How to use Twitter to Spy on the Competition

If your business has a Twitter account, you might want to consider using it to do a little digging into what the competition is up to. We’re not suggesting anything underhanded here – but just by browsing past tweets, looking at following lists and monitoring the conversation, you can learn a lot about your competitors. And you can do it all without Bond’s expensive gadgets.

Start with a Twitter management tool

If you’re going to get a handle on the competition on Twitter, you’ve got to be able to mange tweets effectively. We suggest using a tool like HootSuite or TweetDeck to ensure that you can monitor multiple search terms, lists and accounts easily.

Follow the competition

The first step is to watch what the competition is tweeting. You can easily do this by following them on Twitter, in order to get their tweets in your timeline directly. If you don’t want to follow them with your business account, you can always use your personal one. And if you think this might be too obvious, try creating a private Twitter list of your competitor’s stream – this will only be available to you.

You want to get a little creative when creating this list or following your competitors directly. Search their website for additional accounts they may have, such as customer support and marketing. You might also want to add the personal accounts of executives or employees if they are available.

Search for the competition

HootSuite and other Twitter management platforms allows you to monitor keywords easily. Try searching for hashtags and keywords that your competition might be using – their username, major products, or marketing slogans.

You can organize these hashtags and keywords into columns on HootSuite or TweetDeck, and keep and eye on what people are saying about your competition.

See what people are saying to/about the competition

In addition to searching for keywords related to your competitor, you can also monitor @mentions of their username. You can set this up in HootSuite or TweetDeck just as you would a regular hashtag or keyword search. By keeping tabs on their @mentions, you will be able to monitor what people are saying to or about your competitor.

This can give you great insight into the sentiment of people who deal with the competition – overly positive or negative tweets will stand out. You can also find out about customer service issues they may be having, marketing problems, or successful campaigns by following their @mentions.

Find out who the competition is following

Navigating over to your competition’s profile page on Twitter will allow you to dig a little deeper into the relationships they have on Twitter. You can view all of the users they’re following, to get a good indication of who they are associated with. This could provide you with information about their partners, possible clients, celebrity endorsements and more.

There are also Twitter apps out there that can show you which accounts are following a certain account back, so you can see which of these follows is a reciprocal relationship for even more insight.