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What are Your Competition doing on Social Media?

What are Your Competition doing on Social Media?

One of the great things about social media is that it provides a window you can look through to see what a business is really all about.
A business’s Facebook or Twitter stream is often very revealing, both in what they do and what they don’t show!

And make no mistake about it, those companies that use social media well over the next 5 years are far more likely to survive than those that don’t!

There are several ways to measure yourself against your competition, but the most important thing to remember while doing this is that you are not them, your goals, dreams and passions may well be different from theirs, and, at the end of the day these are what’s important.

With that in mind it is good to see what others are doing, first make a list of your competitors split into two sections – those that you admire and respect, and those that you don’t. Do keep an open mind at this point though, you may find this exercise causes you to revise your opinion in some cases!

Then look and see if they are active on social media sites, to do this I recommend starting with their websites to see if they are promoting their social media activities, however don’t be fooled if a website doesn’t have a ‘find us on Facebook’ button, it may be simply that they haven’t integrated their social media activity with other parts of their marketing yet. At this point it is a good idea to start a spreadsheet so you can really see what’s going on.

Now note which social media sites they are active on, and whether their activity seems to be successful. Numbers are one indicator of success, but this is social media so the other factor that can’t be ignored is engagement.

Their Facebook page shows this quite clearly for all to see, when you look at a page it tells you how many people have ‘liked’ it and how many people are ‘talking about this’. As discussed here not all those that like a page will be vocal about it, so a page with over 5% engagement is doing something right!

For Twitter it is much harder to see but there is a tool I use when I am auditing for my clients (I always check their competition too!) to help you with this.

Twtrland allows you to enter any twitter ID to see what they are doing and achieving on there. It is designed for people considering whether or not an account is worth following. I use it to audit myself regularly to make sure I am achieving my own goals on twitter. You can see my April audit below and i’m sure you can see that used in the context of checking out your competitors it is very enlightening.

As you can see it tells you how often an account is tweeting, what proportion of their tweets are @replies or mentions, how many have links in etc. But it goes beyond that and also tells you how frequently they retweet others or get retweeted themselves! It also looks at their ‘most famous’ tweets. These are the tweets that have been re-tweeted the most, very useful information!

While Twitter and Facebook are still the cornerstones of social media don’t forget there are many other places to look too, do your competitors use YouTube? If so how many subscribers and video views do they have? Which videos have had the most views?

And are they on LinkedIn? How many connections do they have there? What about their blog? Do people comment regularly? Are they ranked higher than you for your chosen keywords? And don’t forget FourSquare, YouTube, Pinterest and niche social media sites too.

Now, use this information as inspiration!
If your competitors have more twitter followers than you, use it to give yourself that kick to work harder! If they are failing on facebook compared to you, look at what you are doing that they are not, and do more of it!

There’s no need for the competition to get dirty however, that will just lose you followers! And certainly don’t think about stealing customers from your competition, I do not recommend that at all! Apart from the fact it will turn you into a nasty person, it is also very expensive and time consuming trying to lure a loyal customer of someone else’s court and into yours.

Besides that, although they may be ‘the competition’ they could become collaborators or even refer business to you in the future!

Remembering your own goals is key in all this, and competing fairly. Your competition may have 10,000 followers on twitter but there are more than 10,000 other people on twitter that may want to follow you too, so get out there and be social before you miss the boat entirely!

Over to you, have you ever looked at a competitors Facebook page or twitter account? What did you learn from the experience?

What your social media strategy should be, How to get more followers/likes, How to create engagement, How to measure your social media results.

28 Comments

  1. Tom Treanor

    Gemma,

    Great post and great suggestions. I like the Twitter research tool as well. I have researched my competitors and I learned quite a lot from them. I’ve seen what works well, how they market and what content they produce.

    I’ve also seen other competitors “borrow” ideas from me. It’s all good if they get inspired but don’t just steal! I agree – social media makes it so easy to do competitive research and to get researched. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Gemma Thompson

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your comment, I wish people wouldn’t steal too, quite frankly it does them no good at all anyway!
      One of the things I like about researching my competition is it forces me to ‘raise my game’ … and sometimes helps me realise that I’m already pretty damn good at what I do too! I do get inspired a lot by fellow bloggers, often from their comments on my blog or vice versa! So once again Thanks Tom – and keep on inspiring me ;)

  2. Jackie

    Hi Gemma

    Thanks for the heads up on the twtrland tool, looks like it could be a good resource.
    I have to say though I’m less focussed on the competitors than I am on the customer.

    I wish that twitter would provide you more demographic assessment on followers like facebook insights does. Although having said that, I wonder if the data would be as accurate with twitter given that anyone can follow you, as opposed to facebook’s friends approach?

    1. Gemma Thompson

      Hi Jackie,]Thanks for your comment – and you are quite right to be more focussed on the customer! It’s a little harder to get it across in a blog post than it is during time with a client but THE most important thing is the objectives that they have for social media. Checking the competition is a useful sidebar to that but it is only a sidebar!
      I know what you mean about the lack of demographics on twitter, I also use tweriod to regularly check when people are most active there but it doesn’t tell me any more than that. I’ve also used http://www.twocation.com/ to get a geographic breakdown It’s good as far as it goes but I wish it went a lot deeper.Hootsuite analytics help a little, particularly with seeing which of your tweets strike a chord :) Hope those help a little at least!

    1. Gemma Thompson

      :D Absolutely! Click on any of those good old share buttons below or share it straight from my fb page Bev … I’m very happy for any of my stuff to be shared!

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  4. Jeanne Pi

    Although I’m not an avid user of Twitter, I have been collecting Twitter tools to help me get more insights into other users.

    Here are a couple you might want to check out:

    Followerwonk.com – Allows you to search Twitter bios and compare/analyze/track users.

    Mentionmapp.com – Mindmap of communities formed around brands and topics. A great visualization tool.

  5. Eric T. Wagner

    Hi Gemma…

    My favorite part of your great post is this: “you are not them”

    I think sometimes entrepreneurs try too hard to “beat the competition” and they actually lose track of the real goal — taking care of their customer.

    So, good way to start the post.

    Oh, and love this link you provided on tracking Twitter (twtrland). Thanks for that tip! :-) Eric

  6. Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca

    Verrrry interesting stuff, Gemma.

    You linked a cool tool, as did Jeanne in the comments.

    I’m known for my … um… ‘different’ views, so in keeping with that, here we go:

    I generally prefer to focus on comparing my ‘new self’ to my ‘old self’ – and the only time I’m looking at the ‘competition’ is a) in service to bettering myself and b) when I want to contribute some value there :D

    So, really, I very rarely look at competition, maybe it’s “hurting” me, maybe “helping”, but as long as I feel good about…

    1. Gemma Thompson

      Glad you liked Twtrland Jason! I also use it (and recommend it to my clients) to make sure they keep a check on how they’re progressing. And make sure they keep a balance in their tweets and don’t just end up broadcasting :)
      Thanks so much for commenting that was a really valuable insight.

  7. Sarah

    I am kind of with Jason on this as there’s not necessarily any “competition” for my site in the strictest sense of the word, but you definitely catch this point at the end when you say that staying focused on your own goals is what matters the most. :-) I definitely like the tool you mentioned as well!

    1. Gemma Thompson

      Yes I prefer to be inspired by others in my niche, have to admit I’m not keen on words and phrases like ‘dominate the web’ or ‘kill your competition’ either – in fact I stopped using ‘target client’ and swapped it for ‘preferred audience’ because the former sounded too violent! Guess I’m still a hippy chick at heart!

  8. Alan Smith

    Good post. Love the twitter tool you mentioned!

    I tell my clients that it is important to use the social network that best connects with their audience. Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, or LinkedIn can only benefit you if your ideal customer hangs out regularly on those networks. Find them and then lead them. . . go where your audience is!

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