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It would never have occurred to me to use social media to conduct competitive research until I read a blog post on the topic that was published by Social Media Examiner.

Once I thought about it, though I realized this is a great way to see what is and what is not working for your competitors on social media.  No need to repeat someone else’s mistakes, right?

So, here is a quick rundown on what I learned about using social media to conduct competitive research:

Twitter

Find them: If you know who your competitors are, search for them on Twitter, or click on their Twitter button on their website.  If you don’t, use Twitter search directories like Twellow and WeFollow to find them.

Tweets: Look at the information they are tweeting, the conversations they are having, and how many followers they have.

Mentions: Take a look at their mentions to see what kind of feedback they’re getting from followers.

Popular content: Use Topsy to learn what content on a website gets the most retweets.

Facebook

Find them: If you know who your competitors are, search for them, click on their Facebook button on their website.  If you don’t, use the Browse All Pages directory on Facebook.

Wall: The information you care most about is how they are using their wall to interact with fans.  What are they posting?  Is it valuable information?  Do their fans comment on and like the posts?  Do their fans post to the wall?

LinkedIn Company Pages

Find them: Find your competitors by doing a search in the top right hand corner of your LinkedIn page.

Followers: Even if you don’t have any connections to the company, you can scroll through their followers and view limited information on who is following them.

Activities: View their recent blog posts and other activities on LinkedIn to see how they are gaining followers.

Other Social Media Sites

YouTube: Find competitors’ channels and see what kind of video marketing they’re doing and how well the videos are received.

Location-bases social networks: See if your competitors are on Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, and others.  If they are, make sure your company is check-in ready!

Local search: If you are a local business, see if your competitors have profiles and are getting reviews on Google Places, Yelp, or Merchant Circle.

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Have you conducted competitive research using social media?  Is there anything I missed?

Image via Flickr (creative commons) by olarte.ollie

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    • http://twitter.com/carlkwan Carl Kwan

      Nice article. I would add that social media can also help you uncover potential business partners. Some of your competitors can turn out to be valuable partners if you collaborate and cross-promote as joint-venture partners. If a competitor’s strength is reaching a segment of your market that you can’t and you are able to do the same for a segment they are weak in, that would be a great opportunity to work together. This can create greater value for customers and benefit the companies, too.

      Carl Kwan
      http://socialmediaconsultingexpert.com