Mobile app encourages spying

The idea of always keeping tabs on your competitors and what they are doing isn’t new. This espionage-like snooping is a large part of the marketing plans of most businesses. With the rise of social media, it’s now easier than ever before to keep track of competition. So accessible in fact, that many business owners are actually having a tough time monitoring what’s going on because of the overabundance of information. One company set out to develop a mobile app to help companies keep tabs on their competitor’s social media efforts.

Perch is a free app developed by Closely for the iOS and Android platforms. The concept of the app is that it provides you with a central place from which you can keep track of your competitor’s social media campaigns.

Think of this app as your own personal business CIA. It allows you to keep tabs on what your competitors are doing on Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and many other daily deal sites. You can even set it up so that you get a daily or weekly summary email with details on competitor efforts.

The app is powered by Foursquare’s location technology, and when you first sign on it will display similar companies in your area. From there you are able to add companies to a watchlist which will constantly keep track of their social activity.

Is this a good idea?
Keeping track of what your competitors are doing makes good business sense, and apps like Perch can help you cut back the amount of time you spend doing competitive research. This is a two-way street as it also gives your competitors a way to easily view what you are doing.

Some opponents have noted that apps like these that essentially allow businesses to spy on one another, could foster a non-competitive environment if every time a business does something, all competitors follow. This negates the benefits the app aims to offer. Then again, this app is really an aggregator of information that’s freely available on the Internet, so it really just makes it easier to do something that businesses are already able to do.

One thing’s for certain: Businesses that rely on daily deal sites, or review sites like Yelp, will greatly benefit from an app like this. We’d like to know your thoughts, from both a moral and business standpoint, on using mobile apps like Perch. Let us know.

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