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How to Monitor Your Local Competitors on Social Media

How to Monitor Your Local Competitors on Social Media

Are you looking for more ways to get your business found by your local customers? Would you like to discover more marketing opportunities in your area? Competitive monitoring is something that will help you achieve both tasks.

While you may be thinking ‘but I monitor my local competitors already’, I’m here to tell you: there is always more that you can do.

Monitoring your local competitors on social media, for example, could uncover lots of opportunities for your business. Mainly, it could allow you to:

  • Identify your competitors’ social media and community building tactics
  • Be the first to know when your competitor is offering a special offer or preparing for an event
  • Learn from them by discovering hashtags that trigger local visibility, marketing channels that seem to work best, influencers they work with, local nonprofits or businesses they promote, efforts that drive new backlinks and brand visibility for them, etc.

Competitive monitoring is useful on so many levels, making it highly surprising that so few local businesses actually use it to its full potential.

Who to monitor?

When it comes to local marketing, this question is more challenging to answer than in any other sector, simply because very few local businesses are actually active on social media.

But, by limiting your monitoring to only your obvious local competitors, you could end up with a very low amount of data to work with.

To expand your search and make the most of your efforts, consider monitoring:

  • Obvious local competitors that you are aware of
  • Similar businesses elsewhere (you may not compete with them locally but there may be a lot to learn from them)
  • Other local businesses in your area. This way you will be better informed on local events and trends.

To find local brands, search Twitter and Instagram using terms that describe your area—whether it’s something as obvious as your town name or a more advanced keyword, like your county or a nearby attraction.

To discover more terms to use when searching social media, run your main city or town name through Text Optimizer. This tool will uncover which local entities Google associates your city name with. Here’s an example of results for [Albany]:

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Next, search for all these locations on Twitter and Instagram to find updates from the local business:

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The “People” search on Twitter is even more useful because you can simply scroll through the list to find more businesses:

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Once you come across a relevant local business, find them across all the social media channels they promote on their websites.

What to monitor?

Based on your goals, you can prioritize certain data—but don’t limit yourself by only focusing on a single aspect of competitive monitoring. There is a lot you can uncover in the process:

  • Your competitors’ customers:
    • Happy customers: How do your competitors invite and utilize social proof? Do they use social media to facilitate Yelp or Google reviews? Are they interacting with happy customers to turn them into brand ambassadors? What are their most effective community building tactics?
    • Unhappy customers: How do your competitors react to negative reviews (if they react at all)? Are there glaring mistakes you need to avoid when dealing with unhappy clients? Or how can you avoid negative feedback itself?
  • Your competitors’ content marketing strategy: How are they utilizing social media in their on-site content promotion? Look at local content they are publishing to engage customers in your immediate area (or catch an eye of those who are traveling to your area) and the optimization tactics they are using (like Twitter cards or Facebook Open Graph) to generate social media traffic.
  • Your competitors’ promoters: Are there any (local) reporters, bloggers and/or social media influencers that engage with their brands and help promote them? Is there a chance you can win over to your side?
    • Try reaching out to those people and invite them to come over and/or collaborate. Hunter’s email finder and email verifier tools will help you locate their contact information and reach out. It is also a good idea to follow those people and engage with their updates from time to time.
    • Identify your competitors’ loyalty building tactics: Why did those people choose to promote your competitors? How can you find your own influencers?
    • Explore how your local competitors are utilizing social media for local PR and outreach.
  • Local events your competitors are utilizing in their marketing (and how well it works for them)
  • Your competitors’ sales funnel: What are they focusing on? Are they trying to generate direct sales (for example, by promoting an exclusive coupon) or are they building up their email marketing list instead? What are their primary social media calls-to-action?
  • The social media updates and campaigns your competitors run that seem to generate active engagements, like shares and comments. What’s their social media strategy?

How to Monitor Your Local Competitors on Social Media

Set up Social Listening Platforms

Awario is a great platform that supports boolean search, which allows you to combine lots of business names or social media handles into one search. All you need is to use the OR operator to include as many names as you’d like into one search:

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The platform also offers a few other great features, like prioritizing mentions based on sentiment and identifying influencers behind those mentions. You will also receive daily mention digests to quickly scroll through and identify if there’s anything that requires your attention. This makes monitoring both productive and effective.

Monitor Their Social Media Profiles and Bios

Take some time before taking this step. First, you need to identify who your most active and successful local competitors are so that you can focus on their social media accounts a bit more.

Visualping is a change-monitoring platform that can be used to track any page, including the social media profiles of your Twitter and Instagram competitors. It will email you an alert once a social media profile has changed.

Depending on how active your local competitors are, you can use the tool to:

  • Monitor their whole profile: This way you will be alerted once they add a new update. If your monitored brand is very active on social media, this process can get pretty cluttered very quickly.
  • Monitor their social media bios: This way you will only be alerted once they change their bio, link or profile picture. This is a great way to instantly know when your competitors are running a (seasonal) marketing campaign or are promoting a new landing page.

Visualping allows you to monitor the whole page or an area you select. In the example below, if you select this area, you will be notified when this business:

  • Changes a profile picture or header image
  • Updates their name or bio
  • Changes their link
  • Follows anyone or acquires a new follower

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You can adjust the frequency of updates based on how many you will receive.

Analyze Your Competitors’ Facebook Updates

If you are looking for some content inspiration, you can simply scroll through your competitors’ profiles and see what they are posting.

A more productive way to address that is to use Buzzsumo, which has a cool Facebook analysis tool that allows you to:

  • Compare several pages
  • Filter updates by type (image, link, giveaway, video, question, and coupon)
  • Sort updates to see the most liked, commented, shared, etc.
  • Access reports visualizing their activity: Frequency of posting, average engagement per month, etc.

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You can also save this search to easily access new data at your convenience.

Spy on Their Ads

When using Buzzsumo to analyze your competitors’ updates and their performance, refer to Facebook’s Ad Library to identify those seemingly effective updates that were actually ads.

For any selected brand you can search ads by a keyword, see the CTA they were using and the platforms that they ran ads on (Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network).

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Monitoring your competitors on social media will help you better understand your customers and uncover great marketing opportunities.

Keep playing with your monitoring settings until you set up an effective routine which will allow you to get useful insights without being distracted by too much clutter. Good luck!

Ann Smarty
About the author
Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas as well as the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann has been in internet marketing for more than 10 years, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Search Engine Journal, and is a current contributor to prominent search and social blogs including Small Biz Trends and Mashable.

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