How to Conduct the Best Competitive Research

[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

Everyone wants to know what the other guy is doing, and there’s now a super easy way to dig into the competition: Dash Hudson’s brand new Visual IQ tool.

See below for what it does, why you need it, and how to get it.

We’ll be going through some of H&M’s content segments below for demonstration purposes, from the perspective of the Dash Hudson account.

Not too long ago, Dash Hudson introduced Vision to the world, a software powered by AI and computer vision to rev up ROI through visual marketing. The product is an impressive display of intelligent image recognition powered by machine learning for marketers to lean on to execute their best work. Not to mention seriously boost their brand’s Instagram engagement. The possibilities are vast as it relates to content analysis, and our customers are able to get really creative with how they use the solution to really maximize all of its benefits.

Because Vision is a software that is able to read, analyze, and understand content, it helps marketers grasp what’s effective and what’s falling flat. It means that they can guarantee engaging visual marketing output on every single occasion. By the same admission, the Vision software makes it easy to identify and course-correct shortcomings, and form more meaningful connections with audiences. Gotta tell ya, the combo of both data and intuition is one hell of an Instagram party trick.

So imagine if you were able to also get Instagram insights about your competition’s content? Sound too good to be true? It’s not.

H&M’s portrait-style posts are a clear content segment for the brand, but these posts would NOT perform well on the Dash Hudson account, as per indicated with the little grey arrow pointing down in the top right corner of each thumbnail.

What Do You Mean?

Inside of Dash Hudson’s Vision software now lives a section called Visual IQ, and it’s content monitoring on steroids. This competitor analysis tool finally lets you tap into your voyeuristic inclinations by inputting any brand handle to dig into their visual segments. The best part is that this competitive intelligence technology relays how they would perform on your own account.

Crazy, right?!

Once a competitor’s handle is in and the data has finished collecting, clear trending content segments will emerge. You can sort them to be analyzed in three different ways:

Most Photos

This sweeps up the most photos possible into separate content categories. It uncovers the highest volume of images and segments for you to sift through.

Most Representative

This option surfaces segments with the least discrepancy between what’s in the images populating each pillar. When in this order, all photos belonging to a trend block will have uncanny similarities.

Best Opportunity

Essentially, the content segments that emerge from this category are the ones generating the most engagement but being posted the least often. These image blocks have the biggest gap between the engagements they bring in versus the frequency of their output.

These three methods of content classification for your competitors’ images can really help you understand what it is they’re acing, what they seem to be getting wrong, the types of trends they are onboard with, and how all that affects your own brand strategy.

When ordered by “Most Photos,” Vision recruits the most amount of images posted to H&M’s account to categorize into trend segments. These fun flat lays are a clear staple for the brand, and are for the most part predicted to do quite well on the Dash Hudson account.

Why Do I Need This?

Visual IQ is a competitive research tool to help brands learn what’s happening in the social space in real time by digging into the images of their competitors. That’s the short explanation.

Here are all the other rad things it will help you with.

  • Adjusting your own strategy. If you feel like you’ve been doing poorly in terms of performance, diving into what your competitors are doing can really help you determine what you could be improving upon. Surveying your top competition’s visual trends will surface your major differences, and lend you a better hold on your own content deficiencies (nobody’s perfect!).
  • Discovering new trends within your industry. As a social media specialist with a million things on your plate, you might not have been aware that citrus was all the rage atm. Because you only have one brain and limitations as a human, it’s possible that certain things eclipse you, even if they pertain to your role. Visual IQ will enable you to find content trends that are prevalent in your own niche by checking out what other brands are posting the most often. You’ll never be behind the fads again.
  • Understanding the differences between their audiences and your own. You’ll be seeing what’s resonating on competitor accounts, and whether or not that same content would perform well on yours. Highlighting what’s predicted to do poorly for your brand based on rival content trends can clear up your point of differentiation. The technology will tell you what will crush it on your own feed and what will totally bomb. Your lay of the competitive land will be greater, making you strong and mighty.
  • Become a force. The new Visual IQ functionality in the Vision software is primarily a research tool. It allows you to learn what is working for any other brand and understand what they’re investing in. Just think about it: research leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Use it wisely.
  • Discover what you’ve always wanted to know. For real though, don’t pretend like you haven’t been waiting your entire career to peek at what other brands are doing.

Competitor analysis in marketing is a must, but this really kicks it up a notch by scrutinizing segments on a granular level, and then tying things back to how their activity could affect yours.

How Do I Get It?

Become a Dash Hudson customer if you aren’t already. Tell us about your needs, how we can help solve your problems, and what kind of services you are looking for. It’s that simple.

If you’re already part of the DH fam, get in touch with your lovely customer success representative and she’ll get you sorted! 🤗

This category of images (looks like tight shots of people) represents a great content opportunity for H&M’s Insta: you can see that the segment only accounts for 5.4% of its posts, yet it generates 4.7% of all engagements. The majority of these would likely perform well on the Dash Hudson account, as indicated with the green upward arrow in the thumbnails.

When we introduced Vision a few weeks back, we left you with the thought of the tool being great for potentially determining the fit of an influencer, and we’re currently working on something that could take it a step further. This tool would specifically enable you to target on-brand users to explore their content for curation possibilities, collaboration opportunities, and discovery.

In the meantime, have fun with all that competitive research: dig in, explore, discern, let yourself be led by your curiosity. Have a white board sesh. Or better yet, do it with a glass of red in hand after regular work hours. Just sayin.

Are you curious about Vision and all of its performance-boosting power? Get in touch today to learn how we can help.




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Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson

Visual marketing platform built for and used by the world’s most discerning brands and publishers.

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