Keep your clients close and their competitors closer: 4 ways to monitor competitor activity

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  • September 19, 2017
William Hobson

William Hobson

Digital PR Executive

An important part of working in an agency is having a great relationship with the client. It’s efficient, effective, and the work is so much easier when everyone’s on the same page.

What your client’s interests and performances are isn’t the only essential part of agency life, though; understanding and monitoring their competitors is also crucial. Below are a few different tools and techniques that I use to make sure I monitor what my competitors are up to.

Monitoring your own clients

The first step is to monitor your client’s activity, as you can see what PR activity they are up to, and make sure you are ahead of the game in terms of learning from their mistakes and using their successes as inspiration.

When I first start to work with a new client, I like to make sure I have every alert set up to monitor their activity, as well as several of their competitors.

My go-to tool for this would be BuzzSumo; this is ideal for finding shareable content ideas, and I’ve found the alert feature to be pretty accurate. It’s also a great way to pick up any articles that have gone live without you noticing.

Buzzsumo

The alerts feature is easy to use, and I’d recommend setting this up for your clients and at least two of their competitors. It allows you that extra bit of awareness about their activities in order to make sure your campaigns are always ahead of the game.

Backlink checks

About once per month I run a backlink check on my competitors, as this gives me a quick insight into their activities and whether we can learn from the campaigns they’re running.

Below are some of the tools I use to check out backlinks. I use a combination of all of these in order to get a broad range of results, and to cover all areas of Digital PR Campaigns:

Ahrefs

ahrefs

Fresh Web Explorer

Fresh Web Explorer

Open Site Explorer

Moz.com

SEMRush

SEMrush

These are the four top tools for checking back-links. I use all of these as well as a simple Google search to make sure I find backlinks and coverage generated by my client’s competitors.

Social media monitoring

Social listening is another great way to monitor your competitor’s PR and social activity. At Branded3, we use Crimson Hexagon to do this, but other tools are also available. This type of monitoring provides an insight into how many followers the clients competitors have versus themselves, and the types of conversations they are having to engage with their audiences.

This tool is a useful way to inform the overall digital PR strategy, and to fill in any gaps in your plan. A full audit of each social channel is recommended to create a collaborative plan with both social and PR feeding off into each other.

Below is an example of the word clouds and topic wheels pulled from Crimson Hexagon for an upcoming campaign about Christmas markets. These are extremely useful to inform future campaigns in terms of related content and conversations, for example you can see all the related words that may help with inspiration for future ideas.

Crimson Hexagon

Trending data

As a final recommendation, simply monitor competitor’s activity by keeping up to date with the news, social media, and a general Google search. This may sound obvious, but with a world of tools on offer it’s easy to forget, and it’s an easy way to gain inspiration for upcoming campaigns.

Keeping an eye out for PR and social campaigns at least once per week will add to and enhance your strategy, and allow you to think further than just your own clients. At Branded3, we write a weekly blog post on the PR campaigns we’ve seen in that week and what we think worked particularly well which can be seen here.

Overall, I think it’s essential to use all of these tactics to make sure you’re helping to make your client the best in their industry.

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