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Published October 16th 2018

Four Signs Your Competitors Are Using Social Listening Better Than You

Guest blogger Pius Boachie on how to keep your customers close but your competitors closer

It’s more important than ever to stay ahead of the competition and, luckily, technology allows us to keep an eye on them more closely than ever before.

By monitoring the successes and failures of your competitors, there’s plenty you can learn and bring in to your own marketing strategies.

From the way they deal with crises and negativity to the quality of their content, here are four signs that they’re using social listening better than you are.

1. They deal with negativity quickly and authentically

People do lots of complaining on social media platforms.

Keeping an eye on how your competitors deal with negative mentions of their brand or products can help inform your own processes for when people make complaints. If they are able to deal with serious issues before they escalate, they are probably using effective social listening to ensure they’re informed quickly and dealing with any problems in a way that satisfies the person complaining.

Meanwhile, if they’re not handling negativity well you can take those lessons and apply them to your own customer relationships. A good example here is to look at the incident in which a man was dragged from a United Airlines plane – the company’s slow and ill-received responses to the incident went down awfully on social media, effectively making it a public relations horror story. Other airlines would do well to learn from the mistakes made here, ensuring that alerts are set up to let the relevant teams know when negative stories are brewing on social.

Aside from monitoring competitors’ behavior, looking at negativity around those brands can help provide you with very promising leads – people who have recently had a bad experience with your competition. Make sure you respond to any customers who’ve had a bad experience with your brand before your competitors swoop in.

2. Their content gets more engagement

Monitoring content posted by your competition can give you valuable insights that can apply to your own campaigns. You can also make use of tools like BuzzSumo to find out how your content compares to your competitors’ in terms of social engagements.

Identifying what kind of posts, images, and links get the highest amount of engagement and what generates the most conversation can reveal your competitors’ weaknesses as well as their strengths. In a way, monitoring the competition is like using them as lab rats. Let them do the trials for you so you know what and what not could work well for you.

3. They find and work with better influencers

Influencer marketing is implemented by companies big and small.

It’s important to know that social media power users like big celebs aren’t always the best way to go. In fact, micro influencers can be both more affordable and have more authentic connections with the audience you’d like to target.

Using social listening to find great influencers who are specifically relevant to a niche audience is totally worth the time spent researching – and with some tools it won’t take you long at all.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your competitors are consistently engaging with high quality micro-influencers. They likely aren’t finding these personalities in static data bases that often return the ‘usual suspects.’

Remember, the quality of an influencer should relate to their connections with a particular audience, not just their follower count.

4. They speak to customers in their own language

In recent years the distance between consumers and brands has been shortened significantly by social media.

Brands that want to truly connect with their target audience should listen carefully to the exact words and phrases customers are using around their products or industry to help inform their own content. Meanwhile, it’s important to look a what your audience are talking about when they’re not talking about your brand or industry – this can help make reactive marketing around relevant trends much more efficient.

If you’re noticing your competitors are forming close bonds with their customers, using human language and references that chime well with them, you can bet that they’re doing this intentionally. Beyond language and trends, addressing specific customer wants and needs through your social channels, informed by what those customers or prospective customers are saying, is another way to engage with them meaningfully.


Monitoring the social web is a multi-layered process. You want to hear what people are saying about your own business, of course. However, if you want to get a sense of the larger picture in your industry, you should also be monitoring your competition on social media. This gives you valuable insights on what to do and what not to do with your own campaigns.

The above are some of the most effective ways to use social listening to stay a step ahead of the competition, and to recognize when the competition is doing better than you.

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