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Social Media for Competitive Intelligence
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Social Media for Competitive Intelligence


Social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and Slideshare can provide valuable input into your competitive intelligence projects. Read this presentation to learn how.

Social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and Slideshare can provide valuable input into your competitive intelligence projects. Read this presentation to learn how.

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  • Very quickly cover assessing the potential of using social media for CI and talk about some of the basics of formulating a social media collection plan.Then we’ll dive in to some detail on specific social media platforms. We’ll spend some time on LinkedIn and Twitter. We’ll also touch on two other valuable sources: Slideshare and Quora.
  • I begin all my presentations on CI methods with a reminder to tie your research and analysis back to your team’s objectives, Key Intelligence Topics or requirements. I’m a firm believer in planing CI activities based on stakeholder’s requirements.The critical question for capturing CI from social media are related to who holds the information that will ultimately support your KITs and under what circumstances and in what platforms they might make that information evident.I can’t imagine a scenario where social media will completely replace other CI research methods.
  • Primary = interviews, possibly including elicitation methodsSecondary = research in publications, studies, etc.Social media is a hybrid of primary and secondary research:Gives you a view into thought, opinions and expertise of specific individuals like primary researchYou use some of the research methods and tools, and enjoy some of the economies, of secondary Internet researchReliability and credibility?Use SMto support traditional primary research. Example: Roger Phelps using LinkedIn (CI Podcast)Elicitation via SM is a conversation for another day.
  • If you’re just starting to use social media for your CI function, there are some specific pieces of advice I want to offer.DIY first. Learn before you buy software or services.http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-top-competitors-to-radian6The best way to get started is to learn how to use the search and monitoring functions that are a part of each platform. That’s what we’ll spend much of our time doing here.Rather than start a new project it’s probably more useful to look at existing projects or deliverables and figure out how you can use social media to increase the information value or improve the efficiency of those projects.As with all sources a collection plan will help you focus and avoid falling down rabbit holes. In your first projects I suggest iterating on your process and plan as you climb up the learning curve.
  • Following on to our KITs discussion, we can pick up the questions and develop our collection plan to choose our social media platform(s) where we will focus our efforts, how we will search and monitor, what and who we will search and monitor.Are we a B2C or a B2B company? Does this make it more or less likely that we will find what we need in CI.One myth you might hear is that B2B firms don’t use social media. Indeed they do.Firms use social media for much more than marketing. Recruiting and customer service are two other important applications that can be supported by social media.Individuals also use social media, so competitors employees, customers and partners are using social media for their own personal purposesIf we’re in a B2C firm, how does what we’ll see from CI differ from what we would capture from more traditional market research methods?Information will be real timeInformation will be raw, emotional (grow a thick skin)Volume will likely be very high on some platforms that give customers voice, so the collection effort will need to be very targeted
  • Twitter is a platform for users to share short messages with all other users and the general public. Twitter defaults to public sharing. >200 million total users and between 40 and 70 million regular monthly users (http://www.quora.com/How-many-monthly-active-users-does-Twitter-have).B2B and B2C firms use Twitter for direct marketing, though specific marketing practices will differ between these categories, All firms will use Twitter for PR. Twitter has become an important platform for customer service, Firms also using Twitter for recruiting.Individuals on Twitter! Twitter is a powerful tool to find people based on shared interest or sentiment. These individuals include company employees, industry experts and customers. Twitter users want to establish their personal brand, prove their expertise and readily complain about products and services (both yours and your competitors).
  • One of the interesting things about Twitter are some of the functionality that was not designed into the system but emerged through participant behavior. Placing an ampersand or at symbol before a user’s Twitter handle brings that message specifically to their attention. Others on Twitter will see the message, but the person (or company) you are trying to contact will definitely see this.The @ message should not be confused with the direct message. These messages are not public. You can only send direct messages to Twitter users who have chosen to follow you on Twitter.The hashtag is used to associate your messages with an on-going, multi-party conversation on a given topic or relate them to a specific event. This is the # before a (usually short) identified keyword. The benefit of the hashtag is that it is easy to find and aggregate all of the topics related to the topic of interest regardless of who is sharing them.The Re-tweet is relatively straightforward. This indicates that a user read something, liked it, and wanted to share it with their own followers.
  • Twitter’s advanced search makes it relatively easy to use it for CI research. You don’t even need a Twitter account to use its search tools. You can also create RSS feeds of your searches to basically get automated updates.When you’re developing a strategy based on keywords, I am a big believer of creating lists. I always have lots of lists for my Internet research. Lists of competitor company names, industry-specific terminology, product brand names, names of executives in mine and other firms and so on.Examples: Ethernet, Platform as a Service, IPv6Note that any given twitter search doesn’t capture everything that has ever been said on Twitter about a topic. The search is intended to give a perspective on the relatively recent Twitter stream. The basic Twitter search only goes back a few weeks, and this illustrates how Twitter is intended to be a real-time platform.
  • Twitter.com/companyname (example: Google, note the verified account ID)Listorious: example: IBMTwellow example: PfizerNote how to evaluate the applicability of each of the accounts in search results. Twello seems like junk sneaks in to some searches.


  • 1. The Competitive Intelligence Potential of Social Media
    August Jackson
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 2. Our Two-Part Agenda for This Webinar
    Should we add social media to our CI sources?
    If yes, then how?
    How can we get started quickly using the leading social media tools?
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 3. Examine KITs for Potential CI Value
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Are they likely to be sharing that information in some form through social media?
  • 4. Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 5. Start Small and Be Specific
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 6. Reverse Engineer your Collection Plan
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Whether you’re doing active elicitation or passive monitoring, remember your CI ethics.
  • 7. Twitter asks users “What are you doing?”
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Official Business Presence
  • Do you speak Twitter?
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Public message directed towards a specific Twitter user, e.g. @8of12
    Hashtags are public messages attended to be associated with a specific theme, topic or event. The hashtag makes it easy for interested parted to track the conversation, e.g. #scipsmcifor this webinar
    Retweet: I liked your message, and I am passing it along
  • 13. Twitter offers great search functions!
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    You do not need to have your own Twitter account
    Make lists of search terms
    Create RSS feeds of your searches to automate monitoring
  • 17. Find individuals you want to track
    Look for competitors’ official accounts
    Look in their marketing materials
    Search for lists of competitor employees or industry experts on Listorious
    Search for mentions of competitors’ names and industry terms in Twitter user’s profiles
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 18. LinkedIn: the professional social network
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Information about professionals in resume-like profiles
    Company and industry groups for active discussions
    Aggregate user data for company statistics and information
  • 19. Get to know LinkedIn’s advanced search
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
  • 20. Company profiles have a wealth of detail
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Hiring, promotions and departures
    Open positions
    Remember that company data is based on aggregated employee self-reporting
    You can also “follow” companies of interest to track them over time
  • 21. Quora: Question and Answer
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Users ask questions and other users answer them
    Sometimes industry and company-specific topics
    Users vote up their favorite answers
    Based on real identities, so you can assess respondents expertise
    Follow topics and users of interest
  • 22. Slideshare: Post your PowerPoint Here
    Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Users post PowerPoints to the site
    • Easy sharing
    • 23. Self-promotion
    • 24. Sales and marketing
    Use the same keywords from your Twitter search list
  • 25. Twitter hash tag: #scipsmci
    Thank you!
    August Jackson
    august (at) augustjackson (dot) net
    Twitter @8of12