I know, I know – the last thing you want to do is add to your competitor’s follower count on Twitter, be one more view on their YouTube video, or admit that you stalk their Instagram. But here is a list of five things you can learn from your competitors’ social presences that make it worth it:

  1. The appropriate tone and voice for your industry. This first tip is especially key if you are just beginning to build your business’s social presence. Have you ever noticed how some brands Tweet like a playful human? I’m thinking of Pizza Hut and for this one. If you are also in the food industry, you can take a look at accounts like this one and see how people are responding to that type of voice. Do customers engage with it? Do they like it? Do they think it is appropriate? This can either give you the go-ahead to adopt a similar style on your social accounts, or tip you off that maybe staying more conservative is a good idea. Note: DO NOT plagiarize your competition. Being a copy cat is bad. Learning from others’ mistakes/successes is good. Social is a grey area that provides you with the opportunity to push boundaries and try new things – seeing others’ experimentation can help you brainstorm your own.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 1.48.04 PM.png
    Retrieved from Twitter.
  2. Industry #hashtags. One way to increase your views and followers is to use hashtags in your social posts. Look to your competitors to see what hashtags are trending in your industry and join in the conversation. Don’t just let them do all the talking!
  3. What platforms are relevant to your consumers. If all of your competitors have a YouTube channel, you might want to get one too. This may be a sign that your customers are looking to find their information there.
  4. Competitors’ branding strategies. Social media is a platform that provides brands with the opportunity to creatively express who they are. When entering or expanding your reach within a market, it is important to see who is already there. How are competitors positioning themselves to reach the people you want to talk to? Aka – what seat at the table is already taken?  Being aware of others can help you build a unique brand persona that will diversify you.
  5. What customers actually think of your competition. One example that immediately comes to mind for this one is Zappos. Just by taking a quick glance at Zappos’ Facebook page, you can tell that customer service is their priority and that people think highly of the brand because of it. The example below is just one of the many conversations that Zappos has with customers on their Facebook page. They take the time to show that their customers are a priority, and clearly, this is paying off! This would tip you off that if Zappos is your competition, you better fight hard to win over their customers because they ain’t going easy. The inverse of this example is that if your competition is doing a poor job, people will make it known on their Yelp, Twitter, etc. Complaints can tell you a lot about what your audience is expecting out of a product/service, and you can use that information to meet their needs in ways that the competition currently isn’t.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 11.08.32 PM
    Screen caption from Zappos.com’s Facebook.

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