Do you follow your competitors on social media?
Do you follow your competition on social media? On certain SM platforms you can 'spy' behind the scenes without anyone noticing, but is it ok to actively friend, like, join, follow, etc., openly?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?
I think it's a great idea to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing - I also think that in most industries there are plenty of fish to go around and it's not a me or them situation.
Theres the saying "keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer" which I think is a great philosophy to live by in the business world and like Jenny said, your competitor may actually be your next business partner.
I know that Mathew Beeche, the founder of Shoestring media group lives by this concept. You can read the article explaining how he has weekly calls with his competitor so they can continue learning together and growing together - seems like an alien concept to most people, but innovation is never made without doing something different right?
Definitely! And I advise my clients to as well. And to actively join and follow them openly.
1. you can see what types of posts (on Facebook) gain the highest level of engagement.
2. you can see the types of people who follow them, and do some customer profiling
3. you may be their next business partner -- your competitor might be the next joint venture
A benefit of social media is to listen to the conversations. Not only what people are saying about your business, but also your industry and your competitors. To not follow your competitors will do your own business a disadvantage.
And Sandy, you are spot on with regards to clients concerns about negative feedback on social media and your response to them. Exceeding your clients expectations will lead to satisfied customers. But social media has the added advantage of loyal clients responding to comments left by others of a negative nature. The response is so much more powerful when it comes from a client versus the business owner! Ah the power of Raving Fans!
At the Online-Business Builder we totally encourage our clients to follow their competitors, much to their amazement. Mainly because they are worried about how to handle negative comments about their services or products that they may receive on social media.
As far as handling negative comments and feedback about your business, this can be counteracted by giving the best possible customer service and finding a solution to their negativity and of course the whole world will see how your customer comes first. Plus they will see your transparency as a means of trust and honesty, which is great for building new relationships online.
I believe by friending your competitors you are not only showing transparency to your current customers, it also gives you the opportunity to liaise with your competitors customers, which could eventually become your customers.
Agree with Wendy's comment "there are plenty of fish to go around"
Agree with Sam, it is imperative to keep your ear to the ground as to what is happening in your industry and the public forums of social media provide that medium. Social media enables us to embrace the conversations surrounding the common problems we are all trying to solve. We learn and we can grow as a result of shared knowledge. Businesses that try to 'hide' away in the shadows are not doing themselves any justice. They are quite simply missing out in my opinion.
As much as we all want to be unique and portray an edge of difference over our competitors, the forums that now exist have changed the level playing field for good. I say embrace and be glad for it! Viva el internet!! Viva Social Media! Viva progressive businesses practices!!
I too think it is a smart move to follow your competitors on Social Media and even work with them I know at ThoughtSpot we do that with a number of ours alliances are a good thing and at times your competitors can keep you motivated too!
With all of the competitor following going on, it's amazing that any of the so-called remaining "fans" would NOT be competitors?!? That's crazy.
In my mind it's important to understand your competitors, but don't let it get in the way of your real business. Don't make it an obsession, as it will take things away from actually getting things done in your business. It's kind of like watching the news... you can watch it, seemingly forever, or you can actually make the news.
I choose to make things happen and let my competitors follow me - not the other way around. Then you can continue to grow and elevate your business while they are distracted watching you make things happen.
I think you should not only follow your competition but also learn from things which are working for them. We at Exprestore, look at all the competitors product features all the time, we watch what they are promoting and what seems to be going viral.
I even go to twitter search and look them up, so as to gauge their engagements.
One question which usually all informed clients/customers will ask is what is difference between you and your competitor? You gotta follow them to know how are you better or different..