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Whether you run a large corporate real estate firm or you’re a local agent, social media is a tremendous resource to learn more about your competition and your customers. Use the various social media channels that you’re a part of to your benefit by making contacts and building relationships. Social media has grown exponentially in recent years, and the channels are large enough to be considered as a top source of fresh competitive information. With this knowledge, you can gain a better understanding of what your competitors are doing at all times.

People are following, posting and tweeting all day long with their colleagues, business partners, clients and neighbors. Using social media to dig for intelligence on who knows whom and who they are doing business with can be invaluable in helping you find the right contacts and strategic information for your business. Think of it as a much improved method of garnering this information versus the old-fashioned way of physically visiting the competitor. And, with social media, it’s like you’re looking in from behind a two-way mirror, any time you like.

The size and frequency of social media has made it difficult for companies to keep track of or control what information their employees are sharing. Some are undecided as to the validity of this information, believing some of it may be deliberately put out to mislead. At this point, however, unless you travel in a high stakes corporate setting, you probably don’t have to worry about that because most people don’t think twice about the information they convey in these venues.

Be your own business intelligence-gathering expert. Make it a regular part of your strategic marketing effort to consistently view competitors’ websites and social media pages, and set up Google Alerts to automatically send you messages regarding your competitors and even your own company. You always want to monitor and shape what’s being said about your brand while monitoring and staying ahead of your competitors.

Monica O’Neill is marketing manager for Home Warranty of America.

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