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‘Practical Techie:’ Effective biz snooping around is productive

Editor’s Note: This editorial column is meant to offer practical advice on technology tools that are ideal for the business community.

It’s a very human trait, watching out for the competition. Whether it be in sports, politics, the love life, the neighbors, who’s top in the classroom or keeping with the latest trends. And, who’s doing what in social media.

In our competitive world, there’s no respite. In the business world, it’s a necessary exercise, monitoring the other side and keeping tabs on brand behavior out there in the global marketplace.

Smart entrepreneurs do it to stay ahead of the game, and it’s all a matter of doing it legally. Preferably, in a very elegant manner.

Technology can help in both instances. There are many web tools available to watch over the competition

One of the powerful tools is Brand Mentions, which does brand monitoring very well. It monitors key channels on the web and social media and keeps the user “up to date with everything that matters to a particular market niche and anything connected to a company.” With this tool, the entrepreneur gets feedback in any mentions of a brand

“This way you get to know who talks about you and what, at the moment they do it,” says the Brand Mention page.

There are many other savvy tools to check out the business competitor. Some are paid, some are free, depending on how deep you want to peer into your rival’s doings.

iSpionage looks at how your competitors are advertising with Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo search marketing tools.

KeyHole.co allows you to search for hashtags and keywords on Instagram and Twitter. It dishes out dashboards of very valuable tracking of a brand or its competitors by influencers, or in top posts, pages and domains. They’ll also slice the data by demographics, platforms, keywords, and hashtags. You can also save your searches for future reference.

Also available is the app Open Social Buzz provides real-time search of Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Plug in your competitor’s name and see how much social prominence they have accumulated.

These next tools, Adbeat and AdGooroo will aid you in determining where competitors are advertising. The apps will show the ads that an advertiser has put up on the Web and also locate competitors you didn’t even know about within the Google realm.

If you want to check out your competitors’ direct mail, email, and social campaigns got to Who’s Mailing What.

SpyFu lets you see up to six years of data on your competitors’ keywords.

But, it’s not only about spying the competition. This one, Marketing Grader quickly gives out a ranking in search engines of websites and blogs. Use it to find out how your web page is rated in terms of lead generation and overall effectiveness. MixRank allows you to see the mix of ads that companies are using. 

A more technical, but useful tool is BuiltWith. It gives you info on the technology of a wbsite, servers, content management, underlying technology, analytics and advertising behind your competitors’ pages.

Talkwalker is the most practical. It offers a service similar to Google Alerts. It monitors news, blogs, discussions and other themes that include your competition’s tracks in the web and it’s a free service.

Then, there are links and there are backlinks. This tool, Majestic Site Explorer provides detailed  data maps about a brand or a product in terms of tracking their daily usage on the web. 

So, there they are, efficient, practical tools to keep up with the competition. It’s also wise to follow competitors on social media and track their messaging content. This service, Sprout Social Media, tracks what is trending in your social media circles by focusing on a specific industry.

Another good strategy is to subscribe to their blogs and check out announcements of upcoming product launches or sales pitches and strategies for customer retention. Real data is better than the fanciful rumor mill.

Author Details
Author Rafael Matos is a veteran journalist, a professor of digital narratives and university mentor. He may be contacted at cccrafael@gmail.com.

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