Social media tools to track the competition

Let’s face it. Sometimes you want to know what your competition is up to.

If you’re in businesses, chances are you’re not the only one in your field, and to keep growing and gaining customers, you might want to keep an eye on what your competition is doing. What new services are they offering? Have they hired anyone recently? What sort of promotions are they offering? Can you in fact work with a competitor on a joint project? All this and more might be of interest to you.

Watching your competition isn’t creepy and it isn’t stalking. It’s good business sense to know who else operates in your field, and indeed how your field may be evolving.

It’s another one of the many things that social media can help you with.

It’s easy to hop onto your competitor’s website or Facebook Page and read their content and see what level of interaction they’re getting (likes, comments). Here are a few more things you might be interested in doing:

Twitter Lists

Search competitor or just industry accounts on Twitter and add them to a Twitter List. You can name the List ‘Competitors’ or whatever your industry sector is. Make that list private. You can add someone to a Twitter List without following them.  That way, your List quickly takes you to their tweets, you haven’t alerted them to the fact that you’re interested, and you haven’t given them the value of another follower.

Twitter Lists
To add someone to a Twitter List, go to their profile and hover over portrait thumbnail, as illustrated.

Hyperalerts

Hyperalerts is a service that emails you summaries of the activity on a Facebook Page without being administrator of that Page.  It’s free and can be quite handy. Input the name of the Facebook Page and choose how often you’d like updates to be emailed to you.

Twittercounter

Want to compare your Twitter account growth to a competitor’s? Twittercounter lets you do this quickly and easily. You input the tweet names and Twittercounter does the number-crunching, spitting out a graph.

Klout, Kred, PeerIndex 

Search for your competitors on these tools which purport to measure ‘influence’. These measurements aren’t flawless and have been criticised for their methodology, but in the absence of other ‘influence measurers’ they are working hard to help benchmark people according to their digital footprints. Visit these sites and input competitors names – usually individuals rather than company names.

Socialmention

This search engine looks across social portals; you can use it to search competitors’ names or brands. Alongside the results, Socialmention attempts to provide data on reach and sentiment etc.  It also lists top users of that term – this can identify who works for your competitor, but also its broader community of supporters and partners, whom you might want to nurture yourself.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck

If you use a social media dashboard like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, you might want to set up a column (or stream) for your competitors’ tweets only. One for the super-vigilant.

What other tools could you use to keep up with the competition?

9 thoughts on “Social media tools to track the competition

  1. Socialmention makes me wonder why my last employer was paying for essentially the same thing which was slow and clunky. Great tool.

  2. I’ve always been a Google Alerts fan…..and have been in that comfort zone for a while. Keen now to check out Hyperalerts in particular. Thanks!

    1. Good one, Rach – we shouldn’t forget about Google Alerts! Provided you have some good search terms in there, they’re a handy free tool.

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