Without a clear vision of what your competitors are doing—what content they’re putting out, how their audience is responding, and the sentiment around their brand—your marketing strategy can quickly become a shot in the dark. This lack of insight is more than a minor inconvenience. It’s a substantial obstacle that can slow your growth and diminish your market share.

Consider this: A study by Crayon found that 94% of businesses believe that competitive intelligence is essential for their success, yet only 23% feel confident in their ability to track competitors effectively.

This stark contrast highlights a critical pain point for today’s marketers. Without effective tools to monitor and analyze competitor activities, you’re just guessing.

And guessing isn’t a strategy. It’s an act of falling behind. 

This article will cover how Agorapulse’s listening tool can help you stay informed about your competitors, understand what works for them, and find new opportunities to create better content. With powerful features designed to track and analyze competitor activities, you’ll gain the insights needed to refine your strategy and lead the pack. If you want to start doing immediately, sign up for a free trial of Agorapulse right now.

How Listening Can Help You Gain Competitive Intelligence

So, how do you go from fumbling in the dark to actually knowing what your competitors are up to? The answer isn’t to simply continue stalking their social media profiles. (Although, let’s be honest, we’ve all done it!) The more efficient way for you to gain details about competitors’ strategy is to use a social listening tool. That way you can gather real-time insights that can shape your marketing strategy.

With Agorapulse’s listening tool, you can set up searches to track your competitors’ brands, hashtags, or related keywords. You can see what they’re posting, how their audience is reacting, and what people are saying about them.

Here’s how social listening can help:

Monitor competitor activity. You’ll know exactly what your competitors are posting and how often they’re mentioned. This gives you a clear view of their strategy.
Analyze engagement. See which posts are getting the most likes, comments, and shares. Are they posting more videos, or is it their witty tweets that are winning? Use this info to tweak your own content.
Gauge sentiment. Find out if people are raving or ranting about your competitors. This helps you spot opportunities to swoop in and do better.

For example, if you notice a competitor’s tutorial videos are getting loads of engagement, maybe it’s time to dust off your camera and create some killer how-to videos of your own.

Social listening is what turns your guesswork into strategy. And the best part? You’re not just keeping up—you’re getting ahead.

How to Set Up Effective Listening Searches

Now that you’re sold on the idea of using social listening, let’s talk about how to set it up effectively. Doing so is easier than you think. With the right approach, you’ll be uncovering useful insights about the competition in no time.

1. Define your goals

Before you start social listening, you need to know why you’re doing it. Are you aiming to gauge the sentiment around your competitors’ new product launch? Do you want to see which marketing strategies are working for them? Clear goals will help you set up more precise and effective searches.

Potential goals for competitor analysis are to:

Understand competitor sentiment
Gauge how customers feel about your competitors. Are they loved or loathed? This can help you identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Analyze marketing campaigns
See what marketing tactics your competitors are using and how effective they are. Are their promotions hitting the mark, or falling flat?

Track product launches
Monitor the buzz around new product launches by your competitors. Understand customer reception and pinpoint any issues or highlights.

Identify customer pain points
Discover what customers are complaining about regarding your competitors. Use these insights to improve your own offerings.

Benchmark performance
Compare your brand’s performance against competitors on various metrics like engagement, sentiment, and share of voice.

Spot industry trends
Stay ahead by identifying trends and shifts in your industry that your competitors might be capitalizing on.

Monitor influencer collaborations
Track which influencers are partnering with your competitors and how these partnerships are performing.

Detect emerging threats
Keep an eye out for new entrants or emerging competitors in your market.

By clearly defining these goals from the start, you can tailor your social listening searches  to capture the most relevant data, helping you make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.

2. Choose the right keywords

Next up, you need to identify the keywords you want to listen for. For a competitive edge, your search keywords could include things like:

  • Competitor brand names (including common misspellings or abbreviations)
  • Product names
  • Industry-related keywords or hashtags
  • Competitor taglines and slogans
  • Words like “love,” “hate,” “best,” or “worst” to gauge sentiment

For example, if your company is Adidas, you would want to track what your biggest competitor, Nike, is up to. In that case, you’d probably want to create listening searches for “#Nike” “#justdoit,” “#airforceones,” or perhaps even platform-specific hashtags such as “igsneakercommunity”and other terms related to the sneaker community.

3. Use boolean operators

Now if you find that your search is returning a ton of results,  refine your search with Boolean operators. It’s basically using terms like AND, OR, and NOT to get more specific results. For example, “Nike AND sneakers” will show mentions that include both terms, while “Nike NOT running” will exclude mentions that have both Nike and running in the result.

In Agorapulse, you can easily use these boolean operators to create more precise listening searches. You can even filter the results to include a particular geographic location and language.

An example of the search parameters that can be applied within Agorapulse's advanced social listening add-on.

This is an example of the boolean search parameters and other filters that can be applied within Agorapulse’s advanced social listening add-on.

4. Regularly review and adjust

Your industry and competitors are always evolving, and so should your searches. Regularly review the results and tweak your keywords and settings as needed. This ensures you’re always getting the most relevant and up-to-date information.

By setting up effective searches, you’ll have a steady stream of insights flowing in. But hold on a second, because you aren’t quite done yet!

5. Analyze the data

Now you’ve set up your searches and your Agorapulse dashboard is lighting up with all sorts of data. Great! But data alone doesn’t make your strategy better—understanding it does.

Here’s how to analyze the raw data and turn it into actionable insights.

Look for patterns

Start by identifying patterns in your competitors’ activities. Are they posting more frequently on certain days? Do they get more engagement with specific types of content? Spotting these trends helps you understand what’s working for them, and may spark some new ideas for your own content strategy.

Dig into engagement metrics

Which posts are getting the most likes, shares, and comments? Engagement is a strong indicator of what resonates with their audience. For example, if their behind-the-scenes posts are getting tons of likes, it might be worth trying out similar content.

Agorapulse’s advanced listening add-on can help you quickly see at a glance the total engagement for each listening search, as well as the average engagement per day.

competitive intelligence
By tracking engagement metrics of your competition, you can:
– Measure audience interest in a particular topic
– Identify the most effective social media platforms for your audience
– Identify the most effective types of content and gauge content relevance

Look at the sentiment analysis

Understanding how the market perceives your competitors is crucial.  Are they viewed as industry leaders or laggards? Do customers trust them? Sentiment analysis gives you a snapshot of public opinion, helping you position your brand and your content more effectively.

In Agorapulse’s advanced listening, sentiment is automatically detected and applied to the items you listened to. You’ll also see that each listening search has a sentiment score calculated.

The sentiment score is the ratio of positive items, divided by the total of positive and negative items. A score under 50 means you have more negative than positive items. A score over 50 means you have more positive and negative items.

Sentiment analysis in Agorapulse

Sentiment analysis and sentiment score breakdown in Agorapulse

You can see the results in a clear, easy-to-understand graph, which shows you the sentiment breakdown of items that are positive, negative, or neutral. You can even view the sentiment score by day in a line graph, showing how sentiment levels changed each day.

How can you use this information to your benefit?

Analyzing sentiment helps you understand what customers love and hate about your competitors. Positive sentiments can highlight strengths—such as superior customer service, popular product features, or successful marketing campaigns. On the flip side, negative sentiments can reveal weaknesses—such as poor product quality, bad customer experiences, or ineffective marketing strategies.

By knowing these, you can capitalize on the weaknesses and emulate the strengths of your competitors. For example, if you see a competitor’s latest product is getting slammed in the comments, you might want to steer clear of similar strategies—or even address the issues they’re facing in your own approach.

Identify content gaps

Another way that you can use social listening data to improve your marketing is to look for content gaps in your competitors’ content strategy. Maybe they’re not covering a topic that’s gaining traction elsewhere. This is your chance to fill that gap with your own content and marketing campaigns, and attract their audience to your brand. For instance, if they’re focused heavily on Instagram but ignoring LinkedIn, you might find an opportunity there.


Compare their metrics against yours. Are their posts consistently getting more engagement? Are they being mentioned more frequently? Benchmarking helps you understand where you stand in the competitive landscape and highlights areas for improvement.

Bonus Tip: If you aren’t sure where you stand relative to your industry or geographic region you can also use Agorapulse’s Social Trends tool. Social Trends is a tool that allows you to find out social media performance and stats for Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can explore trends by region and industry, month by month, plus see the most popular hashtags and types of content on each platform.

How to Use Competitive Intelligence

Now, once you’ve analyzed the data, it’s time to take action. Here’s how you can use these insights to improve all areas of your business:

 1. Create better content

By understanding what resonates with your competitors’ audience, you can create content that is more engaging and relevant. Whether it’s blogs, videos, or social media posts, your content will be better-informed and more likely to attract and retain attention.

2. Enhance customer experience

Identify the pain points and complaints customers have about your competitors and use this information to improve your own offerings. This proactive approach can help you solve issues before they arise, ensuring higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Guide product development

Gain insights into what features or services are highly valued by your competitors’ customers. This can guide your own product development, ensuring you’re meeting market demands and staying ahead of the curve.

4. Strengthen your brand positioning

Monitor the sentiment around your competitors to gauge market perception. Use this information to position your brand more effectively, highlighting your strengths and differentiating yourself from the competition.

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Identify and capitalize on emerging trends before your competitors do. By staying informed about industry shifts and changes, you can adapt quickly and maintain a competitive edge.

6. Improve sales strategies

According to Crayon’s annual “State of Competitive Intelligence” survey, 65% of sales opportunities for the average B2B SaaS company are competitive.

Survey respondents also acknowledged that their markets “have gotten much more competitive,” and yet seller enablement confidence scores sit at just 59/100.

This goes to show that having accurate and up to date battlecards can create a huge advantage for your sales team. And the insights from your social listening can help you empower your sales team with useful and relevant sales enablement content. This enables them to address customer objections more effectively, highlight your advantages, and close deals more efficiently.

Get Ahead With Social Listening for Competitive Intelligence

Social listening can help your brand stay flexible and pivot quickly in response to new trends or emerging threats. So, you can spend less time guessing and more time strategizing. Remember, the goal is to be proactive, not just reactive. With the right listening searches in place, you’ll be well on your way to staying ahead of the competition.

Ready to leave your competitors in the dust? Start using Agorapulse for social listening today and transform your guesswork into strategic action. Don’t just keep up with the competition—leave them behind.

How to Stop Guessing and Start Winning With Social Listening