With a few simple tools, you can find out how your competitors' social marketing works.

With a few simple tools, you can find out how your competitors’ social marketing works.

It’s important to pay attention to your competitors, both their brick-and-mortar locations and their social media and web spaces.

Not only do you want to differentiate yourself from them, but you also want to learn what works for them—and what doesn’t. Knowing each will help you save money and be more successful in the long run.

Fortunately, there are several tools around that will help you—and they’re all fairly easy to use. Here are four internet tools that will help you get a handle on your competitor’s web presence—and how you can use them to your advantage.

Ahref’s Content Explorer
Ahref’s is primarily a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool, but you can learn some social metrics from them, too.

PayAttention1

You can try it out for free. Go to Ahref’s Content Explorer and type the name of your competitor in the search box. You can also type in general topics and refine in by location to find, say, auto repair shops on social media in the Detroit region.

The search results may take a few seconds, depending on how specific your search is and how hard the search engine has to work to get the answers you seek. You should get a spreadsheet that outlines your competitor’s content, along with some idea of who shared it and when. If you click on the down arrow at the end of each line, you can also find out how the content was shared and distributed.

Knowing what they use and how often they use it as well as how effective it was can be a handy way for you to set your own social media plans.

You can only try it once a day, however. Any additional attempts will prompt a subscription request.

BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo will give you a snapshot of who is sharing your competitor’s content, which is vital information in the social media world. Whoever is sharing your competitor’s content will most likely share yours, too—especially if it’s better.

Once you’re there, enter your competitor’s web site, then click ‘View sharers.’ Make sure you check their blog, if they have one, too. You’ll get a list that shows you who is sharing what, roughly organized according to the top ranked influencers. If they don’t know about you, make sure they do.

PayAttention2

Take a good look at their top shared content. What makes it so popular? Was it an extended service discount or some other kind of freebie? (The answer to that is ‘probably.’ Giveaways and contests always bring an increased engagement.) Then it’s a matter of producing similar content. If it’s something they shared from another source, there’s nothing stopping you from sharing it, too.

Twitter
Twitter is not just a microphone that can link thousands of customers back to your social media channels, it can be an investigative tool, too.

Go to https://twitter.com/search-home and type in a competitor‘s Twitter handle. Then click ‘Live’ to see the twitter users who are promoting, retweeting or otherwise sharing your competitors’ content. From there, you can also see the accounts that are associated with your competitors’ twitter name. Follow them if you think it’ll benefit your business. Soon they could be retweeting your promotions, too.

Topsy
Topsy works along with social media channels like twitter. With Topsy, you can find out how often your competitors are tweeting in a chart form is much easier than scrolling through their Twitter profile timelines. Often, Twitter velocity—or how often businesses and people tweet—is a good indication of their social acuity and popularity. When you click Tweets, and enter your competitor‘s Twitter handle, you’ll not only see how often they tweet, you’ll see who’s mentioning them in their own tweets.

All of this might seem like spying. I might seem a bit unethical. It’s not. It’s just simple market research in the digital age. It’s important to know what your competitors are up to and how successful their attempts to engage with the audience are. You can learn from them—what works, and what doesn’t.