Hand in hand with my previous blog goes this post. Just as you need to be aware of what’s being said about you/your name/brand/company, you should know what’s being said about your competition and what your competition is saying. At the very least you should know how your competition is using the same social networks as you are so you can improve your own use, or expand to another network.

I’m a journalist so my competition is other journalists, traditional and citizen, and media outlets. Just like monitoring my name on the Web, I run searches and lists to keep tabs on the competition. Any journalist or media outlet using the same networks as me, especially Twitter, should be monitoring what I do. I’m aware of this and behave appropriately, i.e. not give away exclusivity on stories.

I use my Local Media Twitter list to follow all I can in the state. I run live searches using Seesmic on individual journalists and media outlets that are the most active and not just an RSS feed of a Web site. This live search is essential while I’m On the News Desk as I want to know what the competition is doing at all times.

By searching a journalist’s or media outlet’s Twitter ID without the “@” I follow not only their tweets but also replies to them. I can see entire conversations this way. You may think this is stalking, but I view it as prudent, smart work to stay on top of the competition. Again I fully expect the same to be done with my own account.

I check out my Twitter lists occasionally to catch up on what I’m not live searching. Hootsuite syncs with your Twitter lists which makes it a great tool to get a good glimpse of many lists at once. Hootsuite also updates the lists automatically so my lists become my active searches.

There have been a couple of journalists with public accounts that have blocked my Twitter account, and have blocked @CBS4Denver. You see these are not the only two Twitter accounts of which I have access. I simply followed these journalists on these other accounts I have. Several Twitter applications allow you to access all accounts in one spot, so even though one account may be blocked another isn’t so I’m still able to run live searches that include these journalists that have blocked me.

No, I’m not cheating. I’m just better at the game! Okay, that isn’t it either. I know how tasking it is to read every profile and to decide if you’re going to follow or block someone. I’m just betting on this fact to be able to follow these journalists. In the end, if all my accounts are blocked, I can still check on these journalists because their accounts are public by going directly to their account twitter.com/name to see what they’ve been posting.

Facebook is different. Most journalists in the Denver area don’t have a separate professional page like I do. I haven’t even bothered trying to friend these journalists because I’m not their friend in real life. Now, I am actually friends or acquaintances of journalists at other outlets (GASP!) so we are Facebook friends and I get the joy of learning about their life and work. I don’t let just anyone friend my personal account, but if another journalist requested to be my friend with my professional account, I would accept. This is just me living my philosophy of being open and transparent on social networks. Others disagree with me on this.

I do fan and friend all local media Facebook pages I can find. I want to know how these pages are being used. I also want to know the kind of responses these pages get. I’m very interested to know which pages get the most responses and which are the most interactive with their pages. I want to know so I can make what I and the station do better.

Many journalists have blogs that run on their outlet’s Web sites or have blogs elsewhere like through WordPress or Blogger. I follow those that are the most active and consistent writers. I follow those who I feel are in direct competition with the station. The blogs I’m not following I check out once a week or every other week.

I find the blog lists on media Web sites so helpful to easily pop in on a blog. I want to see what these journalists are writing. I want to read the comments and see if the journalist is responding to the comments. Then there are a few journalists who have blogs, not on their media outlet Web site, that actually don’t allow comments! To those journalists I just shake my head in sorrow and disgust.

I also check on media Web sites often to see headlines, read their version of the stories, and to review the comments that are being posted. I run Google Alert searches on some of these media outlets to know what is being said about them. I haven’t gone totally stalker (yet) as I have no Google Alerts running on individual journalists except on my husband. He asked me to run the alert! Ask him if you don’t believe me!

First and foremost I do all of this to makes sure I’m not missing something when I’m working. Second I do this to know, to compare, and to learn. I want to stay on top of how I’m using social networks. I want to be better than others in my field using social networks. I want to compete with those in my field that are using social networks successfully.

You can do the same for your field of work.