As part of the annual conference of the DCIF (Deutsche Competitive Intelligence Forum) in June 2013, the guide « Competitive Intelligence and Social Media » was presented. In 50 pages, the document concise applications, tools, and processes for the analysis of the competition and the market on the social web.
Even among the so-called « Web generation« , it is always a surprise to meet students, most of them having reached a high level, interested by our Competitive Intelligence training, but completely unaware of the importance taken by social media in the information cycle. One of them being asked if he has a LinkedIn profile summed it up : »We are supposed to be the Web generation, but still, we are not that Web aware« . Of course, they know how to chat through Facebook. But there is more than Facebook in the world of social media. A point some organisations still did not understand. The summer holidays are the appropriate moment to remind some points about social media.
Influencers, first listen
Social media became the turning point of any Company’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Although the link between CRM and Competitive Intelligence is not obvious, CRM is the mean which end is influence. Usually, influence is restricted to lobbying, and social media are considered as THE new way to lobby. This vision of influence is outdated, as one of the Internet revolution is the end of the « top/down » communication and the arising of « bottom/up« . And influence is not only about talking, it also needs listening, as the « Web talks » reveals any organisation its strengths and weaknesses, and at no cost. It may also be a help in innovation, through such new phenomena as co-creation and crowdsourcing.
Therefore, no modern organisation, whatever its size or the products/services offered, can allow to stay away from social media. Some of them still believe that living apart of it is the way to avoid bad buzz and attack on their online reputation. But today, everybody talks to everybody about everything. And, sooner or later, someone will talk about you, whether you are an organisation or a person. A good reason to keep an eye on Internet conversations. Social media is the place where to discuss with the members who are part of the brand’s sucess, be it customers or employees. This can prove useful when facing a crisis, be it a bad buzz or something more serious.
Update your toolbox
But CRM is not the only Department to face social media. The job search world is also concerned. Human Resources are a tool for Competitive Intelligence : finding, developing and retaining quality people are any organisation’s daily bread, as one of Competitive Intelligence’s missions is protecting any organisation’s non-financial assets. Both applicants and recruitment professionals faced, with the birth of new jobs, the use of new tools or new applications of existing tools.
On top of it, some NGO are eager to hear about the organisation’s corporate position on topics like sustainable development or ethics. But not only NGOs, as corporate positions became important for applicants to a job. It is up to the organisation to talk about it.
Reroute to remain
By the time, social media became a new way to collect data online, and not only for Community Managers. Exploring what is being said about a Company is a good way to keep in touch with your competitors. It also allows you to deliver reports on any organisation, be it public or private, or even individual’s online reputation, provided that you have the appropriate methodology to do it quick. This is the first step completed in communication or Web agencies before suggesting the renewal of the organisation’s website.
Social media : like a sieve for the gold digger
Finally, social media are also an interesting way of being kept up to date on a specific topic. Each year, our students have to issue a report on a topic coming from economic actors: governments, businesses or professional organisations. On this occasion, social media is a way for them to identify actors and understand their positions on a systemic basis, as well as experts they will interview to get a global view of the topic.
Of course, there are much more use of social media than those mentionned here. The point was merely to highlight the importance for both organisations and individuals to consider social media as a communication network, as light comes out of conversations.