Step Up Your Social Ep. 10 — Facebook Wants You To Know What Your Competitors Are Doing... So Does Google
Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well, so that you could grow your own business accordingly?
Facebook has a free feature, available to all Facebook Brand pages, that might as well be a magic wand. Yet so few brands are taking advantage of this simple, powerful and important feature.
So let’s dig into Facebook’s “Pages To Watch.”
Afterward, we’ll cover some other helpful and free tools you should be using to keep tabs on your competitors across the internet, including mailing lists, other social channels and the almighty Google Alerts.
Full Episode Transcript
Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well, so that you could grow your own business accordingly? Facebook has a free feature, available to all Facebook Brand pages, that might as well be a magic wand. Yet so few brands are taking advantage of this simple, powerful and important feature. So let’s dig in to Facebook’s “Pages To Watch.” Afterwards, we’ll cover some other helpful and free tools you should be using to keep tabs on your competitors across the internet. But first up: Pages to Watch.
To access this great feature, go to your brand’s Facebook page. At the top, you will see a menu bar including the following items: Page, Inbox, Notifications and then Insights. Click there. If you haven’t been to your insights yet, you are missing out on a ton of valuable information. We’ll do some more deep dives into Facebook Insights down the road. But for now, let’s just stick to this particular tool.
Once you’ve clicked Insights, you’ll be on the “overview” page. Scroll down to the bottom and you should see a section called “pages to watch.”
If you have never been there before, chances are Facebook has auto-populated the section with pages they think you might want to watch. If they guessed right, great. If not, simply hover over the number on the left and you can delete it from your list.
To add new pages, click the option to “add pages.”
Once you have your pages set up, you’ll see some very basic data: the name of the page, it’s total page Likes, the percent it grew from last week, how many times they posted this week and what their engagement this week has been. None of those data points are all that useful. BUT, if you click on the name of any of the pages, something interesting happens.
Facebook opens up a pop-up box and shows you that page’s top content from the past week. Top content in this case means that it had the highest combination of reach and engagement of anything that page posted this past week. And you can scroll down and see all of their content from the week, ordered by how popular it was for their audience.
Quite a feature, right?!
Bear in mind, when you follow a page, they have no way of knowing you are doing so. So if you want to know what is working for your competitors, without having to continuously go back to their page and scroll through their feed, you can just pop on over here every couple of days and easily keep tabs on them.
If you see that several of your competitors are sharing an article or a meme and it is resonating with their audiences… well don’t steal their content. But definitely do be inspired by it!
The content that is working for your competitors will probably also work for you. Follow along, learn, and create your own content accordingly.
And here’s the thing, while of course you should be watching your competitors, don’t limit yourself to them. Follow influencers in your field, relevant journalists or publications, even high value customers if you they are using brand pages.
Figure out who’s success you most want to track, and then spend a few minutes setting up your Facebook Pages to Watch. It will be an amazing tool you can use indefinitely moving forward.
While we’re on the topic of tracking your competitors, influencers, high-value customers and the like, let’s cover a few ways to do so outside of Facebook.
First of all, if the people you want to follow have public mailing lists, sign up! There’s no better way to know what they are excited about, then to see what they are sharing with the people they care about most. It probably goes without saying, but you might not want to use your company or organization’s branded email to sign up for a competitor’s email list. So use your gmail address, or create something new specifically for this purpose. While it might seem weird to be on their list, don’t forget, unless they are limiting sign-up (and this is important: don’t lie in any way to get on their list!) they know that their list is public. And chances are, if you have an email, they’re on it! As far as influencers and relevant journalists go, you can use your branded email or not. Your call.
In episode two of this podcast, we covered the power and the importance of twitter lists. Twitter lists are a great way to follow relevant accounts. And you can use private lists to do so under-the-radar, even if your brand isn’t using Twitter as an outreach and communications tool. Go back and listen to that episode for more.
There are also plenty of third party tools out there that will track keyword mentions and send you alerts when those keywords pop up online. Some are free, most are not. But one powerful one that is free is google alerts. If you haven’t set up google alerts yet, you should do so immediately.
To do so go to google.com/alerts. Once there you can put in some relevant keywords and let google know that you want to receive email alerts whenever those words are used online. It’s important to know that google alerts don’t track content from social media platforms, so don’t expect to see Facebook or Twitter mentions on there.
But if someone mentions you or your brand in a blog post, or on their website, Google will usually catch it and send you an alert.
And here’s the thing, you can select if you want google to send you an alert as a mention happens, or to instead send you a daily or weekly digest of all mentions. For your brand, you should get those alerts as they happen. Unless people are talking about your brand numerous times a day, you want to know you’ve been mentioned as soon as possible. But if you also want to use them to track competitors, industry keywords, influencers and the like, you might not need them rolling in as they happen and you can opt to receive those alerts as part of a daily or even weekly round-up. The choice is yours.
One other cool thing you can do with google alerts is set them up for high value clients so that if that client gets an award or someone writes a story about them, you can be amongst the first to reach out and congratulate them. Alternately, you can let them know if you find something problematic that they might want to deal with
The tools are out there for you to keep tabs on the internet. The set up is relatively simple and the rewards can be immense.
So I’ll finish this episode with the same question I started it with: Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could use to see what your competitors were doing well? Turns out, you do! You just have to take a moment and set it up.