Efforts to promote transparency in advertising on Facebook have given business owners an additional tool to use to scope out the competition.

You probably already know how important it is to do a competitive analysis of your business competition: you need to know how they are marketing themselves to consumers in order to do it better—or, at least, differently.

Perusing their ads is no different than seeking out their pages, checking in what they’re blogging about or how they interact. Through Facebook, it’s now even easier—and more informative.

First, you have to know who your competitors are. Common sense, right? A quick google search will turn up most of them, if you’re new to the market. Other sources like chambers of commerce will have information, too. It’s a good idea to not just search for the type of business or service, but to use other key words, too, in case you’re running an oil change shop that is inadvertently competing with a pizza joint that swaps out WD-40 on the side.

Then, take a look at what’s on their page. Look for calls to action, any type of specials, seasonal ads that are on display. Do a Facebook search and see what they’re sharing—and how much interaction it gets. They might use hashtags that you can track and determine how effective they are, or key words that you hadn’t thought of.

When you’re on their business page, scroll down the left hand side to the link ‘Ads and Info.’ When you click on it, you’ll see any ads the business is running on Facebook. The social media giant added this feature relatively recently, to combat abuse and increase transparency.

“Giving people more information about any organization and the ads it's currently running will mean increased accountability for bad actors, which will help to prevent abuse on Facebook,” they said when they announced the feature at the end of June. It was put in place primarily to combat election interference, but it will help you as a business owner or marketer, too.

From there, it’s just a matter of scrolling through and checking out the active ads to see what you can learn from them, like what works and what hasn’t. Here are some things to think about:

  • What type of content are they posting?
  • What type of content are they sharing?
  • How much interaction are they getting?
  • How do they respond to comments and criticisms?
  • How frequently are they running ads?
  • Are they running any kind of seasonal promotions?
  • What kind of tone are they using? Business or casual?

The tool is a great way you can validate your own efforts or find out new ways to market yourself in your community. It may even turn up a few surprises. What do you think? Will it be effective for you? Let us know in the comments!