Using social media as a way to market your brand, products or services is something you should know about already but have you ever thought about using it to gather information on your competitors?
Before we go any further we are not talking here about industrial espionage and stealing secrets from your competitors. Instead, we are looking at social media as a legitimate means to see what other businesses in your niche, sector or industry are doing publicly and using that information to improve what you do in your business.
The first thing to realise is that the social media pages and profiles of most businesses are in the public domain anyway. This means anyone, including you, is able to see what they post, and read any of the updates, quotes and comments that they make. Most people seeing them will just take the post at face value, but for you, they can contain golden nuggets of information.
Your first step is to make a list of those companies and organisations that are either direct competitors to you or who operate within your niche, even if what they market or sell isn’t directly in opposition to you. You should then take the time to determine what steps you need to take to see what these companies and organisations are posting on the most popular social media sites. This could include setting up profiles and then following the company’s page or group.
For example, on Facebook, you may need to request to join their group page for updates, or on Twitter, it might simply be a case of finding a company’s profile and following it. Every social media site has its own way that you can follow someone, so do whatever it requires on each particular site.
Once you have followed a business or signed up for their updates, simply log in regularly and keep track of what they are doing. Most importantly, look at what they did when a post, tweet, comment etc. gets a big response. Look at the graphics they used, and the text or copy they wrote. Also make a note of the sorts of comments that they are getting from their followers and whether they are positive or negative.
By seeing what makes followers and subscribers react in a positive way, especially if they are sharing something in large numbers, it gives you a fantastic insight into the type of posts you should be making yourself, to hopefully get the same positive responses. Obviously, you never copy anything directly, but instead, use what is working for them as inspiration for your own social media marketing.
The other great benefit of following competitors on their social media pages is you may get updates on any products that they have in the pipeline. Often, companies will survey their followers as part of their market research and if you can see that followers are keen on one type of product versus another type, then you have gained some very valuable information, without having to conduct the market research yourself.