... American Airlines vs United Airlines, Nike vs Adidas and McDonald's vs Burger King.
Mr Liebling compares these corporate contests with the historic rivalry between basketball legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson who mutually obsessed over each other's performance. Who put in more hours of practice each day? Who had the better weekly game stats? Who won the most MVP (Most Valuable Player) honours?
Argues Leibling: "Brands can and should look to others in their traditional competitive set to help guide their social media efforts. This can range from understanding on which social networks to focus resources, to uncovering specific content or campaigns that elicit high engagement from consumers generally interested in travel, shoes, fast food or whatever.
He cites three examples of how this might work.
1. Customer service insights: Airlines and hospitality brands have typically led the charge on using social media for customer service. Brands outside of the sector such as financial or credit card companies that also deal with a lot of customer service-related issues can look to the social strategies of airlines for best practices. These KPIs can include response-rate percentage, average response time, and response type -- for example, does the brand request a direct message, apologise openly, etc.
2. Event-based marketing: As the 2014 Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup demonstrated, event-based marketing via social media is an immense opportunity for brands to reach engaged audiences all over the globe. Brands (even ones that aren't official event sponsors) can benchmark their social efforts against other sponsors outside of their sector. For example, a brand like Coke could benchmark its social content and campaigns against Sony or Visa for a major event - not just against other beverage or cola brands.
3. Fan affinity: Consumers often choose products based on demographics and psychographics, and brands can learn a lot by observing the social strategies of brands that fall outside of their sector but target the same consumer. For example, an auto brand could look at the social media efforts of a clothing brand that goes after the same young affluent consumer. This data informs what type of content each brand is up against from a share-of-voice perspective with that specific audience. Brands can look to brands outside of their sector to identify specific content and campaigns that resonate well (or have failed) with the audience they have in common.
Leibling poses a key question to the CMOs of big brands: Are you observing brands on social media outside of your sector? If not, you may be missing insights that can yield unexpected ideas, push you to think differently and stir up new wells of creativity that might otherwise remain stagnant.
Read the original unabridged AdAge.com article.