Jinfo BlogForming a Social Media Research Strategy for Competitive Intelligence

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By Claire Whayman

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Social media has enhanced the information professional's research toolkit. Freelance information professional Claire Whayman examines the importance of developing a social media research strategy for competitive intelligence, covering tools from Facebook to Twitter, and offers tips on best practice as well as key points to avoid.


The advent of social media has added another useful tool to the information professional’s toolkit. Competitive intelligence can now be readily obtained from social media sites which facilitate real time sharing of opinions, ideas, products and services. Marketing communications posted on social media sites can be swiftly circulated by consumers. They can be commented on almost immediately, providing an instant insight into a competitor’s strategy and its potential client base.

Maximising Analytical Time... Minimising Research

A good social media competitive intelligence research strategy helps minimise the time spent on research and helps maximise the time spent on analysis. It should provide the organisation with the knowledge to make strategic decisions and to help it stand out from its competitors.

The recommended steps are:

  • Define the companies, individuals, products, services, industries and markets to research
  • Identify the social media resources with which your competitors are engaged
  • Select a social media aggregator tool like Hootsuite or Trackur and set up a dashboard
  • Analyse the results. Look for any trends and opinions which may indicate that further research is required.
  • Integrate the research results with other, more traditional, forms of competitive intelligence. Look for contradictions, research gaps and additional questions that may need research and analysis.
  • Disseminate your findings throughout the business as appropriate.

Monitor Developments in Social Media Platforms

Tracking developments in social media platforms will ensure that the resources being monitored remain relevant.

A readers’ poll conducted by enewsletter firm SmartBrief indicated that, as at May 2013, organisations using social media are still using the sites they used before 2013. According to GlobalWebIndex research as reported on eMarketer, Q1 2013 results show Facebook was still the most popular social media platform. Twitter, ranking 4th in global popularity, was the fastest-growing social network. 

Existing social media sites frequently add new features and tools which alter the ways in which the resources can be used. The information professional must remain aware of such changes.

Has Your Competitive Intelligence Sprung a Leak?

Be aware that your competitors are also conducting competitive intelligence research. Understand your social media presence, how it impacts on clients, colleagues, partner organisations, and competitors. Abide by social media etiquette. 

And finally, ensure that social media communications with your own customers do not convey information to competitors that you do not wish to make available.

FreePint Subscribers can log in now to read Claire's in-depth article about using Social Media for Competitive Intelligence.

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