Social media is good for more than just marketing or schmoozing. It’s also good for listening. In fact, if you want to keep tabs on your competition, listening is essential, and there are plenty of tools available to help you listen.
Online listening entails many tactics. Here are a few I recommend:
- Google Alerts
- Google Reader
- TweetDeck or HootSuite
The idea is to monitor what’s going on in your niche. Google Alerts help you do that by honing in on certain keywords that are important to you. Google will notify you when those keywords are mentioned online – in a blog post, on a website, in social media, or wherever.
With Google Reader you can keep track of certain blogs in your niche – competitor blogs as well as third-party news blogs that report on important news.
Klout is an influence monitor. You can see how influential your competition is online.
TweetDeck and HootSuite are social media management tools. TweetDeck is owned by Twitter. Both of these applications allow you to monitor and manage social media – including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – and organize information more easily.
Niche forums are great places to go when you want to see how active your competition is in your space. You can also learn what’s going on and the questions that people have about your niche.
Listening is a very important intelligence activity. Learn what’s going on in your niche by listening with these various free online tools.