Social ads are a form of digital marketing that uses social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, and LinkedIn to deliver paid ads to your target audience. Social ads use engaging visuals, persuasive messaging, and interactive elements to seamlessly blend into users' feeds and capture their attention. With nearly 4.9 billion people worldwide using some form of social media, social ads are a quick and effective way to connect with your consumers and promote your brand.
To craft effective social ads that resonate with your target audience, it’s essential to understand your competitors' strategies and tactics on social media. Finding your competitors' social ads can provide valuable insights into their messaging, creativity, and target audiences. By learning from their successes and mistakes, you can refine your own approach to social ads. Monitoring your competitors' social ads can also help you identify emerging trends, recognize market gaps, and stay ahead of shifting consumer preferences. Finding your competitor’s social ads provides many advantages, and there are plenty of free and paid methods to utilize.
3 Ways to Find Your Competitor’s Social Ads
1. Manual Tracking
One of the simplest yet most effective methods to find your competitor’s social ads is to manually follow and observe their social media accounts. Start by identifying the biggest competitors in the market and follow their accounts across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, X, and LinkedIn. Pay close attention to the types of content your competitor promotes, the visual elements they use, and the messaging and language they emphasize. Note the frequency of their ads and the engagement they receive. Manual observation allows you to track the evolution of their campaigns, helping you identify patterns and tactics that resonate with the audience.
Social media platforms often display sponsored content in your feed, making it easy for you to spot your competitor’s ads without much effort. These posts often have subtle indicators, such as “sponsored” labels or call-to-action buttons. Make sure to also regularly check your competitor’s profiles for any new posts that appear to be sponsored or promotional.
This method can be time-consuming, especially when monitoring multiple competitors across various platforms. Additionally, you may not have visibility into ads that are exclusively targeted toward specific audiences. As a result, you’ll likely miss some of your competitor’s ads when you manually track them. You might also face difficulties finding these ads again when you’re ready to create your own social ads.
Despite these limitations, manually following and tracking your competitor provides you with real-time access to your competitor’s organic and sponsored content, as well as insight into their digital marketing strategies.
2. Publicly Available Platforms
You can gain a comprehensive overview of your competitor’s social ads by tapping into the wealth of data available on publicly accessible platforms. Platforms like Meta Ad Library, LinkedIn Ads, and TikTok’s Creative Center serve as invaluable resources for uncovering your competitor's social ads strategies.
Meta Ad Library
The Meta Ad Library is a powerful database that allows users to explore active and inactive ads posted on social media platforms owned by Meta (e.g. Facebook and Instagram). To use this free tool, navigate to the Meta Ad Library and select your country. Under the Ad category dropdown menu, click on “All ads”. Then, simply type in your competitor’s name or a specific topic and hit search.
In seconds, you’ll be able to see all the active and inactive social ads that your competitor has promoted on Facebook or Instagram. When you click on an ad, you can view when the ad started running, what platforms it’s being distributed on, and different versions of the ad that are being promoted.
You can also add a filter to narrow down your search to specific elements. With filters, you can look through based based on language, platform, type of media, active status, and active date. To look up a specific competitor, use the Advertiser filter and select your competitor’s specific user profile.
Similarly, LinkedIn Ads helps you explore sponsored products, services, and content that your competitor is promoting to a targeted audience of professionals. By finding your competitor’s social ads on LinkedIn, you can observe their business-focused marketing strategies.
To find your competitor’s organic ads on LinkedIn, first find their profile. Then, click on “Posts” and filter by “Ads”. While you won’t be able to view any engagement metrics, you can see what messaging and creative elements are being used.
TikTok’s Creative Center
Another valuable platform is TikTok’s Creative Center. To explore your competitor's ads on TikTok, first click on the “Inspiration” tab on the header. Then, search your competitor’s name or relevant keywords in the search bar. You can filter results by industry, objective, date, language, format, or range of likes.
Once you find your competitor’s social ads, you can see various analytics that reveal your competitor’s target market, exact audience engagement, and similar ads. By exploring the diverse range of ad formats and content within the platform, you can gather key information about your competitor’s creative approaches, messaging styles, and engagement.
The Creative Center also shows you the latest trending hashtags, songs, and videos so you can incorporate these elements to boost your social ads.
Keep in mind that while these tools provide transparency into your competitor’s social ads, they might not provide an exhaustive view. However, using these publicly available resources will help you observe your competitor’s strategies and optimize your approach to social ads.
3. Competitor Analysis Tools
Simplify your competitor monitoring efforts by exploring competitive analysis tools. These tools consolidate data from various sources, including social ads, to provide a comprehensive overview of your competitor's marketing strategies. You can analyze your competitor’s creative elements, understand their ad distribution patterns, and gauge the effectiveness of their social ads through engagement metrics. These tools can also provide demographic information, helping you identify what audiences your competitor is engaging with and refine your target market. Additionally, these tools can provide historical data, allowing you to track changes in your competitor’s strategies over time.
Here are a few popular tools that can help you track your competitor’s social ads:
Adbeat: A competitive intelligence software that tracks your competitor’s ads on various online platforms, from search engines to social media.
SpyFu: A valuable SEO and PPC tool that helps you monitor changes in your competitor’s ad copy, analyze every keyword they use, and estimate their monthly budget.
Hootsuite: Using this tool specifically focused on social media management, you can compare your social ads to your competitor’s, examine their engagement, and see what types of social ads are most popular.
Competitive analysis tools offer a streamlined and structured approach to discovering your competitor’s social ads. There are a range of options available for a variety of use cases and budgets. From free versions to more comprehensive paid subscriptions, these tools can empower businesses of all sizes to monitor their competitors and improve social media advertising strategies.
Finding your competitor’s social ads is a strategic step towards refinement and differentiation. After analyzing your competitor’s messaging, creativity, and target audiences, you can leverage these insights to develop an impactful strategy that’s authentic to your brand. If you find an approach you like, make sure to adapt your own ideas and vision to craft meaningful social ads that resonate with your audience.
Whether you manually follow social media profiles, utilize publicly available platforms, or integrate competitive analysis tools, the goal is the same: to gain insights that drive your success. So, start uncovering your competitor’s social ads using these tips to stay adaptable, well-informed, and competitive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
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Uma is passionate about creating valuable content and user-friendly projects. At university, she led community-driven programs for aspiring VCs and founders. She wants to build tools and resources that are accessible to anyone with the curiosity to get started.
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