Guide: Upgrade Your Competitive Intelligence Using Social Data

Knowledge has never been so democratic.

Anyone with internet access is fully equipped to take online courses designed by the world’s leading institutions. Britannica has largely been replaced by Wikipedia, allowing anyone with an internet connection to instantly access an immense library of facts and information.

In a way, social media has done to opinions what Wikipedia has done to facts.

Namely, anyone with internet can now freely voice their opinions into the online world. The effects have been monumental – social media has facilitated some of the fastest, largest, and most coordinated public awareness and social movement campaigns the world has ever seen.

Businesses, now more than ever, remain wary of the nearly instantaneous retribution that viral negative press can deliver. Certainly, the collective watchdog on social media has altered the way businesses conduct themselves.

Yet businesses should welcome the democratization of opinions.

Companies no longer need to commission expensive, time-consuming surveys or traditional market research.

Social media analytics permits businesses to immediately access their consumers’ genuine opinions about any topic at the scale of mass surveys and the granularity of focus groups.

For competitive intelligence, that provides opportunities to information that businesses have never had before. Every business is entitled to the same level of information.

In other words, Nike can see just as many public tweets about Nike as New Balance can. That provides an unparalleled amount of liberty for competitive analysis.

In our most recent guide on Competitive Intelligence, we outline a few of the best practices for those using social media to understand more about their competitors.

Many ways to look at it

The types of social media analyses available are as varied as the questions a business can ask.

For the analyst that understands a business’s problem, is familiar with social media research and is able to find creative ways, social media data can inform any decision.

The guide covers 11 different areas of analysis, broken down into five overarching categories:

While the guide cannot possibly capture the vast number of ways businesses can analyze and understand social data, it provides a strong framework from which analysts can begin to structure their social competitive intelligence programs.

A new angle

One of the goals of the Competitive Intelligence guide is to introduce businesses to new types of analyses.

The product positioning and associations section examines the terms, adjectives or products that consumers associate with brands.

Consider soda giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The below analysis examines how often each product is mentioned alongside five different food items.

Coke is more often referenced alongside burgers and french fries, while Pepsi has a comparative advantage alongside pizza. Such analysis might help businesses understand how consumers think about their products where they are relevant.

Another example of competitive product positioning research will explore the types of adjectives people use to describe a product, revealing the way consumers think about brands.

The below analysis examines how often certain toothpaste brands are paired alongside a set of specific adjectives.

Clearly, Crest and Colgate are competing for the most relevant toothpaste term: whitening.

However, Crest also maintains dominance in the health category. Meanwhile, smaller brands such as Sensodyne have aimed to build its name under a more niche topic: Sensitivity.

Analyzing product associations can be a powerful way of understanding consumer perceptions, but is often overlooked.

Delivering intelligence

We also address a common pitfall of any social media analysis: too often great research will live and die with the analyst.

Finding intelligent ways of delivering insights to the right people at the right time is paramount in order for any information to be actionable.

The guide covers three crucial tools for delivering competitor intelligence:

Democratizing opinions

Social media has democratized public opinion, allowing anyone and everyone to loudly voice their beliefs on any person, idea, or business.

The effects of such a change have been tremendous.

With so any ideas and opinions publicly available, and the barrier to access so low, businesses are equipped to perform many novel types competitive intelligence analysis – they just need the tools and guides to know how.