February 22nd, 2012

Competitive Intelligence: 5 things you can learn about your competition through social media

How often do you keep up with your competition? Once a year? Quarterly? Most businesses track their rivals through trade publications, reports from the sales force and/or observing marketing tactics like ads, billboards, radio and television commercials or online campaigns.

The problem with these tactics is it really isn’t competitive intelligence. It’s old news. Businesses are reluctant to share any relevant news with trade publications any more. Why should they give away their secrets to the competition? By the time your sales force shares information with your marketing department, it’s too late. Besides, shouldn’t your marketing department be giving your sales team information it could use on a monthly basis? You may have collected all the collateral from your rivals’ last marketing campaign, but do you know if it actually worked?

Social media is a fluid platform full of millions of posts each day. These posts are full of opinions not only about your business, but your competition as well. How would you like to get a weekly or monthly SWOT analysis on your competition?

Below is a list of questions any brand can answer if they have the right listening tools and people who know how to use those tools to pull out the important information and deliver it in a package you can use.

 Competitive Environment

  1. Who are our major and minor competitors? We all have a list of our competition. The list is usually compiled once a year for a sales meeting, marketing plan or corporate retreat. This list needs to be updated monthly not annually. Know who your true competition is, don’t guess based on old information.
  2. What are people saying about my competitionDo you really know what your customers are saying about your competition? This would be good information to know before it’s too late. If people are unhappy with your competition, you need to know ASAP to take advantage.
  3. What are they saying about my businessFind out what people are saying about your business. Not just on your Facebook and Twitter feed, but everywhere. People are talking about your business on blogs, in forums, social bookmarks, Wikipedia, through videos, comment sections on news articles and much more. You need to know what’s working and what isn’t as it happens.
  4. Whom are we compared to? Are people comparing your company’s products or services to the industry leader or someone else? Know exactly who your competition is.
  5. Is their current campaign working? If not, why and how can my company take advantage? What if you could know that your competition’s current marketing campaign isn’t working? What if you could have that information in time to capitalize on it?

The internet is full of information that can give your business a competitive advantage. Smart businesses are going to use this information to gain market share and give customers what they want. The key to competitive intelligence is knowing what to listen for and how to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your marketing strategy. How well do you know your competition? 

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I blog about my passions, social media, public relations, sports and media.

I have over 19 years of public relations and marketing experience developing and directing a wide variety of communication, social media, media relations and marketing programs. This experience includes marrying traditional marketing tactics with social media tools.