If you want to get ahead of your competition, you must learn to use social media effectively. One of the best strategies for doing this is social listening. This involves monitoring the social web for conversations relevant to your business, niche and related topics. Social media has millions of conversations on every possible subject.
By listening in on the right discussions, you can learn to anticipate what your customers need. This helps you outthink and outsell your competitors. Let’s look at the top five ways that social listening helps you stay ahead of your competition.
1. Monitor Your Competitors’ Social Media Content
Watching and listening to the content posted by your competition gives you valuable insights you can apply to your own campaigns. The nice thing about spying on the competition is that it saves you time. You can learn from their mistakes without making the same mistakes yourself. Likewise, you can benefit from their success. In a way, monitoring the competition is like having them perform testing for you.
When monitoring the competitions’ content, you’ll want to look at the same kind of metrics you look at for your own campaigns. Identify what kind of posts, images and links get the greatest amount of engagement. It’s helpful to know what gets shared the most and what topics generate the most conversations. Social monitoring identifies your competitors’ weaknesses as well as their strengths.
If you find, for example, that your main competitor is very strong on Facebook but hasn’t done much on Twitter, this may be an opportunity for you to dominate in this area.
2. Leverage Complaints Against Your Competitors
People do lots of complaining on social media sites. Twitter and Facebook are especially full of complaints against phone companies, internet service providers, airlines and every other kind of business. If people are complaining about your competition, you can leverage this to your advantage.
Monitor social media for keywords that express dissatisfaction regarding your competitors. You might, for example, search for hashtags about your competitors on Twitter. People are often very vocal when they’re mad about something and aren’t shy about naming the company and using a hashtag.
You can use your favorite social media listening tool to search for your competitor’s name matched with a negative keyword such as “poor service,” “not,” “doesn’t” or “ripoff.” You can then offer them an alternative. This takes a bit of research but it provides you with very promising leads -people who have recently had a bad experience with your competition.
3. Use Facebook Pages to Watch
Facebook, with well over a billion users, is one of the most vital social sites to monitor. Almost every business has a Facebook page. Monitoring the pages of your competitors helps you track how effectively they’re using Facebook. One way to do this is to use one of Facebook’s own features, Pages to Watch.
This free tool, which is part of Facebook Insights, lets you keep tabs on up to five of your competitors’ pages. This is a simple way to learn lots of useful facts about what your competitors are up to on the world’s biggest social site. The only qualification you need to use this feature is to have at least 100 likes on your own page.
The most obvious way to use this tool is to measure your own page results against that of your competitors in areas such as page likes and engagement. If you see that one of your competitors is more active than you, it gives you motivation to step it up. Beyond this, you can see which of your competitors’ posts are most successful, which you can use for inspiration when coming up with topics for your own page.
4. Identify Influencers Helping Your Competitors
Influencers, such as celebrities, athletes, best-selling authors, CEOs and others who are well-known in their fields play a huge role in engaging customers and followers on social media. Influencer marketing is now implemented by some of the largest brands in the world. It’s also a tactic that smaller businesses can use to build credibility. It’s worthwhile to monitor which influencers are following and engaging with your competitors.
You can use this information to build your own relationships with these social media power users. For example, when you find influencers who are following your competition on Twitter, you can then take steps to build your own relationships with them. It’s also useful to monitor which influencers are sharing your competitors’ content. They might also be receptive to sharing your content. In some cases, you might even be able to get influencers to switch over to your brand if they prefer your content.
5. Listen to What Customers Are Saying About Competitors
Many businesses set up alerts to find out what people are saying about them. It’s also important, however, to monitor social media conversations about your competition. Positive, negative and neutral discussions about a competitor and its products provide you with lots of useful information. If people love a certain feature offered by a competitor, you might consider offering something similar.
User-generated content about competitors also gives you clues about your audience’s interests and preferences. In addition to listening to conversations about your competitors’ products, it’s helpful to monitor reactions to content. This gives you clues about what kind of posts, images, videos, memes and other content to post and what to stay away from.
Social Listening Gives You an Edge
Monitoring the social web is a multi-layered process. You want to hear what people are saying about your own business, of course. However, if you want to get a sense of the larger picture in your industry, you should also be monitoring your competition on social media. This gives you valuable insights on what to do and not to do in your own campaigns. The above are some of the most effective ways to use social listening to stay a step ahead of the competition.