If you’ve been using social media and hiring content writers as part of your overall marketing plan, you might feel like your small business is on the cutting edge. But have you gotten rid of the one old-fashioned habit that might be holding you back?
Traditional marketing advice warns against mentioning competitors too frequently, but those rules are starting to change in the new social media landscape. Following and sharing your competitor’s content can actually boost your own brand loyalty in the long run, plus teach you more about what your potential customers are searching, sharing, and engaging with on the web.
It’s important to research your competitors, especially regarding the content they’re publishing via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But it’s not enough to simply follow your competitors. Dig deeper and pay close attention to what content gets the most attention and engagement. New tools like Social Crawlytics can help you with this research.
While it’s important to never simply copy a competitor’s content, sharing a very popular blog post, video, or image with your own followers can communicate that your company cares more about bringing valuable content to your customers than petty competitor conflicts.
Sharing Dos and Don’ts
It’s important to be respectful and not simply rip off your competitor’s content. In addition, you want to avoid sharing content that focuses more on your competitor than the industry itself. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:
- DO share popular images, videos or blog posts that relate to your shared industry.
- DO share unique widely available content that your competitor has sourced from another site or social media platform.
- DO keep in mind the 50/50 rule. Your followers will be turned off if you never post and share unique content, so remember to keep at least 50% of your content unique.
- DON’T share content that specifically touts the benefits, products, or services of your competitor. For example, you’ll never see a video for the McRib posted on Burger King’s Facebook page. No matter how much their customers might appreciate the fast food related content, it’s still not worth giving a competitor free ad space on your platform.
- DON’T post competitor content and claim ownership.
Lessons from Sharing
Paying close attention to the content your competitors are sharing can help you better understand your potential customer base. What are your potential followers paying attention to? How can you create that sort of content on your own site? By looking at what engages customers on an industry level, you’ll have a better sense of what they really value and need.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.