Nearly 2 billion people out of the population in the world are using social media networks, which is almost 50% of internet users. With those numbers in mind it is no surprise that marketers are largely focusing on social media in their campaigns.
Social networks allow us to follow and research our competitor’s sales, customer service and marketing strategies. Insights we can collect on rival social media pages will also help us to improve our own social media presence and customer service. In this article we listed some of the ways you can follow your main competitors through social networks without them being aware of it.
Facebook Insights provides a great opportunity for page administrators to monitor rival pages. Option called ‘Pages to Watch’ allows them to add rival pages on the list and compare their performance in several important page criteria, including:
- Number of likes;
- Number of posts (only available for previous week);
- Engagement for all posts (reactions, comments and shares);
- Engagement rates;
- Top posts (posted one week prior to that moment);
Facebook Graph API
To monitor rival Facebook pages you can also use Facebook’s own Graph API that provides simplified competitor’s Facebook activity data. You can use this helpful service by adding rival page’s name or fan page ID number (number you can find at the end of page’s URL) to Graph API address and type it in address bar, like this:
You can also use RSS apps such as Google Reader for to follow your rivals on Facebook. Every Facebook page has a “Subscribe to RSS” link at the bottom, which means you can subscribe to all Facebook pages you like and follow them through your favorite RSS reader.
What to do with collected data?
Data from competitor’s Facebook pages can be very useful, especially when combined with other marketing tools. You can determine what freebies this company shares and introduce similar promotional offers. Facebook page is often the place that people use for reviewing and criticising businesses, and it provides plenty of insights on possible mistakes you should avoid, as well as the good practices you need to introduce to your marketing or sales models.
There is also one little bit sneakier way to use competitor’s data: you can advertise your business to competitor’s followers. Before opting for this step, you need to do extensive research and find their weak areas. This will help you to design a highly competitive offer. Then you create a commercial in Ads Manager or Power Editor and add rival page name in ‘Precise Interest’ field. This tactic can be very efficient, especially when your competitor has some kind of crisis which they are struggling to solve, for example a big recall in automotive industry or salmonella poisoning in restaurant business.
Private Twitter list
Twitter lists allow you to unofficially follow Twitter users you like. When creating these lists you shouldn’t focus on one account only, but rather add all accounts from all of your competitors to it, together with personal accounts of their major employees. This list will enable you to have a stream of information on your competitor’s Twitter tactics.
Creating a Twitter list is easy as it gets. You just need to follow these steps:
- Click on your profile image in the top bar;
- Choose ‘Lists’ option from the drop down menu;
- On the ‘Lists’ page find and click on ‘Create New List’ button;
- In the pop-up window type the list’s name and description, then choose between public and private list type. When following competitor’s it is always better to choose private type, so only you can follow the list you created;
- To add accounts to your list go to their profile pages, click on cogwheel icon and choose ‘Add or remove from list’ option;
Twitter stalking apps
There are various apps that allow you to stalk your competitors without them knowing it. Most of them provide you with well-structured data that’s ready for the analysis. These are some of the highly used apps marketers choose for this purpose:
- Hootsuite– most popular app for making elaborate social media strategies. When it comes to Twitter, Hootsuite allows users to analyse their competitor’s performance and strategies;
- Tweepi– this service enables you to analyse your competitor’s follower list;
- Twitter Counter– app that analyses rival account and provides many statistics concerning their post frequency, follower base etc.;
- Twitter Grader– provides you with the Twitter rating of your competitors;
What to do with collected data?
Competitors’ Twitter account data can be utilised in various ways. You can determine apps they use for posting Tweets, what can benefit your company’s Twitter strategy, and enable you to post more advanced real-time Tweets. This can be done by checking their Tweet’s timestamp.
Their followers’ analysis can give you great insight into your competitor’s marketing strategy that you can use in future customer targeting. Since Twitter (unlike Facebook) is a network where most users reply to following, you can try adding some of the followers of your rival’s customers. In order to do that you need to inspect their accounts separately and determine whether they match your ‘perfect customer’ criteria.
Following competitors on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks needs to have strict boundaries. Spamming your competitor’s followers and frequently commenting on competitors’ tweets and posts could have a disastrous effect on your online reputation. Nobody is fond of spammers, especially in the the world of business.