In some industries, the only way to know what the competition is doing is to send an inside spy to work for the company for some time and report back about its strategy and upcoming projects. Unless you happen to big Google, Facebook, or Microsoft, your business doesn’t need to go to such extremes to search for what your competition is doing. Instead, all you need are a few social media tools to keep an eye on other businesses similar to yours.

One of the best ways to search for what your competition is doing is by using Twitter. You can simply follow all of your competition’s Twitter accounts and add them to a list (which you can set as private) so you can easily see what the bulk of your competition is up to with a single click. If you don’t want your competition to know you are watching its updates and engagements with its followers on Twitter, you could make a separate Twitter account that does not identify the account as being associated with your business or brand. Then, follow your competition’s Twitter accounts on this other Twitter account.

Another easy way to search for what your brand’s competition is doing is by using Facebook. Like Twitter, you may not want your competition to know you are following its every move via social media, so use your personal account to “like” all of your brand’s competition. You can even add all of these businesses to a list on Facebook, and selectively read updates from only this list to filter out these updates and conversations from the rest of your Facebook wall feed.

How to Use Social Media for Business to Search for What Your Competition is Doing

Finally, be sure you keep up on your competition’s blogs as well. Many brands and businesses announce new products, upcoming changes, and events on blogs. If you want to be one of the first to know what your competition is doing — and therefore get a leg up on being competitive yourself — you will want to know about these blog posts. The best way to keep up with other blogs is via RSS. Simply subscribe to each of your competition’s blogs and then use a service like Google Reader to scan for new posts every day. Using Google Reader to manage your subscriptions is recommended, as many other readers used on devices like Android and iOS platforms can import your subscriptions from Google Reader with one click, which makes keeping up with your competition especially easy.

To really keep up with your competition, use all the methods available to search for what your competition is doing, including following your competition on both Facebook and Twitter. Knowing what other businesses and brands are up to will ensure you will always have a leg up on the competition.