Marketers the world over are using social media not only to connect with customers and prospects, but also to see how well their competition is doing. As the wired social world grows in sophistication, so do the means to monitor the conversation.

Sure, it's easier than ever to keep an eye on the competition, but exactly where does one begin, you ask? Here's some help.

Founder Bill Balderaz of Webbed Marketing has offered three sound tips for using social media to keep an eagle eye on your rivals:

Set up Tweetbeep. "If you can use Google Alerts, you can use Tweetbeep," Balderaz notes. Visit Tweetbeep.com to enter competitors' names; you'll get email alerts whenever someone tweets about them: "Competitors' clients will tweet about how well (or poorly) the latest pitch went, their employees will complain about working all night to get the new product into beta. A reporter will talk about using them for a source. Customers will talk about pricing." Twitter spy tool—check!

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