Using Social Media for Competitive Intelligence

Market/Competitive Intelligence SIG

May 8, 2013

By Jacqueline Madarang, Marketing Technology Manager
     Best Best & Krieger LLP


SoMe for CIWhat is competitive intelligence (CI)? It is gathering or compiling information, which can include competitor data, industry trends, demographic information, pricing – almost anything you can find that empowers you to anticipate and face challenges head on.

Why social media? In legal marketing, there are many ways that we can use social media for competitive intelligence profiling.

LinkedIn. Many companies now have company pages where you can see their new hires and departures (viewable via Insights tab). Wouldn’t it be nice to know about these updates before anyone else in the firm? Pay attention to the background of your competition’s new hires as it may provide you with insight into on what/who they are looking to hire. Maybe they are building a new practice group. Connect with clients and monitor their connections. You will probably see your competitors/prospects’ connections (if open) as well as some of their activities. Pay attention to who is a connection to who. Legal marketers can also use LinkedIn as an expanded CRM tool and see “who knows who” if they are connected to attorneys in the firm. For example, attorney John Smith may be connected to a top prospect on LinkedIn, but no one else in the firm may be aware of that. That would be good information to know and may come in handy if an interview takes place.

Twitter. Twitter, with the exception of Direct Messages (DM) is an open forum. All tweets or conversations are searchable and cached by search engines. A simple twitter search can provide you with your competitors/prospects’ mentions on Twitter. This can provide you some valuable insights into on how they interact with others in this space. Creating lists or columns of people, companies, and relevant keywords that you’d like to follow is another way to stay ahead and filter through all of the noise on Twitter. I would suggest using a dashboard to stay organized. You can also see Twitter users’ followers, who they are following, and their lists (if non-private).

Kevin O’Keefe from LexBlog summarized in a blog post last year why LinkedIn and Twitter remain the top two social media channels for gathering CI and industry trends.

Facebook. Facebook company pages are full of CI. From Facebook, you can discover who likes or shares posts, see comments that have been posted and how the company responds to the comments posted by their fans. You can also see the number of shares, likes, and comments posted on each post. And if you analyze a company’s Facebook page, you can identify the most trending topic based on engagement from fans. and Google Alerts. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the first to know when someone pins a photo from your website? This is a new tool that will notify you when someone pins a photo from your website to Pinterest. And of course, use Google Alerts for tracking firm mentions and other relevant keywords that you want to track. Google delivers this to you via email or RSS.

How to keep organized? Use Evernote and create a notebook for each competitor/prospect and file away each clipping you may find to your notebook. Share your notebook with colleagues so that they can add to it as well. Evernote is great as you can access it from your desktop, iPad, and smartphone.

There is a wealth of information online and finding the right tools to get organized could not only provide real-time, quantitative data that you can incorporate into your competitive strategy, but could lead to better decision-making.

What competitive intelligence gathering tools do you use? Feel free to leave a comment and I’d be more than happy to add it to this list.

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