How To Steal Your Competitor’s Social Media Followers

Social media is used to build brand ambassadors, drive traffic, and convert sales. While building a social media following can be very difficult, one way to speed up the process is to tap into a fan base that is already established – that of your competitors. Yes, you can steal your competition’s followers right out from under their noses.

Stealing is usually a zero-sum transaction, wherein one party loses and the other party wins. But that is not how it works with social media. This guide will show you how to gain followers by leveraging your competition’s social networks. So if you want to accelerate your social media game by getting followers from your competitors, here are several tips you should consider:

Start Networking

If you want to grow your website, you will need to start treating it like a real business. And what do savvy business owners do to get the edge? They network. So start reaching out to people in the same niche as you, in addition to ancillary niches. For instance, if you own a fantasy football website, you might want to reach out to website owners in the following categories: sports, college, men’s lifestyle, humor, etc.

Find the Authority Competitors in Your Niche

The best way to start is to perform a search on Google for your main keywords. Choose the most important websites based on: number of followers (Facebook, Twitter), posting frequency, and social interactions. Go through each website and see which one has the best community and the most active fans. As an example, I will analyze websites in the “dog” niche. A search on Google for the keyword “dog breeds” reveals these results:

find competitors in search results

After checking the top 10 websites, it seems that only 4 are very popular on social networks:

  • AKC.org – 1 million followers on Facebook and 100k on Twitter
  • Petfinder.com – 317k followers on Facebook and 48k on Twitter
  • Nextdaypets.com – 22k on Facebook and 2k on Twitter – inactive on Twitter for the last few years – we can remove this one from our list
  • Purina.com – 256k on Facebook and 18k on Twitter – a food company – we will remove this one from our list

Analyze Facebook Activity

Now, let’s dig deeper into the first website (American Kennel Club) and check how many users interact with their posts and what they like the most. This way, you can know what their followers expect to see on your page as well.

For this, we will use Fanpage Karma. This tool provides a lot of value for Facebook and Twitter pages.

Type in the Facebook page name you are trying to analyze, and click “get free insights.”

analyze data

In the KPI overview tab, we can see that 20% of the users are “talking about this” and the “engagement” is about 7%.

KPI overview tab

In order to steal your competition’s followers, you must understand what types of posts bring the most interactions on their pages.

Clicking on the tab “Times & Types” shows when AKC is posting and when they are getting the most engagement.

4 posts per days

Remember, we are checking all of these because we need to understand what your competitors are doing well, and what they are doing wrong, so you can learn from their mistakes.

engagement per day

The obvious thing is that Thursday and Sunday are when they get the most engagement. However, they usually don’t post on Sundays. This is information you can benefit from later.

Now, let’s see who the most influential are and where they come from.

Top countries

gender of fans

91% of their followers are females and 89% are coming from the US. Let’s move to the last tab “Fan posts” and check to see how they interact with their fans.

fanposts

68% of the fan posts are ignored. This is where you can take advantage and steal their followers. How will you do that? Go to their Facebook page, and check “Recent posts by others.”

recent posts

Find out if people are posting questions or asking for opinions. If the page owner is ignoring them, you should step up and become useful inside their community. Even if they don’t ask questions, you can start building a relationship and interact with them.

Don’t get too excited, though. Nothing is more annoying to a Webmaster than someone joining their social network to blatantly advertise a website. Don’t do that. You will get banned instantly.

However, you can covertly advertise your site by being truly helpful and becoming a resource for the community. Once you have established yourself as an indispensable authority in your competition’s social network, people naturally will gravitate toward you.

After analyzing the AKC Facebook page, we can note what they are doing well and what you can do better.

The Pros:

  • 20% of their followers are active and engage with the page.
  • 60% of their posts are pictures, and only 33% are links. Pictures get the most attention on all social media networks.

The Cons:

  • The average number of posts/day is 3. A higher number of posts can increase the size of the audience reached.
  • Not enough posts on weekends, even though this is when they get the most engagement.
  • They are not active enough with their fans posts. Almost 70% of their fan messages are ignored.

Analyze Twitter Activity

AKC has 105k followers on Twitter. To check their activity, we will use Twitonomy.

Twitter AKC

Analytics AKC for Twitter

It seems that they are more active on Twitter, averaging 20 tweets per day, compared with Facebook, where they have 3 posts per day. With Twitonomy, you can see who the users are that retweet, reply, or mention them the most.

most retweets and comments

These are the users you should interact with. The one key element of networking is helpfulness. You have to be helpful. You can’t just come asking for a handout; that is just tacky and will get you nowhere. Instead, come with something to offer, no matter how small.

For instance, you can offer something as minor as an insightful comment on one of their tweets. As you start becoming helpful to your direct and indirect competitors, they are going to be more than willing to help you out by broadcasting your content to their followers.

The most retweeted messages from AKC are the ones that ask users to retweet. Social media statistics show that tweets which include the word “retweet” get retweeted 4 times more than others.

Most retweeted

Steal Your Competition’s Followers on Twitter

Create a Twitter list, and follow the most active users. It’s often the case that they will post questions on their Twitter timeline. Monitor the list, and strike when the opportunity presents itself. Be helpful and answer their questions. Most users are looking for multiple sources of information, and they usually follow anyone that provides help.

twitter lists

Hashtags are very important on Twitter. Many use them to find tweets relevant to their interests. You can use the same hashtags as your competitors. Use Twitonomy to find these. Choose the most appropriate ones for your posts.

hashtags most used

Analyze your competitors as shown above and notice what they are doing wrong. The most common mistake is ignoring fans. Avoid their mistakes, and take advantage if they make any.

Follow your competitors and check their replies and mentions. This way, you can find out if their followers complain about their service or if they encounter problems.

Find when their users are the most active with Twitonomy and use the statistics to your benefit.

most active users

Steal Your Competition’s Followers on Google Plus

If you are using Chrome or Firefox, you can install the plugin CircleCount.com and get detailed analytics on the history of your competition’s followers on Google Plus. With CircleCount, you can check who the most influential users are that reshared a post.

After installing the plugin, click the button “Show the ripples for this post.”

circlecount.com

Create a circle with the most active users on your competition’s page and follow them so you can engage with them later.

ripples

Follow the posts from the newly created circle and learn what types of posts they like to see. As mentioned for Twitter and Facebook, provide help if that’s the case.

Check to see if your competitors are posting inside Google Plus communities. If they do, join these communities and start posting there.

Other Methods for getting Followers from Your Competition

Cross Promote – A very popular way to grow followers in social media is cross promotion, which is when two (or more) people in similar niches collaborate to promote each other’s content. For this to work, you will need to approach people with similar social statistics. So, if you have 1,000 Facebook fans and 500 Twitter followers, it is not going to work if you approach a webmaster with 100,000 Facebook fans and 70,000 Twitter followers.

The statistics need to be equipoise so both parties can benefit equally. If you are just starting out, this will be extremely easy because many of the smaller social media accounts are more than willing to find new avenues for promotion.

Become an Influencer – Starting out, no one will know you. But that needs to change if you want to build a strong following on your social media platforms. To become an influencer, here are the things you must do:

  • Create superb content that is shared across the niche.
  • Be on multiple social media platforms.
  • Curate content that is niche-related.
  • Be the go-to source for news and opinion related to the niche. To do this, you must be extremely knowledgeable in your niche. In addition, you must have a strong voice in the community (the community needs to know what you stand for).

Become an Administrator of a Social Media Account – Many big social media accounts actually have someone (or multiple people) managing them. Some businesses actually pay for a fulltime social media manager. But since your goal is to get the word out on your content, you should offer to manage social media accounts for free.

When trying to find social media accounts to manage, avoid accounts that are multi-million dollar businesses because they will not let random people handle their social media accounts. Instead, find social media accounts that look like they are managed by a single person. In addition, find social media accounts that do not have a corresponding website or blog. When you find social media accounts without a website or a blog to complement, the account owner will be much more lenient with you about promoting your own content.

When you are a social media account manager for someone else, it is important that you take the job seriously. So just because you are able to post your content on the account every day doesn’t mean that you should. Do not promote your content 24/7. Instead, you should be promoting truly worthwhile content from around the Internet, and then add in some of your best content every once in a while.

Become a guest blogger – Writing guest articles for highly reputable websites in your niche can give you a lot of advantages. Many blogs accept regular guest blogs from experts. You can find them using these footprints in Google (replace the word “keyword” with your keywords):

  • Keyword “write for us”
  • Keyword “guest post”
  • Keyword “submit a guest post”
  • Keyword “accepting guest posts”

By writing high quality articles on your competition’s blogs, you get exposure and a chance to prove that you are an expert on this field. Kristi Hines wrote a great tutorial for writing guest posts here.

Conclusion

In just a few short years, social media has transformed from an avenue of communication to a marketing juggernaut. If you want to promote your business and grow your brand, you need to take social media seriously. Working social media correctly can mean the difference between your brand flourishing or floundering.

The above tips are ethical and extremely effective methods for garnering a social media following from your competitors. What methods are you using to steal your competition’s followers?

About the Author: Felix Tarcomnicu is the founder of the advertising marketplace, Adsable.com. He is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship, online marketing, and technology. You can follow him or ask him questions on Twitter @felixtarcomnicu.

  1. Interesting perspective. Good, to watch and analyze with those and similar tools. I just can’t get rid of a big of a “not nice play” taste.

    • Studying what your competition does to be successful is something every business should do. I am glad you enjoyed the tools :)

    • Hey, there. That’s a really pretty neat piece of research you’ve got here.

      I hope you can extend it to multiple networks like instagram and tumblr (and pinterest).

      Anyways, thanks

    • Sam you are right to be concerned, it could easily turn out to be not a nice play. But the article was clear about how to do it properly so it does not come across as being icky.
      “Find out if people are posting questions or asking for opinions. If the page owner is ignoring them, you should step up and become useful inside their community. Even if they don’t ask questions, you can start building a relationship and interact with them.”

      “Don’t get too excited, though. Nothing is more annoying to a Webmaster than someone joining their social network to blatantly advertise a website. Don’t do that. You will get banned instantly.”

      I went to a competor’s FB site and looked at the posts by others, and right off I found where a question regarding a malfunction had not been answered, so I answered it,
      At least 3 other posts dealt with safety and I was able to provide very helpful information as to how to become more safe and to advance what they were doing.
      In all cases I was helpful and provided very good information. Not a word about what I do, my site or anything like that, I was just taking part in the conversation and I had a good contribution to make. Now if the person decides to click on me and look at my site that is completely up to them, I didn’t invite them in any way whatsoever or even hint at it.
      Not icky at all :)

  2. Great tips here Kissmetrics. Stealing fans of my competitors is so FUN!

  3. Awesome tutorial, thanks! I was mislead by the title at first.

  4. Yeah right these things is really helpful for SEO and SMM guys.

  5. Hi Felix,
    This is such a great post! Thank you very much for sharing this.

  6. After reading your post title no one will miss the chance to read it. You have given great idea to increase followers quickly. Nice post felix.

  7. Hi Felix

    This is such a great post! Its very useful for the rookies of digital marketing.Thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi Felix, that’s a really useful post, everyone is trying to get more followers on their social media accounts but not many check what their competitors do. Spying competitors is the most effective way to boost your brand awareness not only in social media but on any marketing campaign. Thanks for the actionable tips…

  9. Very Very helpful and interesting post!! A very intriguing concept!!

  10. As a small struggling artisan business I found this information to be invaluable. I will be putting these tips to work to see how my successful competitors use social media. Thank you.

  11. Excellent post! We are just building our social media presence and looking forward to utilizing some of the suggestions here. Thank you!

  12. Excellent post. We are just establishing our social media presence and looking forward to utilizing some of the suggestions here. Thank you!

  13. I was previously unaware of Twitonomy and Fanpage Karma, thanks for the heads up!

    Another good tool, although not free, is social bro. Despite the corny name, it’s great if you manage several accounts at once

  14. I had not heard of Twitonomy. I think every social media manager should be reading this!

  15. I’m so interested to check out these tools and see what I can learn from the competition! Thanks for the tips!

  16. Very thought out and laid out process here actually

  17. Hi Felix:

    How you get to display the number of followers on the google search page?

    Thank you.

    • Hey Joe,

      I added those metrics in photoshop for the purpose of this case study. I don’t know any extension that shows the social media followers like that. If you find one, let me know

  18. Great Tips, Felix. Thanks for the article. Will sure try it out.

  19. Donald Piccione Jan 09, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Excellent article, easy to understand, packed with real tips. I have to try the google+ circle. Smart! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  20. I really appreciate this article, some great tips to improve social media presence. I get a new tool to track my social media presence Fan-page Karma, good tool to manage all your social media channels!

  21. Great tips indeed, Definitely worth trying.. Stealing never been this fun :) .. thanks..

  22. Hi Felix,

    great article! And a big thank you for mentioning us :)

    For all you readers interested in Fanpage Karma, you might hop over to
    http://blog.fanpagekarma.com/category/social-media-tips/

    Cheers,
    Karsten from FPK

  23. Hi great techniques. I think with stealing the competitors’ social media followers we must carry our activities of generating our own followers who are not the followers even of our competitors.

  24. Unfair at first glance, but rather powerful and effective from second perspective. I will deffinitely employ these techniques in my practice.

  25. It’s so good to see this article. Tracking our niche competitors in social media really helps to check the stats. Also it’s important to track their backlinks..

  26. This is devious, just like I like it. Not everyone can admit it, but we all steal something in some way. These a great tips, thanks for sharing.

    • If done as explained in the article it cannot be described as “stealing” at all! If you participate in a conversation that has already been started in a helpful way and avoid any attempt to steer people to your site this is not stealing. If someone likes what you have written and decides to click on you there is nothing wrong with that. Works like a charm :)

  27. Interesting tips to perform with social mefia. Joli! Thanks!

  28. Analyzing and making changes is the need of every social media platform. One needs to develop different methods from the services that social platforms offer and get the most out of it. In social media it is not stealing literally, it’s looking at what your competitors are doing best, adapting and then doing it better than them.

  29. Great indepth article and Fanpage Karma is an absolutely nice tool.

  30. Akash Agarwal Jan 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

    It’s a great article. Most of the people doing social media these days. I am very glad to see this new thing on social media. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Really well done article, and you present some very useful schema for building relationships on social networks. As some mentioned, it might come off as “icky” or fake if you are too upfront, aggressive, and self-promotional. But if you keep it real at first, your genuine authenticity shines through and you will win people over, one by one.

  32. I just followed the link over from Quick Sprout, which was a good article. This has other social platforms as well which is even better!

    • Thanks Andrew! Seems like Neil is very good at stealing content ideas….including screenshots :) I am glad you liked this article better.

  33. Very well written article. I have read an article of this depth after a very long time… A must read. Sharing it on my fb page

  34. these things or really helpful for my fb page

  35. Felix this is a great topic. One we have very interested from a product development perspective, and along the lines of the democratization of data and information.

    There is a tremendous amount of liquidity being created thru content marketing and events, conference that gets people to identify themselves. The problem we kept running into was that its to volume or stream driven w/ traffic in and traffic out. You also dont know when people are going to identify themselves at scale. We created a platform http://spiderQube.com that connects deep stream filtering/targeting to a searchable social database, and have been seeing some extraordinary results.

    One of the meaningful use cases that came out of our beta group was being able to target and competitors audience and essentially own them…. All of them. Its a game changer because now virtually any business, company big or small can point “Spider” at anything and create social databases. The same way we create email databases, but on social steroids.

  36. Great article. Going to definitely implement some of these tactics. Thanks!

  37. When done with professionalism this is not underhand at all. You’re merely marking yourself out as an authority on a subject that you know and understand. You’re being helpful in an environment where you can bring some required knowledge in. This blog is really just a great study into how to create a business network in the social age.
    We’re just started a new Twitter page for our video marketing product and I will definitely be implementing the use of Twitonomy and creating lists of influential users. Great tips not to be sniffed at.

    • Stephen, thanks for the feedback. It’s all about provided the best services while being as transparent as possible. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

      • Hello @Neil Patel, I have read one of your blog post at quicksprout about advanced link building. After that I became a fan of your. Today, it was another pleasant experience for me to read about stealing social media followers from competitors.

  38. Yeah right these things is really helpful for SMM :)

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