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Competitive Intelligence Software Tips: Add Twitter to your Bag of Tools

September 2010

Twitter is now an essential resource for gathering competitor intelligence . In this article, we’ll provide a few hints to help integrate Twitter into your competitive information gathering process. These tactics will help cut through the noise to gain valuable insights on the competition.

Follow tweets with industry hashtags.

If you’re new to Twitter, one of the most useful basics is learning to use, search, and monitor hashtags. Tweets are categorized and sent to specific groups of users based on their hashtags (keywords or topics preceded by a pound symbol.) The first step in learning to follow relevant tweets is to discover the hashtags associated with your competitors and industry. Product names, company names, and industry terms are all possible hashtags. Create nicely formatted hashtag search lists in order to follow specific tweets using third-party tools for Twitter like TweetDeck. Once you configure the lists, all relevant tweets will appear in your dashboard instantly. Review these lists to stay informed about customer complaints and other rumors about your competition or industry as a whole.

Seek official and unofficial Twitter accounts for your competitors and their employees.

The next step toward developing a strategy for monitoring the competition on Twitter is to find specific people who may reveal valuable competitive information. Company websites often link to their corporate Twitter accounts and sometimes even provide a link to the accounts of executives or key marketing professionals. While it is important to keep track of your competitor’s official messaging, you can use these accounts as a jumping off point for finding other employees, corporate partners, and customers on Twitter. To find these “unofficial” sources for competitive intelligence, check the list of followers for the corporate accounts. Tweets from the unofficial company news resources often provide more valuable competitive data than the edited corporate tweets.

Collect stats on the Twitter habits of your competitors.

To understand their social media strategy and assess whether it’s working, keep track of how your competitor is using Twitter. How often do they tweet? What are they promoting? Where are they linking? This type of analysis will allow you to see what’s working for the company and where there are holes in the strategy. With this competitive data in hand, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your own social media and Twitter strategy to the needs of your audience, without making the mistakes of your competitors.

New services for Twitter are launched every day; some of the most popular options are TweetDeck, TweetScan, and Bit.ly. Learn to use these third-party tools to help streamline your monitoring process, but don’t hesitate to dig into Twitter itself to increase the reach of your competitive intelligence software monitoring process.
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