach to content marketing involves a long term game plan. You have to be persistent. Republish your content as you build up your content base, but ensure you add fresh content into the mix as well. You need to come up with new content regularly so your followers remain engaged with your brand.

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