Rachel Happe is hosting this weeks #socialmedia session. I bring her up for a reason, which you’ll soon see. For those of you that are unaware of what #socialmedia is, I will quickly explain and then get to my point. Every Tuesday at Noon EST, Jason Breed of Neighborhood America and myself host a one hour Twitter session around the business of social media. Every week we have a different host to moderate a session wrapped around some of the hottest social media issues revolving around business. They’re job? To challenge and question and probe participants to reach higher in their assumptions about what social media is. The list of people that have hosted over the past few months is like a who’s who of social media practitioners. They include Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Toby Bloomberg, Lee Odden, Mack Collier, Danny Brown, David Alston and Beth Harte, to name a few.
Now more to my point. In one of Rachel’s recent posts on her new project blogsite The Community Roundtable, which I highly suggest you check out, she does a snap shot view of how community managers use Twitter. She highlites Connie Bensen, Dirk Shaw, Guy Martin, and herself. In each case, we see how each person manages to monitor the twit streams in their space. In every case, they all manage to monitor the sandbox or boxes in which they play. Why? Because it gives them more information, knowledge and data. And the best part, it’s free and for the most part passive.
Call it competitive intelligence or call it consumer intelligence, call it whatever intelligence you want; but don’t dismiss the value of this information. On the surface it may not deliver the troika that I constantly talk about when talking about hard ROI in social media- make money, save money, or increase equity but if I were going to place a value on competitive intelligence I would say, to use a few sports analogies- It’s the 6th man in basketball, the utility club in golf, the setter in volleyball, the pitcher with the rubber arm in baseball, or the slotback in football. Simply put, don’t underestimate or discount the value of competitive intelligence.
To not take advantage of competitive intelligence that is freely available is more like giving the competition a constant headstart. Or better yet, if you are a hitter in baseball, you’re starting with a strike before you even step in the batters box.
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