1) List your key competitors. You know your market and the main players in your space so make a list.
2) List key industry events. You also know your industry has several “main events” each year. These might be conferences, meet-ups, or trade shows. List those events.
3) Most big events from the past several years have their own Twitter hashtag, Facebook page, Pinterest Page and even conversation threads in relevant LinkedIn Groups. Make a note of those.
4) Search SlideShare.net, Scribd and other presentation / document sharing sites for presentations from your competitors at those events. See our list of “sources and signals” for a great starter of places to visit for social competitive intelligence research.
5) Make a note of how many presentations your competitors had at each event and the number of different presenters they had delivering those keynote and breakout sessions.
6) Make a note of whether or not there is a “visit booth #12345” in the presentations.
7) Now you’ve got your data, start the synthesis.
- Estimate a cost of $500 – $1000 per presenter per conference.
- Estimate a cost of $10,000 per small booth at a trade show and up to $100,000 for large conference sponsorship.
- Remember that you’re not trying to re-create your competitor’s budget, rather you’re trying to determine if they’re ramping up to a big announcement or simply staying in maintenance mode or struggling to stay above water.
- Did they have more presentations, more staff, bigger booth, new sponsorships this year than they have in years past?
- Who is tweeting with the event hashtag from your competitor? Who is re-tweeting them? Who are they re-tweeting? What are they saying on their Facebook Page? What are they saying on the event’s Facebook page?
8) Combine the data you’ve overlaid to produce the intelligence. Is your competitor ramping up their spending? Is the increased spending significant for them? If they’re a small or medium sized company or a large company that has been struggling recently, a big marketing spend is a significant flag for upcoming activity. Remember that employees will tweet, post and blog about items they know and that they think will help the company. So a competitor’s retweet of a keynote speaker’s point may hold much more competitive significance than mere interest.
9) What should you do about it? Is there a way you can pre-empt your competitor’s announcements? Is there a bandwagon that you should be on as well? Do you need to take a legal action? Speed up your own R&D? Or maybe just continue to pay attention?
10) Compile the key points, synthesis and recommendations into an easy to digest report, dashboard or brief. Make sure that every point you make is backed up by hard data that you found. If you say your competitor is ramping up for a big product launch because of increased budget spends on conferences and increased chatter then make sure you can show that there was actually an increase over previous years. Strive for Actionable Intelligence and you will bring traditional CI into the new reality of social business.