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Abstract

Social media offers a gold-mine of timely, topical and useful competitive intelligence. Consider all the ways employees and customers exchange information about companies online, and then set a strategy for non-traditional sources of CI insight. This is a short version of a longer article on the same topic available as part of the FreePint Subscription. The longer article provides many more approaches to using social media for competitive intelligence. Subscribers can log in to view it now.

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The rise of the Web 2.0 has opened virtual goldmines for intelligence analysts. One big factor is that customer interaction has come into play. Contrary to the static Web 1.0, where the flow of information was mainly a one-way street, this new dynamic make-up of the web allows consumers to chime in: Social media, mining communities, social Q&A, you name it. And while this article is mainly directed at business intelligence analysts, these tools might also be valuable in other areas of Intel.

Not only customers voice their opinion about new merchandise online. On every social media platform, be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (to name just a few) you will find employees talking about the company, its products, its work environment and much more. LinkedIn allows you to see when people left the company, where they went and so on. Sometimes, CEOs or other senior managers will post information that may seem insignificant to them but will have a huge impact on your research.

Who's hiring?

Job postings may be one avenue you've not yet fully explored for competitive intelligence.  While established companies might have good HR people that manage to provide details about a position in a very general way, newer and less experienced companies usually leak some information that may well be of value to you.

Instead of searching every single job site, you can use Indeed and SimplyHired to see where the company is advertising. This aggregation can help you determine a region that the company plans to expand into and what marketing strategies they might employ in this particular region. Job postings can also provide some unexpected insights, such as the ability to discover with which vendors a company partners. If a lot of ads mention experience with Cisco servers ... well, you get the picture.

Go visual

And speaking of getting the picture, have you ever thought about YouTube or Slideshare being a good source for competitive intelligence? If not, then you’ll be in for a surprise. Remember: some things are not written down. And some very interesting things are captured incidentally, e.g. a conversation at a conference or side chatter during a panel. For example searching SlideShare for a company may reveal some useful intelligence contained in a presentation a product manager or executive has delivered.  YouTube may reveal offhand comments captured at an event or an impromptu interview. Likewise your searches will surface what a company has been distributing recently, where they may have appeared, what they are promoting.

These are just two approaches to tapping into Web 2.0 information for competitive intelligence. You'll want to continuously experiment with new tools to help you explore what the increasingly public and social web has to offer. 

 

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