Let’s not beat around the bush; eCommerce can seem cut-throat. As the number of online stores increases, so does your need to be one step ahead of your competitors. To stay ahead, you’ll have to get your hands on some inside information. No! I am certainly not talking about corporate espionage or putting on your balaclava and sneaking in Oceans Eleven-style. But, if you want to one-up your competitors you are going to have to dig a little deeper.

You may be surprised to know that there are actually quite a few ways to take a sneak-peak at what your competitors are doing on Facebook, plus an abundance of spy-worthy tools to help you. If you’re looking for Facebook ad insights – to see your competitors’ audiences and what they’re offering and who is taking them up on said offers – it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get a little (but only a very little) dirty.

Spy Vs Spy gif

Who Should You Be ‘Spying’ On?

Your competitors are those online stores that are offering products to a target audience that matches your potential audience. Your competitors’ list should also include big eCommerce brands, so that you can learn, emulate and get inspiration from the big boys.

So how do you spy on your competitors – without breaking any laws or moral codes of cause? It’s actually easier than you may think. Here’s how:

Use the Pages to Watch Facebook Tool

Facebook Pages to Watch

The simplest, and sometimes most under-used way to get your spying on, is through Facebook’s Pages to Watch tool. This entry-level spying tool will show you the number of posts, which of them are top performers and which one of your competitors is doing the best in the ways of engagement. Use the tool to answer questions like:

  • When are they posting, and what are their engagement stats for different times?
  • How often are they posting deals and what deals are they posting?
  • What kind of content are they posting – are they posting links to blogs, product images or video?
  • Are their fans engaging with their content?

Click on your Insights tab, and scroll down to the Pages to Watch tab. You can select around 100 Facebook pages.

Facebook top posts

How to Spy on Competitors’ Facebook Ads

Did you know that your competitors (and Facebook) are already giving you valuable information about their targeting strategy? Facebook Ads has a handy tool – user feedback – that you can use to your advantage. You know that little button on the ads that appear on your Newsfeed that says, why am I seeing this? – have you ever clicked it?

Facebook ad

Clicking this gives you a lot of inside spy-worthy data; how and who they are targeting their ads. This can include at least one of these key variables: age, interests and location.

FB ads targets

In the above example, you can see that this ad was targeted to people interested in Digital marketing within a certain age bracket and location. This gives you pretty specific details on who they target their ads to, and therefore more insights into potential shoppers you could target.

If one of your competitors is marking their ads to an area you haven’t considered or to a demographic you haven’t been marketing to, you’re identifying a gap filled with potential shoppers and allowing you to drill down your Facebook ad targets.

Audience Targeting through Facebook ads

Be Your Competitors’ Biggest Fan

Now that you know how to get those targeting details from Facebook ads, it’s time to ensure you get more of your competitors’ ads on your Newsfeed. How? By becoming their biggest fan. Visit their sites regularly, sign up for their newsletters and spend some time on their pages. This will ensure that you get onto their ‘Custom Audience’ list and more of their ads will be sent right to your Newsfeed.

Facebook targeting for ads

Look at their copy, the products they’re pushing, their CTAs and all those juicy demographics and interests they are targeting. Interested in a specific product on a competitor’s site? No problem, spend more time on those product pages and you will start seeing specific product Facebook ads. When you see ads, ensure you’re clicking ‘This advert is useful’ to ensure you get more of them pushed your way – thanks Facebook!

useful ads FB

How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Content Engagement

For added insights into the competition, you’ll want to spy not just on Facebook ads, but their content plan and their engagement rate. Engagement will show you how their audience – your potential shoppers – found their content. Was it shared, did they like it, did they comment? All questions that will help you understand how their fans and customers see them and respond to their content strategies.

Use sites like Buzzsumo or Facebook’s Top Posts as mentioned above to see how engaged users are in their content.

searching Facebook ads on Buzzumo

Regardless of whether their posts have been boosted or not, you are able to see the percentage ratio of people engaged. An industry secret for engagement, which I will share exclusively with you fine people, is this: social media content that has, when boosted, an organic reach of 25% and higher, are posts that are on point and have almost viral appeal. Now you would be able to see exactly what their organic reach is, but with video, there’s a sneaky way around that. Take this video for example.

Example of facebook video stats

The number of views is 53k, the total number of engagement (shares, likes, comments) is 242. That would make the engagement rate 0.45%.

Through other deductions, you will be able to determine posts that are getting an above average engagement rate than usual content, which can mean that the brand is putting more money into those posts and/or their customers are interested in those products/services.

Bonus: Your Ultimate Guide to Spy Tools

If you’re invested in becoming a professional competitor spy, it may be worth investing in tools to take your sneaky to a whole other level. Here are the top Facebook spying tools.

An Organized Spy is a Successful Spy

As we mentioned above, visiting your competitors’ sites gives you a host of sneaky info. Organizing your sneaking will help ensure you can regularly check your competitors in a time-effective way. You can do this by subscribing to all of your competitors via an RSS feed. Use RSS tools such as Feedly to then view all these competitor feeds in one place.

Freeby screenshot


If you’re looking for tons of Facebook ad examples, AdEsoresso‘s Ads Gallery has over 15,000 ads searchable by keyword, placement, industry, goal, or attributes. This is a great tool to use, so you can get spying without having to wait for your Newsfeed to fill with competitors.

AdEspresso on Amazon


Adicted.io is one of the largest Facebook ad galleries that allows you to search Facebook content by brand names, ad text, URLs and hashtags.

adicted.io search

What makes this tool super handy, is that you are able to see a breakdown of the exact reactions their audience made to the post. This is very handy when you’re looking at adding a new product or when deciding on a new profitable niche to your store, as it will let you quickly gauge your target audience interest.

Facebook engagement on video


If you’re looking for independent measurements on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, and more, then Moat‘s your tool. Moat gives you thousands of mobile, desktop, video, and high impact creatives at your fingertips and their brand alerts mean you will never miss a competitor’s post.

moat screen shot

Fanpage Karma

The Fanpage Karma platform will allow you to analyze your and your competitors’ Facebook pages – in case you can analyze all their social pages and accounts – to get their posts per day, their post reach per day and engagement stats on posts.

Fanpage Karma features

Great data you can use to improve your content strategy and product Facebook ads.

Simply Measured

Simply Measured has some free tools you can use to gather some social media data for competitors.

Simply Measured Free Reports

Scroll down to their free report options, which include a Facebook Competitive Analysis – comparing the last 2 weeks of data between you and your competitors.

Free Facebook Competitive Analysis Report

You will need to put a minimum of two pages to analyze and you’ll have to jump through a few hoops (steps) to get the report, but you get some good comparative stats (10 reports) for free.

Now you have all the tools to become an expert Facebook spy and stay ahead of the competition. Have some spy tactics of your own? Share them in the comments below!