How to Start Stalking Your Competitors
Unfortunately, this whole inbound marketing strategy thing is no longer a well-kept secret. As of Fall 2012, 87% of small businesses considered social media outreach a valuable business tool. Even more shocking, 77% of these companies said that more than a quarter of their outreach was taking place on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. The data makes it clear that just having a Twitter account is no longer enough. Your brand needs a solid inbound marketing strategy and some great analytics to maintain your dominance on these networks. You don't have to stop at analyzing your own social media ROI: you can keep an eye on your competition.
We should probably issue a disclaimer before we get started: you should be nice to your competitors. We're not advocating that you blatantly step all over their social media strategy. However, you can gain a real edge and some quantitative intelligence by keeping close tabs on what they're up to on Twitter. Buckle your seat belts, because we're about to share some information that could help you start crushing your competition more effectively than ever:
Myth: I Won't Gain Customers, So Why Bother?
You may ask why should I care about what my competitors are doing on Twitter, anyway? In a perfect world where small business owners had an abundance of time and money, you might consider keeping tabs to ensure your campaigns and content were better. Turns out, you might just be able to step in and score some new customers. While there's a very fine line between being a helpful expert and a total jerk, keeping an eye on mentions of your customers brand name might give you access to some really low hanging fruit: the ignored client. Search your competitors handle and see what comes up:
Are They Answering Their Customers' Questions? If customers are going days without answers to their basic questions, it might make you look really good to jump in and provide an answer. Again, this is an area where you should use your judgment. Spending your day answering their questions within seconds or trying to jump into customer service disputes is definitely not the right approach. But if their client has been waiting since last Tuesday for a recommendation on an inexpensive pinot noir, providing an answer might just look your brand look great!
What Are Their Customers Asking, Anyway? While there could be slight or significant differences between the demographics of your buyer personas, there's a strong chance that your customers have a lot of the same FAQ, pain points, objections and priorities. You could end up beefing up your own buyer personas by learning what's driving conversations and or even attracting more customers that fit a different persona model!
How is Their Customer Service, Anyway? While it's just not classy to blatantly bash your competitor, maybe your brand's customer service is light years ahead. You could discover some differentiators that really matter.
Myth: It's Time Consuming
With an average of 400 million published Tweets each day, it can be hard to pay attention to anything on the social media network. The solution for fast and enlightening social media monitoring is undoubtedly Twitter Lists. We're not saying you should set up a public list titled "My Company's Competition." Utilize private lists which are only visible to you to get started keeping tabs on your competitors without anyone knowing about it. It's easy to get started:
Select List From Your Options
Name and Optionally Describe Your List:
Make Sure You've Checked "Private" Instead of Public!
Step 3: Efficiently Monitor Your Competitors
Best of all, your competitors don't even need to know you're keeping close tabs! When you head to their profiles, just add them to the private list instead of hitting "follow." They'll be none the wiser.
Myth: It's Not Going to Be Helpful Data
We hope you've adopted blogging as a cheap, easy and effective way to connect with customers, generate leads and dominate the first page of Google. Unfortunately, there's a fair chance your competitors have latched on to this effective tactic, too. Keeping close tabs on your competitors content marketing efforts can give you insight into what could resonate - or do a total faceplant - on your own blog. Here's a few ideas of what to keep an eye on:
What is Being Interacted With? When you're monitoring your competitors mentions and replies, check to see what's being retweeted or commented on. While you ethically can't gain access to their traffic sources, you can gain a quick glimpse into the types of content that is gaining shares and exposure.
When Are They Generating Tweets? Are your competitors tweeting fabulous content 24/7 or do their feeds go dead at 5pm on a Friday like clockwork? Using a scheduling tool like HootSuite can give you a real edge, especially if you're vying for the attention of an international market.
Are They Sourcing or Creating? Are your competitors master curators or have they established the art of tweeting their evergreen blog posts from the past? Do their followers go crazy over trending news items or relevant blog content from other sources?
Are They Multi-Media? What kinds of content are your competitors tweeting, anyway? Do their links include infographics and video? If they're still just using text-based content marketing, you could have an easy in with the estimated 65% of the population who learn best from visual information.
How Do You Monitor Your Competitors on Social Media?
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