Be (almost) Like Bond with Social Media Monitoring
Competitive intelligence. It’s not as slinky as Emma Peel. It’s not as sexy as your favorite Bond. And it’s definitely not as thrilling as a car chase down the winding streets of a tiny European village. In fact, if it is that thrilling, you’re probably doing something illegal! What competitive intelligence (CI) does do is help decision makers identify risks and opportunities before they become apparent.
Social media monitoring is becoming an ideal tool to assess the competition and their stakeholders. For example, by engaging in online listening there’s no need to wait for the monthly issue of the industry journal to find out what Brand Y up to. Social media, such as blogs, microblogs (Twitter) and wikis, provide real-time competitive intelligence. As a result, you’ll start hearing chatter as soon as consumers, journalists, or other stakeholders reveal that a new product is a flop or a venerated CEO is suddenly leaving.
Social media is an effective online listening tool that helps enterprises listen to the external players associated with the competition. Some of the questions to ask as you’re listening include:
- Do they have an established presence on the right social networks?
- How much chatter surrounds their brand?
- What’s the nature of that chatter…good, bad, or ugly?
- Does chatter reveal deficiencies in their products or marketing?
- Does the competition share information through blogs? How many subscribers do they have?
- What are they not doing to engage customers? Is there an opportunity for your brand to step in?
Marketer Heather Rubesch notes that data mining is one way to avoid embarrassing CI failures, such as launching a product just after the competition has launched a nearly identical one. For example, online listening through news websites and social networks can reveal basic information about impending launches, new or dissolving partnerships, or regulatory battles. Sites like LinkedIn can provide insight into company information, such as revenue streams or employee make up.
As Tim Walker suggests, online listening allows firms to create a narrative about the competition— one that can help your brand become more responsive to consumers, and, in turn, build a bottom-line friendly relationship. On second thought, maybe competitive intelligence is pretty sexy after all.