Your competitors are on Twitter too. You can use the platform to keep tabs on them and stay abreast of what they’re releasing and their brand and product sentiment.
Add competitors to a private Twitter list. Add both a company’s founders, leadership team members, and their company handles to a private list. This can help you keep a beat on the company and what they’re working on.
Query Twitter to see competitors’s mentions. Search for a company’s mentions to see what their customers are saying about them. This can provide you with hints on how to improve your own business or product and who their users are.
While you should track competitors, their behavior shouldn’t guide your decisions. Founders and companies who follow the (building-in-public)[#build-in-public] model will share failures, mistakes, and breakthroughs that can be helpful, but for the vast majority of branded companies out there, Twitter remains a promotional channel for sharing highlights and attempting customer acquisition and retention. Failing to understand this and blindly duplicating what you think a competitor is doing will more than likely waste your time and lead you astray.
A competitor can hype things that aren’t working or produce lukewarm results.
A competitor won’t disclose actions that give them a true competitive advantage.
A competitor’s Twitter following may not be reflective of their actual users or only represent a small subsection.
Here’s the problem with copying: Copying skips understanding. Understanding is how you grow. You have to understand why something works or why something is how it is. When you copy it, you miss that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath.Jason Fried (@jasonfried), co-founder and CEO, Basecamp*