How to Use Twitter to Spy on Your Competition

by DavidMurton · 21 comments

This is a guest post by David Murton. In this post, you are going to learn how to use the power of twitter to spy on people so that you can copy his/her secret techniques to increase your internet business revenue. Hope you will get the brains like Sherlock Holmes after going through this post.

  • Mini-camera inside a pen? Check.
  • Lock-picking tools? Check.
  • The old hidden compartment inside the sole of the shoe trick? Check.
  • Twitter account? Che… Huh? Twitter account?

Yeah, that’s right – A Twitter account. The easiest, cheapest and most effective way to spy on those guys with the temerity to compete against you in the big, bad world of business. It’s also the most comfortable. As long as your favorite café has impeccable wireless access, then just kick back in the corner with that latte and muffin and let those clowns give away their circus’ secrets to you.

The key is in knowing how to use your competition’s tweets to infer what must be going on behind the scenes. Also, make sure that you are using a Twitter management client such as HootSuite or Tweetlater. This will be an essential tool in helping you manage of spigot of data your competition is unwittingly spewing your way. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

Follow the Current Leader

First, you want to follow your competition on Twitter, but not in a way that they know you’re there.

Create a private Twitter list that only you can see, adding your competitor’s tweets to your list. Also, make sure to check out the competitor’s website and get the names of their employees, adding their tweets as well. This will create a torrent of information, so make sure to create a separate stream for this data, giving it a cool name like ‘Operation Ubervoyeur’ or ‘Hidden Omniscience’ or something equally whimsical.

Get to Know Your New Tweeters

Once your spy stream is set up, you’ll want to make sure that you’re receiving the public’s comments about your competition as well.

This can be done by searching for your competitor’s @username. By trolling the public’s tweets about those guys who are trying to do the voodoo you do so well, you’ll be better able to copy what your competition is getting right and take advantage of where they are falling short. And, speaking of falling short, when you find someone making negative comments about your competition, don’t jump the gun and hit that unhappy customer with the hard sell; you’ll come off as a spammer, and everyone hates spammers, even their own mothers.

Instead, offer helpful suggestions. At most, give them your company’s website and invite them to contact you should they have any questions. Further, make sure to merge the power of Tweepi as well. This tool enables you to track your competition’s followers and figure who is the most influential as measured by their own following count.

These “top dog” customers can then be respectfully approached with special offers to check out your goods or services, essentially cherry picking your leading customers as it were. Also, by monitoring your competitor’s @replies, you can keep track of how your competitor’s replies are resonating with customers, establishing a benchmark for your own business to meet and exceed.

Creating Better Original Content…With Help

If Twitter is analogous to data rivers, then other social networks like YouTube and Facebook are analogous to data lakes or reservoirs.

Use your competitors’ Twitter feeds to go “upstream” and find their blog posts, articles and Facebook pages. Blog posts especially are important to keep track of. They are an ideal form of content marketing that both attract new customers and keep old ones coming back. By keeping track of your competitors’ blogs, you’ll not only be kept informed of your competitors’ products and plans, but you’ll set up a baseline for what you need to do to make your blog better and your products more appealing. The goal you are shooting for is to create a blog that generates a lot of retweets in your @replies.

Using Your Followers as Marketers

Assuming your blogs are well-crafted pieces of content marketing, this is the ideal situation as your own customers also become part of your marketing force, one that works for free.

In addition, make sure to use TwitterGrader to get your competitors’ Twitter score, thus providing you with their number of followers and updates. You can also keep track of keywords that are most relevant to your product or service. There are even suggestions on what you could be doing to improve your own rating.

The key, again, is to use social media to your advantage: keeping abreast of the competition, identifying and politely soliciting top customers, and creating your own following to market your products and services. To get started on your Twitter “spying” strategies, check out this site and follow the set up steps.

Fool Me Once…

Finally, as Twitter “spying” becomes more prevalent, and, no doubt, it will, then it will come to more and more resemble the hall-of-mirrors world of real spying, complete with disinformation – disinfotweets – that your competitors might point towards you, purposefully false information to lead you to incorrect conclusions about your competition’s intentions. Don’t give in to the temptation of dirty tricks; it’s tawdry and highly likely to boomerang.

Stick to the highroad, focus on providing a great product or service, and, by all means, use Twitter to your advantage.

Spy Training Complete

Now that you know some of the key tips to knock out the competition, it’s time to put them into practice.

Start off slow and keep your eyes peeled for what your fellow competitors are doing. Set the bar high and become the best by interweaving various marketing tactics and using the Internet to the best of your ability.

In the meantime, are there some other spy marketing tactics you’ve used or come across? Take time to study your competition, but be quick to attack with bigger and better projects and blogs. The better you become, the better chances you’ll have of being on top. Your comments are welcomed on this post. I am sure that you know where the comment form is… ↓

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About DavidMurton

David Murton has been helping companies build and maintain their online relationships with customers since 2006. He is also a professional writer and blogger, with a particular interest in the open source Drupal platform. On a more personal note, David is an avid piano and accordion player, drawn especially to music of the classical and romantic periods.

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Rajesh@Bypass Sharecash May 17, 2011 at 8:29 am

Nice guide friend. I am really lacking in Twitter and this will be helpful for me. Btw, I had written a guide to surpass bloggers on my blog. I will linkback to this one. Yeah, I’ve got one more point to add to the article.


phil May 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Superb idea – now I just need to find a couple of hours a day to do it!

Gunio May 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

Well this is something new for me. Using twitter to spy on our competitors. I will definitely use this technique to have an eye on my competitors. Thanks

Jeff May 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm

This now makes me really think about the use of twitter. We haven’t even thought of anything like this, we only used to inform our users. Thanks.

Felicia @ No Deposit Poker May 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hi David,
Quite a very interesting post you have made, with this kind of topic you’re writing. But I think spying isn’t the word here. It’s more like monitoring or “intently following” your competition on Twitter. All that aside, I still think this post has got me intrigued! Thanks!

Fraser Hannah May 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Great post! I had never thought of using Twitter this way, we do check out the competition but have never thought of creating a private list. Guess thats my afternoon taken care of then.

Johanna @ May 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm

It’s really amazing how many things you can do with Twitter! I guess if someone does not like to get their ideas taken from others, then they must try their best not to share it with Twitter, only after they have published it on their blog or they have already been working on it. If they are just sharing every idea they have that has not been put into action yet, then there are great chances that their ideas will be stolen by their competition.

Jerrick June 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

i believe with twitter, spy glass and google alert. It enough to spy competitors every movement and interact with the market.
take advantages of this, in order to win over competitors, you need know know your competitors well. Follow something that helpful and useful and do not follow that what they have fail .

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