Did you ever think, if I just knew how ————– (filled in with the name of a leader in your niche) does it, I know I can succeed? I think we have all been there. We have been working our tails off and we seem to be getting nowhere fast. We discover that the leaders in our niche have been at it for years, but we cannot afford to put in that much time.
To see deep into the lives and the professional accounts of people on Facebook, you have to like their page and wait for them to like you back. Of course the fan pages are completely different, we can all get to them. How about LinkedIn? Same thing, we have to connect with them and we all know about trying to connect with someone on LinkedIn. Once you try answering “How do you know this person” question you have decided to quit! I discovered there are programs out there that allow you information, but to me the easiest to use is Twitter.
Twitter, (yes, Twitter) helps us to see what is and what is not working for our competition. Click to Tweet
It is like we can pull back the curtain, see what is happening and they never know we were there.
Twitter is a popular social network, but most of their data is totally public. Click to Tweet
This allows us to use this data to follow the competition’s ideas. Click to Tweet
If you are not using some type of management system, you want to hook up with one. Click to Tweet
This is the most effective way to help you manage the information you want to gather. Click to Tweet
I personally like to use Hootsuite, and yes, you can use it for free! Get my free paper”Hootsuite and why I love it and as a bonus: Twitter tips. There are other applications out there: Tweetdeck and Buffer. CoTweet and Seesmic have recently converted to HootSuite.
Follow Your Competition on Twitter
The easiest way to know what is working for your competitor is to watch what they are doing. Click to Tweet
You can create a private Twitter list and add your competitor to that list. Click to Tweet
If your competitor has more than one primary Twitter account, or has employees or partners with their business, add those people to your list of people as well. This is going to allow you to have a stream of incoming information telling you exactly how they handle their Twitter account.
To do this, go to your profile, click and you will then see lists.
Next create a list. You can make your list public or private. You want private.
Next you want to add people to that list.
You can search by key words, handle, or even just the name of that person.
To create a list on your private Twitter account, or you can do it in HootSuite by adding a new stream, selecting your Twitter account and Create a New List. Then add all of the relevant Twitter accounts. See the screen shot from HootSuite below:
Best Buy recently leveraged the ability to include @replies to celebrities when applicable with their latest deals. The reason behind this strategy is that if someone is looking for what is going on with say Lady Gaga, their tweet will show up when they do a search.
Analyze Their Followers
Want to get some insight into your competitor’s client list?
Services like Tweepi allow you to bring up the follow list of your competitors and sort it by the number of updates their followers have, their count, and so on to help you find out who some of their more active and influential fans are. Of course, there is a paid version that provides great information.
Do not use this information incorrectly though. Click to Tweet
You do not want to spam your competitors followers to get their attention Click to Tweet
The attention that you will get will all be negative. You want to use the tools to find out who the influential people are in your niche and build a relationship with them.
Monitor their @Replies
My reasoning is really not off on this one! It may seem crazy to just watch one side of a conversation.
However, setting up a search for your competitor’s @username is going to show you what people are saying to your competitor. Click to Tweet
This is going to allow you to see how/ what their fans (and enemies) are liking, not liking and what questions they might have. To create this search, put in the search bar on Twitter the @username of you competitor. Then use the “Save This Search” option.
I searched for Kim Garst. Her profile page came up and then I was able to click on her “Tweets and Replies”
To do this on Hootsuite, you can create a new stream or even create a more advanced search query. You can create a search for both the company name as well as the Twitter usernames. This will allow you to see mentions of either username. Notice in the screenshot below, in HootSuite, I searched for Kim, then I used the drop down arrow for filter by. Then I put in mentions and had results.
The reason for doing this could be a situation where maybe a person has asked a question and the competitor is not answering the question. Click to Tweet
Another potential situation would be if someone complains about a product or service. It might be that you can offer something better.
An extremely huge word of caution would be that if you are replying to someone with a blatant sales pitch, you could be labeled as a spammer. Offering helpful suggestions about how to choose the right product will be received much better.
See what they are doing on other Networks
Many people connect their Twitter account to other social media networks. Often some of their status updates from those other networks will trickle to their Twitter stream. Also, if there is a good Twitter background design, they will probably list on their primary social outlets as well. In my case, I have a link to website. All of my networks are on my website. Here is a screen shot on my profile page. I put an arrow showing where the web site was located. I am sorry, but my anti-virus shows me what is a Safe Site is, and it is making it difficult to see the site. (http://www.ChrisMcDonaldNC.com)
What is Their Toolkit?
One way to see what tools your competitor uses to manage their Twitter is to see where their Tweets are coming from. Click to Tweet
In HootSuite, or directly on their Twitter profile, you will see a time stamp for each of their updates and via the tool the update was sent with. By clicking on this, you can see what applications, services, etc. they use to update their account.
If you are monitoring your competitor’s @replies, you will even be able to see which updates by your competitors get the most response, and then follow the update to the tool that is was created by and try it out yourself.
Keep Up With Their Blog Posts and Articles
Blogging and other forms of content marketing are all great strategies for generating traffic and building relationships with your customers. Click To Tweet
This gives new visitors reason to visit your site and even better, allow your current customers to return for more Click to Tweet
If your competitor is getting a lot of attention based on their blogs and articles, then this is something you want to employ as well. Click to Tweet
If they are not using this strategy, it could be a way that you can gain an advantage over them Click to Tweet
Get their Score
Want to know more about your competitors’ overall Twitter Score? FollowerWonk allows you to enter the username of anyone on Twitter and get a rating on their Twitter presence.
This report will also show you the top most mentioned keywords used in the user’s tweets. You can compare your score to theirs, AND see suggestions in the report for what you could be doing better.
Another option is to sign up for Mokumax using my Twitter account and this report analyzes the interaction a Twitter user gets from their followers, re-tweets, follower to following ratio and other factors that determine the true reach of a users tweets
Do You Stalk Your Competition?
Have you ever followed and monitored your competition to see what it is that they are doing that you could be doing better?
What have you learned that benefited your own Twitter and social media strategy?
Please share your experiences in the comments.