It goes without saying that it’s important to stay ahead of the competition, especially for small business owners faced with the pressure of making every sale count.
However, rather than simply defining who your key competitors are, use social media to listen in on your rivals’ online conversations.
Social media listening is big business, especially given statistics that have revealed 80% of US social network users prefer to connect to brands through Facebook (State of Inbound Marketing) and social media usage in the US has increased by 356% in six years (HubSpot).
Thanks to the very public nature of social media, online conversations can be found far and wide by analysing profiles on platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The key is to know what to look for and how to tune in and use it to your advantage.
Other ways of ‘listening’ can provide even greater valuable insight. Here are just two simple tricks you can use to get started:
1. Groups - examine your competitors’ profiles on social media sites and track down the groups they belong to. By joining these groups you will be able to monitor your competitors’ conversations within these forums.
2. Followers, friends and connections – look at your competitors’ Twitter and Facebook profiles, see who they are following/connected to and who is following/connected to them. Follow/connect to these people too to find out the type of content and discussion being shared.
By looking at a competitor’s Twitter account you can quickly gauge the strategy they are using. By viewing their latest tweets, you can see if their strategy includes promoting lots of discounts, direct replies to their followers or sharing articles and content. You can easily judge the success of their tactics by looking at their follower count.
With Facebook, you can find out if your rivals are using their accounts as a lead generation tool by conducting activity, such as gathering email addresses or feeding other social media accounts or blog posts through their page. The main strategy you want to check out is how they are using their account to interact. Do they communicate their latest offers, videos, blog posts, news or other items? This is extremely valuable as it not only provides you with a window on their activity, but how they are fairing with their customers.
The real value on LinkedIn comes from monitoring discussions in groups. Groups are an excellent way to build relationships with prospective customers. And people often have business-related discussions that would otherwise happen one-to-one. For example, you can see how competitors are answering specific questions. You can also see who your competitors’ employees are connected to, and gather information about prospective customers by analysing their networks.