Using social media to spy on your competition

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In this article of Dov Hirsch (Guest Blogger- Nashville Business Journal), the journalist try t explain to us how social media can be used to spy on your competition.

For example, small and large organizations can gain short- and long-term insight into what competitors are doing, and other examples of how using social media in competitive intelligence process.

It’s a very interesting view of this subject which becomes more and more important for nowadays societies.

Competitive intelligence is all about knowing and understanding what the competition is up to. Some companies go to great lengths and spend loads of dough on corporate espionage, just for a glimpse into the other guy’s Next Big Thing. Knowing what’s out there is about leveraging information to do business better. But before companies spend money or skirt the law when it comes to competitive intelligence, they shouldn’t overlook plenty of valuable information already in plain site.

By using social media to keep tabs on your competition, small and large organizations can gain short- and long-term insight into what competitors are doing, how they interact with their customers and how to beat them to the punch.

Listening is as important as speaking. Gather and analyze information from conversations taking place around the competition’s products and services. For instance, are they offering specials, sales or promotions? How are they tracking? Particularly for consumer goods, Facebook is increasingly used to solicit product reviews from a network of trusted fans. The opportunity to turn fans into promoters is tremendous. Competition is about jumping on these opportunities.

Maximizing one’s social media competitive intelligence can often come down to timing. Smartphones have effectively eliminated excuses for not knowing what the competition’s social media message is at any given time. Twitter is especially useful for these purposes. Following tweets allows companies to get up-to-the-minute notices on what competitors are talking about and, perhaps more importantly, how it is being re-tweeted by followers. Companies can take this a step further by identifying their competition’s followers and who they follow. It’s an easy way to see if you are missing opportunities — or if they are.

While Twitter can provide great snapshots of information geared to those with a shorter attention span, understanding a company’s long-form presence has its benefits, too. Blogs are home to in-depth information. And if the competition is using their blog correctly, they offer a one-stop shop to see what information is going out and how their readers are commenting on it. You even get a sense of the type of relationship a company has with its customers: if they encourage feedback, if they respond to comments and, if so, how and how quickly. A company blog can offer many things in the world of information, not least of which is the tone of the conversation between company and customer.

Companies often forget to take advantage of all the things that social media offers. Listening and observing to one’s own customers can do wonders. Sitting in on the competition’s conversations – well, that’s just smart.”

Read the full article on Nashville Business Journal

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