While social media has proven to be a valuable resource for interacting with customers, it’s also become a popular way to keep track of the competition.

A new study conducted by Digimind — a competitive intelligence software provider — found that almost eight out of 10 companies use social media sites to monitor and discover information about their competitors.

Digimind surveyed marketing directors, strategy planners, and business development managers across a variety of sectors, including the services industry, IT and telecom, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and healthcare.

LinkedIn proved most valuable with 69.4 percent of companies using the platform to legally spy on competitors. Twitter followed with 62.5 percent, far ahead of Facebook and Google+ at 47.2 percent and 35.2 percent, respectively.

Although you can track public activity across these platforms easily, Facebook actually takes you deeper into your competitors’ Insights, which can help you understand how they’re performing on the social network.

Previously, the only data available to non-admins was total Likes and People Talking About This. After an update in March, anyone visiting your Page will also see additional metrics, including Most Popular City and Age Group.

Companies aren’t just using social media to keep an eye on daily engagement. Unsurprisingly, the data also revealed that social media is helpful when tracking industry developments and consumer trends — which can be just as valuable as knowing what your competitors are up to.

While we don’t recommend that you ditch your daily responsibilities in favor of corporate espionage, it could be helpful to keep a pulse on what’s happening within your industry. After all, a bit of healthy competition never hurts.

[Via: AllTwitter, Image credit: Dave Fayram]