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stk149000rkeEditor’s Note: This is the fifth of a seven-part series from Homes.com on how to manage your online reputation. Homes.com has put together a free playbook on the topic, which can be downloaded here. Watch for this series in RISMedia’s Friday Weekly Business Builder e-newsletter.

Both on the playing field and in real estate, the best way to be on the defensive is to watch your opponent’s every move. If you know which way your competition is going, you can better plan your attack. Likewise, keeping an eye on what your competitors are up to helps you learn from their mistakes.

If this task sounds daunting, relax! Here are four easy ways you can blitz the competition and stay in the game.

1. Set up Google Alerts and other alert tools for competitors and industry news. These alerts are email messages sent directly to your inbox based on search parameters you’ve predetermined. As soon as a news item is published online that contains your competitors, you know about it!

2. Follow important industry businesses and leaders on your social networks. Twitter is especially good for this because it’s so fast-paced and up-to-the-minute. Not only does this inform you of what the competition is up to, but it allows you the opportunity to jump in and add to the conversation. If one of your biggest competitors commits a flub, you can retweet the information to your followers and explain how you’d never let that happen!

3. Use analytic services to compare the amount of engagement you get versus the kind they get. How many clicks does your website get? How many does theirs get? How many people are commenting on your Facebook posts? Retweeting their tweets? This is handy information to have so you can figure out which actions you take get the most engagement and which are a waste of your time.

4. Sign up for your competitors’ newsletters and subscribe to their blog feeds. What better way to find out what your competition is doing than by getting it straight from the horse’s mouth?

For more stories on how companies have made this defensive approach work for them, and for more ways to maximize your online reputation, download our free eBook here.

Erica Campbell Byrum is the Director of Social Media for Homes.com.

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