14 Ways to Track Your Competition
9. Browse social media. Like your competitors and follow their key personnel. Check social media for the problems and negative comments other companies have experienced and then learn from their mistakes.
o Facebook, Pinterest and Flickr photos can reveal numbers of employees, computers and other technology in use, future plans and culture.
o LinkedIn tells you who your competitors interact with (change your settings to anonymous if you want to be stealthy). To do this, take a look at full profiles and go to the “Activity” sections of the pages to see connections. Use search to determine who is hiring and recent hires. Former employees are listed on the Company statistics pages.
10. Get on competitor mailing lists. What better way to know what products or positioning the competition is pushing than to have them tell you? You can also gauge how effective their email or direct mail marketing is.
11. Ask your staff. Anyone who directly interfaces with customers probably has a perspective on the competition and should be tapped for insight. You can even offer small incentives like free lunches or movie tickets for the best information received each month.
12. Subscribe to industry magazines, newsletters and websites. You will know if the competition gets any coverage. A bonus is that you’ll learn which reporters and editors cover your space and can start building relationships by providing relevant information and perhaps becoming a trusted source that is quoted frequently.
13. Watch the stock value. If competitors are publicly-traded companies, you can set up your computer or smartphone to automatically notify you of changes.
14. Tap online reputation management services or software. I wrote about reputation management in last week’s blog post and referred you to services such as: Reviewtrackers.com, Netvibes, Reputation.com and Trackur.com.