by helen on May 6, 2011

This post was inspired by a question I was asked during a Twitter and Linkedin training session – should I follow my competitors on Twitter?

I can understand why some companies might be reluctant to appear in their competitors’ online community – especially if they are start-ups who aren’t ready to “show their hand”.

But I do think there’s more to be gained than lost by tracking competitors using social media.

Here’s why.

Social media offers companies a relatively easy and very cost-effective way to watch how their competitors are promoting themselves, and see how they are engaging with their customers.

Monitoring them on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin can help you find a way to stand out from the crowd – a great way to attract attention and win business. But, of course, you have to stand out for the right reasons. ;-)

So, how do you differentiate yourself from your competition? How do you determine your USP (unique selling point), which should be at the core of all your marketing activities? How do you work out “What Do Only You Do?” – thanks to @spirocks for his timely tweet!  

Well, for starters you need to know who are the competition. You need to understand how they are marketing themselves, and what their customers like about their products or services. You also need to work out how they aren’t marketing themselves, and what their customers don’t like about their products or services.

Once you have this information, you will be in a better position to identify your USP – one that will make it easy for your customers/prospects to see the benefits of buying from you rather than your competitors.

You can learn from your competitors’ social media activities – see what works, what doesn’t work, and what they are doing right or wrong. Don’t think of them as your competition – think of them as fellow students.

You may find there’s a lot you can learn from their mistakes and successes – and they might even learn from yours!

Are you following your competitors? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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