The soft and fuzzy side of social media dominates the spotlight – social media is about about having conversations, engaging with people, and building relationships.
If there’s a dark side of social media that isn’t mentioned often, it’s how social media can also be used for competitive intelligence to pursue a rival’s customers or potential customers.
It’s not that this activity is evil or nefarious, it’s just that it’s not a happy, kumbya kind of thing.
When you are looking for weaknesses among rivals such as complaints about their products and services, and inquiries from people who might be interested in what they’re selling, it means operating in the social media shadows.
Truth be told, there’s as much value to focusing on gathering competitive intelligence as there is monitoring your own products, services and customers.
Customers are talking about their desires, needs and issues on Twitter, Facebook and blogs so why not take advantage of all this information to create a strategy built on leveraging the weaknesses of competitors. If your rivals are offering a window of opportunity, it makes complete sense to use social media to take advantage of it.
So, what are the basics for collecting competitive intelligence? Here’s a few tips:
1. Monitor popular keywords within your industry. For home renovators, it could be “renovations”, “home improvements”, “DIY repairs” or “home projects”
2. Keep a steady eye on competitors to see what’s being said about them. In particular, focus on people who are complaining about bad products, service or customer service. Then, step in by offering advice or help, while shying away from trying to sell them something.
3. Look for conversations about trends within your industry. For home renovators, it could be chatter about new kitchens, bathrooms or energy-efficient appliances. Then, you can participate in the conversations by providing advice, insight and recommendations.
There’s a goldmine of competitive intelligence within the social media landscape. Spending some time on the dark side could generate some good business opportunities.