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How to Beat the Competition by ‘Spying’ on Social Media

Social media has become a centerpiece for brands’ reputations. Customer service departments have had to shift their strategies, while HR departments have started to turn employees into brand advocates.

Just as PR and marketing departments use social media to find influencers, build relationships with journalists and engage with their audiences, they should also watch their competitors.

Social media posts are public, making it easy to track and listen to competitors and plan how you can push past them. If you pay close attention to your competitors’ channels, your brand will have a better chance at approaching prospects and convincing dissatisfied customers to switch to your services.

Follow this four-point plan to start “spying” on the competition:

1. Expand Your Lists

Geographic location is no longer the most important determining factor in identifying your competitors. Now, your brand must think on a global scale.

In the recently published “LiSTEN: 5 Social Audiences Brands Can’t Afford to Ignore” e-book, social media strategist Jeff Bullas emphasizes how you now have competitors “stealing your lunch from the other side of the world.”  

In addition to using Google, Jeff suggests using similarweb.com to discover other brands’ websites, sources of traffic and keywords.

Want more insights on social media listening? Get the free “LiSTEN” e-book today!

2. Scope Out Their Social Scene


Social media’s transparency is a major resource when it comes to spying on competitors. If your brand has the right social listening tools, you can easily set up a news feed based on your competitors’ keywords.

Measure their data as you would for your own social media accounts.  Are they getting twice as many Likes from their Facebook posts? How much engagement do they get from their tweets? Are they using ads to promote their posts on Facebook?

3. Compare and Contrast

Once you’ve accumulated enough data, take your numbers and compare them to your competitors’ to determine what needs work and what your brand already has under control.

For example, if you see a huge spike in engagement one month, look to see what topic they were talking about and how they pushed their audience to get involved in the conversation.

4. Experiment to Innovate

Take the data you’ve measured, look at what your brand wants to improve and use others’ success to inspire new ideas for your brand.

Jeff Bullas highlights how the real estate services company Movoto looked outside of their industry — at Upworthy — for ideas to revamp their content marketing strategy.

Experiment by implementing certain aspects of another’s campaign, but don’t copy-cat your competitor’s every step.



Images: steve p2008John Goode (Creative Commons)

About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

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