Social media platforms are not only a great way to interact with your potential and current customers, but can give you a deep insight into your industry and market. Social media competition monitoring is a must for all businesses, and a basic setup can be realized without investing thousands of euros.
The following tips give you a quick overview of 7 features and tools you can use to monitor your competition on social media. These suggestions are aimed at SMBs and only use free tools even social media beginners can set up.
1. Rank competitors’ Facebook pages in your insights
As manager of a Facebook page with more than 100 likes, you can add several pages to watch directly from the insights. This feature enables you to follow your competitors’ pages on Facebook and rank them based on page likes, as well as show the number of posts and engagement per week. You can even see the pages top posts per week: just click on the name of the page!
While the “pages to watch” feature will not be an adequate substitute of a professional competition monitoring tool, it can give a good first impression of your performance on Facebook compared to your competitors. The “top posts” feature will give you a snapshot of what works on other pages and help you adapt your social media strategy.
2. See your competitors’ Facebook posts in custom timelines
A useful, but commonly unknown feature of Facebook are the interest lists. In these lists you can sort pages (and friends) in different categories and follow their posts. As such you can create a “competitors” list and add their pages, without having to like the pages and clutter your personal timeline.
An interest list with your competitors will help you review the current trends of the industry and keep up-to-date with the issues promoted by your competition.
3. Follow your competitors in private Twitter lists
Twitter lists let you keep an eye on public Twitter accounts without the need to follow the profiles, including the option to create hidden lists. Adding an account to a list will in principle notify the user that he has been added to this list – however by choosing to create a private list you can circumvent this notification.
Like Facebook interest lists, private Twitter lists will allow you to follow your competitors’ Tweets as well as keep an eye on current issues in the market.
4. Find your competition with custom Twitter hashtag & keyword searches
If you don’t want to miss a competitor on Twitter but don’t want to do regular searches, you can save a custom hashtag and keywords search. This search will list the tweets about certain keywords or hashtags, based on language or geographical criteria that you can define in your search. You can f.ex. filter out all public Tweets including the keyword “startups” within a radius of 50km of Luxembourg by entering the following search:
startup near:"Luxembourg" within:50km
Note that the advanced search page defaults to searching within a radius of 15km – but you can manually edit the search query afterwards!
The advanced search feature is not only useful to monitor your competition, but can also be a powerful tool to engage with potential customers and influencers who you don’t follow yet.
5. Browse LinkedIn as an anonymous user
LinkedIn is the social network where you will not only find the company profiles of your competitors, but also their management. If you are on LinkedIn, you know that by default, once you view a profile of another user, that user gets a notification that you watched her profile. While this can be a useful feature to create a first contact with another LinkedIn user, you might not want your competitors to get a notification every time you check their profile.
You can turn off this feature and browse LinkedIn anonymously by editing your privacy settings:
Using LinkedIn anonymously is useful if you regularly want to check a competitors’ profile, f.ex. to see their new Long-Form posts or any public status updates.
6. Get keyword alerts with Talkwalker or Google alerts
Instead of searching manually for any mentions of your company, your competition or any other specific keywords, you can create custom alerts with Talkwalker or Google. Both tools will e-mail you once your keyword has been mentioned online in a news-article, blogpost or selected social media platforms.
Setting a custom alert will allow you to monitor your brand and products, as well as those of your competition.
7. Go deeper with professional monitoring tools (but don’t lose yourself in stats)
There are hundreds of monitoring tools out there for different types of businesses, needs and users. Competition monitoring can be a costly endeavour, especially if you need special consulting to set up the tools. However SimplyMeasured has a few interesting, free tools that will get you started if the above-mentioned solutions are too basic for your needs. Try them out if you want more than the basics!
One word of warning: while every serious business should incorporate proper competition monitoring in their social media strategy, you should make sure not to lose yourself in vanity metrics. Facebook likes, Youtube views or Twitter followers can indicate a good digital marketing strategy, but can also prove irrelevant at close inspection. When comparing your performance to that of your competition, pick key performance indicators that matter and put the results into perspective!
Author: Jerry Weyer, Partner at Clement & Weyer Digital Communication Consultants