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Ten ways you can use Twitter for Competitive Intelligence

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Twitter is turning out to be a fantastic tool for Competitive Intelligence professionals: it allows them not only to screen competitors actions, but also to build an effective - and "crowdsourced" scanning of news and trends. Here are the TOP 10 uses of Twitter for anyone who is involved with marketing, market research, business development, and strategic analysis. Ready to jump ?

1- Filtering news

For anyone who has been struggling with setting up alerts, for example with Google Alerts or other search engines, Twitter offers a rapid way to get to you desk the news you need - and have others filter them for you ! Here is the step by step process

  • In Twitter, search for people, experts or accounts who screen news in your industry. For example, to scan news from the banking industry, type "banking news" and several accounts will appear ( i.e. @americanbanking will appear, which is the twitter account for a well regarded magazine in this field . Posts that will appear are all related to news in the industry).
  • Start following those accounts
  • Once you have identified several experts, I suggest you add them all into a list so that you can separate the content according to what you are looking for (i.e. Banking news; banking players; banking trends etc.)

 

You will solve with Twitter the challenge we are all facing: news have to be screened manually, yet few of us have the resources or the personal to do it for us. By shifting that responsibility to the crowd, you access additional relevant ressources online.

 

2- Scanning trends

By systematically identifying experts who follow the industry, or technology you are interested in, you will be able to tap into their knowledge and network. I am for example intensively following the following people who are on top of some of the major consumer and business trends:

  • Venessa Miemis @venessamiemis currently is building a project about "the future of Money" quite relevant in my serach fro trends in the finanical institutions industry
  • Trendwatching @trendwatching  which is tapping into its network of over 7,000 trendspotters worldwide to bring to you a summary of key trends
  • Jack Uldrich in @jumpthecurve a futurist and author
  • A group of individuals @good who try to push the world forward

For others, just browse my list of trend-spotters here

 

3-Building a daily newsletter

Watch this tool ! Paper.li is about to become one of the alternative to newspapers. This amazing tool build a daily newsletter from the comments, articles and blogs of experts. It creates the contentusing all the links (articles) shared in the past 24 hours by all Twitter users on the selected list, or based on a specific keyword.

Once you have built a list of people who twit about a specific subject, paper-li will every day build for you a newsletter that can be send to others (for example, your internal clients, people to whom you would be sending the news you have scanned), or simply post on your Intranet, website or.... on Twitter !

The newsletter can be automated: if you select to create alerts, the daily version will automatically be advertised on Twitter. I also like the format: clean, simple, it reads easily.

Finally, it allows you to track posts that you might have missed during your screening of your lists on Twitter - noone is on 24 hours a day !

Check here an example of my daily newsletter for futurists

4- Following a company or a brand

You have two ways to follow a particular company, or brand, or keyword. First, you can search for the term you are interested in, and save that search for future reference.

 

Alternatively, you can use the # ( note: Twitter addicts call this sign  a hashtag) that corresponds to this term (in our case, #banking ). This search will provide you with more focussed results as those who posted the news have taken the time to notify that this has to do with "banking".


5- Build a network of spotters

As in most of the social tools, the value is not in the data you can access, but in understanding relations between people, and networks. In Twitter, develop a curious mind: once you have found someone whose content interest you, check:

  • Who that person is following : who they get their inspiration from
  • Who follows that person: who else is interested in the same ocntent and therefore might become a good source of inspiration
  • Which list this person is maintaining: who they advise you to look at in this field

Do not forgot there is an unwritten etiquette in twitter to build and maintain a network effectively: you might want to thank people who follow your accounts; connect directly with peeple by sending them a direct message instead of a public one for persona questions / issues etc...

6- Getting answers to specific questions

Why not use twitter as a way to get others to pitch in when you have a specific question ? My experience shows that in order to get a response, you should be specific in what you are asking for. Offering to provide a summary of what you learned from others could be also a good way to share back and thank those who helped.

Nancy Marmolejo explained in her blog how she gets people to answer her on Twitter (You can get the audio and downloadable action guide HERE):

1. Stay curious: As soon as the Tweeples sense a hidden agenda, they're not going to respond. So phrase your questions in a way that keeps the perspective simple and curious.

2. Don't be too vague, either; then you won't stand out. So if your question is simply "How's everyone doing today?" it conveys friendliness but anyone could ask that. You're just a collector of information at this point. Watch who responds, click over to check who they are and what relevance they have to your question.

3. Build trust: Everyone's out there hawkin' something on Twitter now, so naturally the resistance levels in the Twitterverse are rising.Trust builders can ask about the little things in life and not necessarily relate back to your business. In essence, you're giving your followers opportunities to read and respond to you.

4. Avoid questions that sound like veiled pitches

 

 

7- Accessing the best minds in Competitive Intelligence

Although I find that Competitive Intelligence have been shy on Twitter, some inquisitive minds, and future-minded experts already have been leveraging the tool to share some of the best practices, tools and sources of information online. I will writte an article about those experts at a later stage, but here is the summary and my picks today:

In English:


In French:

 

8- Get twitter to answer

Twitter will answer your questions here

9- Organizing yourself - a few last tips

I use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to access my Twitter account. This allows me to see each list as a separate column and rapidly scan the news for each topic everyday

 

Many participants in Competia course ask how I organize my day - Twitter can be time consuming, especially at first. I tend to carve out of my day 1/2 hour everyday to scan my sources on Twitter. Because I have organized each expert accoring to their field of expertise, it does not take much time to go straight away to the relevant information.

If you are starting, take the time to get familiar with the tools, and invest in "listening time": you do not have to be active right away, just learn...

10- Continuing learning...

It took me almost two years to be able to find in Twitter the tool I needed. I guess the key for me was to stop using it as a source of data, which would be risky based on many false information and rumors circulate on the Web. As a link to other experts, and as a lever to get others in your field to collaborate with you however, Twitter is very powerful.

 

Did I miss other applications ? Are you involved in Competitive Intelligence and think you should be listed here ? Add your comments, and I will be happy to retweet them ...

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  • Posted by Claudia Benassi-Faltys said:

    25/10/2010 5:16am (7 years ago) Excellent article, really useful and focused on your target audience, congrats!

    Happy to share it further, on Facebook too, since some -"Twitter reluctant"- people out there could start shifting their mind after reading your article :-)

    Oh, and by the way, thank you for following me on Twitter :-) (since last week).

    PS: a participant to your Lift 10's workshop told me about your inspiring work.

  • Posted by Marie Onäng said:

    22/10/2010 6:12am (7 years ago) Thanks - what an excellent summary of all I wanted to know! I am joining Twitter now!

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