A few weeks ago I saw first hand how a company can swoop in to win over the social media followers of its competitors. It all started when I discovered Puree Juice Bar, and decided to purchase some fresh juices as a first time customer. I was so excited, that I immediately went back to my office around the corner, lined up the 9 jars on my desk, and took a photo for Instagram (of course). I gave the company a shout out and captioned the photo, exclaiming that “I can’t wait to try them all!”
I received the typical likes from my friends, along with comments asking how I liked the juices and if I’d recommend them. But a day later, I also noticed something else. The Instagram account for another juice bar, Jrink Juicery, also liked my post about Puree, as well as a few other recent posts. What did I do next? Well they had my attention, so I checked out their Instagram page and clicked to their website. As a first time customer of Puree, I did not yet have a high sense of loyalty to the brand and was open to trying other juice shops. Had I tried Jrink, it would have been a direct result of them monitoring their competitors, noticing my interest in their product, and engaging with me.
If you provide a niche product or service, this is an approach that may work for your brand. Consider the following steps for identifying and engaging new potential clients that shop with your competitors:
Make a list of your competitors. Find the social media usernames of your competitors and put them in a private Twitter list and spreadsheet that will be easily accessible. Who are their followers? You can follow your competitor’s followers; however, be careful to check for relevance -that they’re in your location, are active users, etc.
Search your competitors username and company name. This doesn’t have to be a daily obsession, but perhaps once a week, use the search bar in Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking sites, to see what users are saying about your competitors and to your competitors. You may see a mix of positive and negative content, and you will have a better idea of which followers are active (and worth following). You can also engage with those who use your product or service, as well as followers who could be swayed to try your brand.
Engage ethically. NEVER EVER EVER speak negatively about your competitors with their followers, or anyone for that matter -it’s just not a good business practice. In my story, the competing company never said a word, they just liked my picture and a few others so that I would notice. When you ‘like’ tweets and photos, you bring more eyes to your social media pages. You can even take it a step further and answer questions posed to your competitors; but again, be informative, do not be sales-like, and do not bash your competitor. This type of engagement can be especially effective if your competitors are not proficient in social listening.
In any case, if you’ll be following and engaging new users, make sure your profiles are up to par. Your bio/about me section should be clear, your content should be consistent and valuable, and your website url should be available so that users can learn more about your brand (and hopefully make a purchase or opt-in to your mailing list). Also keep in mind that your competitors can monitor you as well, if they’re not already. So at the end of the day, the real key is to provide a quality product and incredible customer service in order to maintain consumer loyalty!
Would these steps help to expose your brand to new audiences? Do you think it’s ethical to pay attention to your competitors and their followers via social media? Tweet us your response!