Tracking what your competitors are doing ‘right now’ is all important in radio.
How you do that is up to you… But I suggest the following 5 ways of spying on them – actually, it’s more like keeping tabs on them than spying.
What I am also suggesting here is free, simple ways to track what they are doing – it is up to you to formulate your strategy to tackle what they are doing, and to build your market share.
- Join their mailing list, and, subscribe to their social media.
Yes this is a simple one, and I am surprised that you don’t already do this – join their list using a personal or G-mail account and keep tabs on what is being said, and not being said. This also includes reading any blogs they have running, and watching their Linked-In page like a hawk (see if they are looking for new staff, and what is being said and done on their socials too).
Some radio stations (TV and newspapers too – they are your competition too – remember that!) announce new shows, features, publish updates and drop other news that can give you some insight into what they’re doing and what they’re about to do.
Write a daily check list of their sites and pages, and it should be the first thing you do when you come in the door every day. If you aren’t tracking all your competitors yet, do it now and come back here in a minute.
- Track their major advertisers.
This one is a little harder to do, and requires some monitoring of what is going on – using a program like Soniflex’s FLASHLOGGER or similar to track the other radio stations is a simple thing to do – you will pick up on who their major sponsors are and just note how many ads they run during breakfast and other ‘prime times’. If you see it drop – you know something is up.
Soniflex’s FLASHLOGGER is a paid program, and I can’t find anything else out there that you can use for free. But if you know of one, please let me know.
3. Track their technology use too!
Sometimes, you have to admit defeat, and know that your competitor has better technology than you, they may have better OB set-up or equipment, or maybe the technology behind their marketing (from emails to website) whatever it is, it might be superior to what you are using. While it might be the team they have behind the scenes, it is more likely to be their technology.
For example: You pay a visit to their website… and everywhere you go on it, their ads are so well-tailored to you, so you just want to click, Click, CLICK?
Well, they might be the masters of Google Remarketing and Facebook Retargeting but how do you know it’s not something more? How do you find out?
Try this fantastic tool: Go to builtwith.com and paste in their URL. You will see what technologies their website uses so you can implement it for yourself or look for other alternatives. NOTE: Checking technologies on websites is free, more advanced features (importing a list of websites using given technologies) are included in a paid version.
4. Are they REALLY that popular?
Some companies have thousands of likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter (and other socials).
Does it REALLY mean they have that many listeners? NO! Not necessarily. It often means they just spend lots of time developing social media presence. Or…. (and this is the ugly side of social media) they could be buying likes and followers (trust me this happens ALOT!) so more reliable information is needed to figure out just how popular your competitors are in real life – not just in the digital world.
One of the best metrics that is simple (but not 100% reliable) is the traffic that may be heading to their website. Not only are the numbers here important but also where it is trending – some competitors might be not popular at the moment but if you see their traffic growing month by month… then they might kick you aside and pass you in a few months from now, so you better take action while you have a chance.
Here is another useful online tool I have used before: Similarweb – While the free version is NOT 100% reliable, you can observe trends and have an overall view of their popularity, it shows you not only the amount of traffic they might be getting, but also its sources – thereby giving you a hint where it could be worth to advertise or to be present if you are not already there. While SimilarWeb is free for basic use, it does offer more advanced insights in paid plans – if you want to go that far.
5. Identify their ‘Brand Ambassadors’
An old ‘true-ism’ is that “People trust other people, not companies.”
That’s why it is so important to have people talking about you and recommending you. Especially online.
For example, if you note that podcasts are extremely popular, and you don’t do them – then DO THEM!
If you give away cheesy ‘CD’ prizes, and your competitors give away massive prizes, then you need to figure out how to top them doing something different.
Converting those new listeners after you have done this is not easy, but worth the effort – AND if they say to all their friends and their followers that they started listening to you and why – then you will gain more listeners and a bigger market share. BUT you need to keep them! You need to formulate a plan to keep those people who have now tuned in (and bought an audience with them).
HOW? Keep an eagle eye out for these brand ambassadors.
You won’t be surprised that there are online tools that can do that too.
I can highly recommend Followerwonk’s Social Metric which translates Twitter data so you can easily identify the best social influencers to follow and contact.
You will need a Twitter account, and to give Followerwonk access to your account to use it.
Then it will analyse their audience, compare your stats, and get insight on their most mentioned handles and domains to surface topics that engage. Find out who are the most active and influential followers and watch what they do, and how they do it. Maybe you can use that to your advantage?
FINALLY: Just remember you are watching only, not sabotaging, not doing anything wrong.
If you do a direct steal of their promotions, or copy EXACTLY what they are doing, make no mistake, it will back fire on you BIG-TIME!
The tools I have mentioned here are useful only to gather data, you need to create your own strategy to try to get ahead of them.
Having a plan, knowing where your competitors are heading is the first step on getting the edge on them. It’s what you do next that will show your listeners what type of station you are and if you are worth staying listening to.