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Top 3 reasons you must follow your competitors on social media

3 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

This week, we asked: Do you follow your competitors on social media?

  • Yes, but we rarely check on them: 40.88%
  • No: 30.19%
  • Yes, and we study them extensively: 28.93%

Once you’ve entered the social Web, you’ve truly opened the kimono for the entire world to see, customers and competitors alike. As much as we’d like to sometimes wish we could go back and hide behind the corporate walls of an unanswered 800 number, those days are long gone.

The good news, though, is that there is much to be learned from monitoring your competitors’ social media activity. Here are the top three reasons to increase the amount of time you spend evaluating your competitors on the social Web.

  • Improve your content strategy. A few short weeks ago in our poll we learned that “improving your content strategy” ranked as the No. 1 thing you wished you could change about your social media initiative. Your competitors’ activity on the social offers a breeding ground of ideas, and with a little extra work, the resulting popularity of that content. Pay attention and find topics that resonate with your customers and build them into your content strategy.
  • Track sentiment. With social media being used for customer service, marketing, sales, crisis management and more, observing the social media streams of your competitors has the opportunity to provide a lot of insight into the sentiment of your competitors’ customers. Keep an eye out for complaints, praise, no-responses, etc. and join the conversation when appropriate and/or digest that information to improve your own products and services.
  • Be the news. In David Meerman Scott’s latest book, “Newsjacking,” he describes how the nature of the real-time Web offers companies a new opportunity. That is by paying attention, being alert and being ready to respond quickly, you can inject your message into the news cycle. While this isn’t anything new as it relates to sound PR practices, what is new is the real-time nature of this activity. Don’t be left behind as your competitors make the news. When something significant breaks in your industry, be prepared to participate in the conversation as it happens.

While there are many other reasons to follow your competitors, such as understanding frequency, learning whether they run promotions or gauging how actively engaged their community is, at a minimum, by focusing on the three above, you will keep pace with them on the social Web.

This poll analysis was written by SmartBlogs contributor Jeremy Victor. He is the president of business-to-business content-marketing agency Make Good Media and editor-in-chief of For more of his writing, visit B2Bbloggers and follow him on Twitter and Google+.