Reverse engineering is the process of making a reproduction of another’s product/service by tearing it down and figuring out how it works in hopes of duplicating or producing better value.

Doing this process presents a lot of great benefits in business:

  • It greatly reduces the cost of research & development
  • It allows you to understand why it has an impact on the market
  • It can help you better understand the competition

In this five-part series, I want to take you through a series of reverse engineering procedures that will allow you to tear down your competitors to see what really makes them tick. You will gain an edge on the competition if you understand their fundamentals – this gives you the “one-up”.

The series will comprise of the following (which you may use to jump around):

Whether you know it or not – your competition is doing this to you. The competition is keeping close tabs on you; they may even be your customers to get on the inside!

But enough of all that… let’s get into the top of part three of the series: Social.

Understanding the Competition & Social

Social channels will tell a lot about a business, its brand, and its audience. The public nature of social is that it’s out there in public so you already have a layer of transparency. You can use this transparency to shape future plans for your business if you use a bit of reverse engineering.

There are many social channels out there but generally just stick to the following to make it easy:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+

I would also add forums to this list.

Very few businesses are truly taking advantage of forums. Check to see if your competition is on them (and active) else stick with the list for now.

Here is what I would do when going about looking up, monitoring, and reverse engineering your competition on social:

A. Visit their website

This is where it’s almost certain they will have social buttons to their profiles (then copy them to a spreadsheet or form). Check their site or blog, and you will find the links.

B. Subscribe to their feeds

Do this so you can take daily notes on their updates (and to amass a swipe file around the updates you see go over well with the community).

Take notice of what they’re posting and its frequency while seeing how their audience responds.

Lurk and adapt your strategy when they have a shift but stay one step ahead of the curb by beating them to the punch (via analytics, testing, and trends).

C. Check their followers

Skip the tools and go old school by keeping track of the most vocal followers on the major social channels.

It cuts through the hundreds/thousands that may be following so you can really cut down on the type of audience they attract (the vocal ones are the ones you want).

D. Entice the audience

Inch your way into their territory by creating and sharing content, or starting conversations, which are similar or relevant to those of your competitors. Use the same hashtags and run promotions when they are active, too.

You want to be there when they are there so you can entice their audience with an alternative option (you).

E. Infiltrate their hangouts

Get active in creating content for the types of websites your competitor’s audience are visiting.

Invest in retargeting advertising which places a cookie in their browser so your ads can be shown within networks they may be visiting. Your mission is to be everywhere.

Here is an extra resource I found on stealing your competitors social following that may be helpful.

Conclusion

Understanding your competitor’s social will allow you cut through the endless hassle of finding the right people for your product/service. No more will you blindly attract cold leads because you’ll know who these individuals are based on your reverse engineering of competitor profiles. Give people a better conversation than the competition and you’ll hook them as fans; that’s how you “one-up” their social media game.