Facebook is a valuable resource for gaining insight about your competitors and market space. Here are a few of our favorite tips for mining competitor research from Facebook.
1. Join Facebook groups sponsored by competitors
Not only will you gain access to official marketing communications from your competitor, but you will also be able to view the other members or “fans” of the company. Take time to see how these fans are interacting with the group and its official messaging. Are they commenting on the posts made by the company? Are they mostly silent? Frequent commentators are the ones to watch as they are likely influencing your competitors through the feedback and commentary they are posting. It is best to keep a low profile when joining these groups because group moderators do have the ability to remove and block you from the group if they choose.
2. Search for unofficial groups with reviews or customer feedback
Complaints and negative news may appear in independent Facebook groups for product users, disgruntled customers, former employees, or general industry-related groups. Finding these complaints will help you uncover your competitors' repeated product or customer support issues, especially if you expand this listening tactic to other social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. Another benefit to this strategy is that you will eventually hear feedback about your own products, allowing your company to respond quickly and appropriately.
3. Start a neutral industry group that promotes unbiased discussion about relevant topics
If there isn’t one on Facebook for your space, create a general industry group with a very loose sponsorship from your company. Do not use this group as a marketing tool for your company because that will damage the open discussions you are encouraging. Do not heavily moderate the discussions or you will stifle potentially useful conversation and those comments will go elsewhere. For best results, sit back and listen. From a competitive intelligence perspective, you can use the contacts and conversations to build relationships and listen to discussions about competing products, features desired by customers, partner relationship opportunities, and industry information from an opposite perspective. An added benefit to this strategy is that your company’s sponsorship of the group builds its name recognition as a leader in your industry.
Try these competitive intelligence tactics for Facebook and improve your understanding of your competitors and industry. To be optimally informed when making strategic decisions for your organization, do not ignore social media and keep an eye out for new features that are constantly being developed, like Facebook Questions (currently in a limited trial phase), that can expand your social media competitive intelligence strategy.