By now you’re probably aware that current and potential customers are using social networking sites to talk about you and your brand, but have you considered the fact that they’re also talking about your competitors? Take advantage and conduct a competitive assessment by monitoring the chatter. Much of the conversation on the social web is out in the open. Why not use it to further your business? It has been said that information is power. All it takes is a little bit of effort on your part to grab the information. Listening is rather easy if you take the time to do so.
Here’s how to get started:
Make a list
If you haven’t done so already, make a list of your competitors. The obvious ones are the businesses who offer products or services similar to yours, but there are other less obvious competitors. Factor in physical proximity, traditional (non web based) marketing campaigns, and keep your customers perspective in mind. It’s also important to find out who ranks for the keywords you’d like to rank for on search engines.
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Use Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts to take note whenever a competitor is mentioned. It’s easy to setup and Google does all the work for you. You’ll find out what the media and customers are saying, be it positive or negative.
Start keeping tabs on your competitors social networking profiles. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a good place to start, but don’t forget about social review sites such as Yelp and Citysearch, geolocation services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, group buying services like Groupon and LivingSocial, and other niche social networking sites dependent on your particular business. Gist is a good resource to find your competitors various social networking accounts. It might also be a good idea to take the extra step and start following individual key employees who work for your competitors. It could provide a deeper perspective into how your competitors operate.
Once you’re following key competitors, start analyzing how they use social media.
- What is their Klout score? Is it higher or lower than yours? Why is this so?
- How much positive or negative sentiment do they have? Use a tool like Social Mention (a great free option) to find out.
- How often do they update Facebook? Do they appear to have a strategy in place?
- If they have a blog, what topics do they write about and why? What type of response are they receiving?
- How is their site optimized for social media sharing?
A competitive analysis through social media can do wonders for your business. Not only does it expose the strengths and weakness of your competitors, it also opens the door to new opportunities. By discovering what works for competitors and what doesn’t, your business can take advantage of open spots in the market.