SWIFT Source and Signal Table – Updated

Competitive Intelligence and Business Intelligence Professionals Must Learn to Incorporate Deep web and Social media data into their evaluation and findings.  BloomThink’s SWIFT – social web intelligence framework and tactics – program helps companies do just that.

Take a look at our Source and Signal table below.  This is just a few of the sites and tools that can be used by the SWIFT practitioner or any savvy CI or BI professional to help bring meaning and context to the flood of data that is out there.  This is how you create actionable intelligence rather than simply another data report!

Source Signal
Feed Stitcher Site, blog and PR aggregation. http://feedstitch.com/
Yahoo Pipes Graphical tool for combining web sources. http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/
SpyFu Competitor Keyword Analysis
Search Monitor monitor competitors, affiliates and trade markets
Google Trends Traffic and GEO trends
FeedCompare Compare numbers (strength) of your subscribers vs your competitors
GroupHigh Monitoring and tracking for your market. Turned around it can deliver keen insight on the competitive marketplace
MySiteGrader website grader Grade your website against your competitor’s sites for the keywords you select. http://www.mysitegrader.com/
socialmention Social media, sentiment, top users, top keywords, top hashtags, top sources.
Addict-o-matic 25 sources for aggregation including RSS feeds, Bing, Google, Google Blog, Flickr, WordPress, YouTube, Technorati
NetVibes Fee based dashboard
Northern Light Search Research aggregator and dashboard
Wildfire Social Monitor Corporate & Market ComparisonsOverall sentiment analysis – trending market perspectives and background context on whether your market views you positively, negatively or ambivalently
LinkedIn Network & Relationships– degrees of separation, network reach, geography, work history, education, competitor connections in network

Competitor Projects – competitor staff areas of responsibility
Competitor Roadmap – job openings and hiring trends as leading indicatorsIP Tips, Drips & FUD – group participation, interaction, surveys & polls participation, publications & patents on profiles.

SlideShare IP Tips, Drips & FUD – marketing focus, roadmap, conference participation, travel & marketing budget (e.g. booth # listed in presentation –> 10K minimum spend), viewing / reach stats, best practices, trends
Facebook Profile Development – targeted likes, hobbies etc of specific person and/or his/her network.  Photos, places, apps, travel conferences etc.
Network & Relationships –
 Degrees of separation, network reach, connections

Competitor Strength  – Likes, Engagement Level, Sentiment, Content Strategy, Effective vs ineffective messaging

Twitter via tools like follwerwonk, NexaMe, Twiangulate, trendsmap.com etc. Profile Development – targeted likes, hobbies etc of specific person and/or his/her network.  Photos, places, apps, travel conferences etc.
Geographic Trends Mapping – for overall market awareness in specific countries and cities (e.g. popular & breaking twitter trends in Shenzhen, Beijing or Nanjing)
Network & Relationships –
RT’s, favorites,travel, interests, influencers,
IP Tips, Drips & FUD – find followers of competitors and co-opt them for counter intelligence or feed FUD
Fierce Medical Devices News Feed – tagged with St. Jude Medical, tagged with Boston Scientific, tagged with Medtronic, tagged with X,
Google Alerts News Feed – tailored alerts for anything Google crawlers pick up.  Dial in sensitivity based on scope of query.
Klout, PeerIndex, EmpireAvenue Marketing & Product – reveal competitor buzz building efforts, enable rapid response.
Profile Development – identify Industry influencers and gravity wells
Google Keywords + Trends Marketing & Product – Trends & Buzz Building.  Keywords & related terms collected then entered into google trends
ThinkWithGoogle.com/insights Market Trends – Research library, primary research, consumer insights
Advanced Search Engine Work
Using Copernic Agent or similar
Profile Development –  [“full target name” +GeographicLocation:website ] narrows in on specific name at specific geography on specific website
IP Tips, Drips & FUD – filetype: search for PDFs and PPTs, allintitle:,allinurl:
Published Journal Search Marketing & product- current trends & focus areas tailored to industry audiences

Profile Development – track authorship and citation trail of published works by targets

Indeed.com/jobtrends Market Trends – hiring as a leading indicator of focus and industry movement
Scribd IP Tips, Drips & FUD – published and available research, papers & presentations
Competition Blogs, Forums & Community Profile DevelopmentIP Tips, Drips & FUDMarketing & Product
Deep Email Miner IP Tips, Drips & FUD – internal email social network mapping to explore nascent social connections buried in an email corpus.
Deep Web Analysis using Maltego, Casefile, Social Network Visualizer, AutoMap, scirus.com, brightplanet or similar Marketing & IT Ecosystem – discover associated IP addresses and TLDs (top level domains), discovery and association engine.
ClipBoard.com WebClipping manual aggregation dashboard tool
OutWit Technologies – http://www.outwit.com Web Scraper programmatic human triggered web scraper for larger data volume collection.  Can export collections to files or SQL
Newsle.com Human Data Feed Aggregator – follow users who are in a network to see what they’re up to.
Pinterest Analysis Tools: PinAlerts Pinpuff Pinerly is good for tracking analytics data on Pinterest

Repinly helps you find influencers

Pinterest is powerful, lots of traffic. Average time on Pinterest approx: 10 minutes, far more than other social sites.These allow you to get a message when someone pins something from your website. You can set up for alerts on competitor sites, too. 
Rapportive search for information online
Disruption Analysis Sources: Crunchbase www.whogotfunded.comSeekingAlpha CORI Business & disruptor informationis a good tool to find information.SEC and other money-related findingsPublic Company Data

Contract Database

www.copyright.gov Copyright and IP search
ThomasNet.com product information on manufactured goods.
Domaintools.com Paid service.  Alerts based on domain registrations.  See competitor domains
www.indeed.com Hire/Fire/Openings  – overarching jobs trend analysis.  Find out who is staffing up
www.similarsites.com –Find out who competes with whom
Boardreader.com Find out what people are talking about. Also searches LinkedIn groups.
www.competemonkey.com  –set up alerts when a competitor’s site changes

Social Web Intelligence Framework and Tactics

Businesses desire to augment and amplify their competitive intelligence capability by integrating information from social, web and other publicly available sources. They seeks to develop an internal competency program around the discipline of web intelligence. This program has the goal of producing actionable intelligence using available web, deep web[1], social media and darknet[2] information.

To this extent, BloomThink has created the Social Web Intelligence Framework and Tactics (SWIFT) Program. BloomThink’s SWIFT Program is a uniquely designed business process and method for capturing, categorizing, analyzing and reporting on vast amounts of disparate unstructured data. This program and framework, as well as related technologies, are designed to be deployed as in-house solutions.



The emphasis of the SWIFT Program is the structured and deliberate synthesis of targeted intelligence and contextual intelligence. Built on commercially available technology and leveraging your organization’s existing resources, targeted intelligence is developed through intentional and focused search across available web, deep web, social media and darknet collection vectors. Contextual intelligence is collected through the implementation and monitoring of social listening and alerting technologies then stored in the SWIFT platform. The SWIFT Program guides practitioners through the steps to collect, categorize, synthesize, analyze data and then deliver meaningful, actionable intelligence in easy to read and evaluate templates. Templates for regular intelligence reporting, on-demand profile development and ad hoc threat assessment are included as part of the program.

Your organization’s SWIFT Program practitioners are educated through a program of training modules, simulated and real-world practicum delivered by BloomThink. SWIFT Program pulsing and assistance is provided on a quarterly basis and/or as needed.

The SWIFT Program covers the following four phases

  1. Listen and Gather – passive signal awareness and directed signal search
  2. Filter and Categorize – signal discrimination and information grouping
  3. Synthesize and Analyze – find the connective tissues between signals and determine impact
  4. Report and Act – Format the most relevant analysis and supporting facts in actionable reports

BloomThink’s approach to the Social Web Intelligence Framework and Tactics Program is to maximize technology investments that your organization has already made. For this reason, an inventory of available and recommended technology is performed at the start of the engagement. Organizational investments in items like journal subscriptions, LexisNexis, WestLaw, industry-specific content, commercial listening platforms, network analysis tools and data visualization software are important to understand from the outset. BloomThink comes prepared with a host of free or freemium technologies (some listed below as examples) that may be used for the duration of your organization’s SWIFT Program.

To request an evaluation please fill out the form:


[1] The term “deep web” refers to world wide web locations not currently indexed by the most common search engines.

[2] The term “darknet” refers to anonymous, non-commercial or generally unknown web communications and technologies such as P2P file sharing.

Managing Employee Engagement When You Have No Employees

Work is what you do, not where you go
Creative Commons Attribution by Flickr user   Thomas Leuthard

Contract workers, contingent workforce and “solopreneurs” are on the rise. It is not just by a little bit.  The combination of a slow economy, technology that lets people work from anywhere and a structural shift in the understanding that work is something you do and not just some place you go is driving changes in the workforce.

Here’s the situation: People are leaving BigCo Inc. because they are lacking engagement.  Those same people are starting MyCo LLC. because they desire the freedom to engage professionally on their terms.

Hard to believe?  A key motivation for highly skilled workers to give their own business a go is their experience as salary men and women.  A recent Harvard Business Review article cited research that states, “74% of respondents cited a lack of employer engagement as their principal reason for leaving (emphasis added).”

Communication is at the core of engagement.  Therefore it should be no surprise that the massive increase in social media technology is found at the core of worker engagement discussions.  Whether document sharing, real-time chat, email or online communities the recommendations abound.  But it should be noted that no employer getting left behind by a do-it-yourselfer lacks email or a website.  The implication is that those types of technologies, alone, do not make for more or better engagement.

This is because engagement is first about the human being and only then about the technology.  Scholarly research in this area abounds (see the cite at the end of this article).  Most arrive at the conclusion that the three pillars of engagement are:
1.       A combination of rewards
2.       Involvement in major activities
3.       Active participation in decision making

One company doing it right is Field Nation. Field Nation was built as a place where independent contractors and big business could engage with each other on more than just the hourly rate and start date.  Take a look at how they address each of the 3 scholarly engagement pillars in real life.

Field Nation actively invites users to rate and review each other.  That kind of recommendation and review elevates a user or small business profile in the system which leads to new opportunity. Other rewards are monetary or thank-you related where Field Nation rewards their users (contractors and businesses alike) for participation, interaction and referrals.  The important piece is that rewards are meaningful to the users.  Meaningful rewards are rarely trade-show schwag.  Companies looking to engage their contract workforce in a meaningful way need to go beyond giving them a mug and get down to rewards that matter to the contractor.

When you run MyCo LLC., “major activities” are completely different than they are for BigCo Inc.  Major activities for independent and small businesses are much more about connecting with other independents and small businesses.  The ability to meet up either physically at an event like AIIM Minnesota’s Thirsty Thursday or virtually in one of Field Nation’s hundreds of community groups is an important way to stay in touch.  These kinds of groups provide better interaction than most corporate intranets because they have a higher critical mass of users and a broader diversity of insight and experience.  Meanwhile they’re filtered a bit more than similar public groups on sites like LinkedIn or SlashDot. The feel in these groups is much different than the caricature BigCo Inc. “recycling team” or “Hawaiian shirt day” which are (rightfully) universally reviled.

Finally, an active role in decision making is predicated on meaningful participation.  A corporate suggestion box that never sees suggestions acted on or sees only the most banal recommendations implemented is a drain on engagement.  Fortunately, contractors and consultants are hired for their expertise.  They are there for their skill.  This means they already have the ear of their employer.  But nothing is more demoralizing for an employee than to believe that their experience, expertise and thoughtfulness don’t matter. At Field Nation users are engaged in the most meaningful decision possible – take this job or not. At BigCo Inc. employees are still restricted by org chart hierarchy and “that’s not your job” mentality.  There are notable exceptions, and they should be held up as examples.  But the exceptions prove the rule which is still that 74% of people who leave BigCo do so because of a lack of engagement.

Companies are losing more employees and using more independents than before.  Engagement is the key to keeping them if they’re yours; or keeping them happy and productive if they’re their own.

Citations: Factors Persuading Employee Engagement and Linkage of EE to Personal & Organizational Performance, Rashid, Asad, Ashraf, Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business, September 2011, vol 3, no 5.


3 Steps To Great Content Marketing

great content marketing with bloomthink
Creative Commons By Flickr user orangeacid

Content marketing is an absolutely immense topic.  It can span everything from social media to traditional print and mass media and even event marketing. Great content marketing is a grind.  Doing it well requires patience, persistence & productivity. To me and my BloomThink customers, content marketing means giving away high quality information, insight & tools to boost awareness, spur a transaction & deepen relationships.  Your goals vary depending on where the customer is along her journey with your brand.  But ultimately, content marketing helps organizations guide, speed & shortcut that journey rather than only showing up at the finish line.

1) Great content marketing requires patience.  You must be patient to understand the needs, wants and motivations at different stages of the customer journey.  That means paying attention, listening and showing up in all those places where your customers hang out.  Are they on bulletin boards or Pinterest? Are they looking up answers on StackOverflow or Recipes on foodnetwork.com.  It takes a bit of “customer anthropology” to figure this out.  Then realize that different kinds of customers are in different places and each have separate needs.

2) Great content marketing requires persistence.  Your early stage prospects are likely researching you along with competitors.  You want to delight & entertain them with insightful content.  Infographics, videos and content with a “cool factor” will help you get their attention.   Fresh content is important. But remember that freshness is in the eye of the customer.  This gives you a key ability to re-use and re-mix your content and get it out there.  So definitely re-use but never overwhelm.  And please don’t make the all-too-common mistake of simply re-blasting content that contains dated material.  Statistics, URLs, and events are especially dangerous.  So get into the grind and update, update, update.

3) Great content marketing requires that you are productive.  When customers are ready, provide some more detailed content.  Case studies, whitepapers, customer testimonials and user generated content really shine here.  This informs them of the deeper value you provide.  When you include user generated content (like Facebook comments, ratings and user group threads) you let your current happy customers persuade.  Their voice is always trusted more than yours.  But your happy customers are also more willing to listen/read/watch your content.  So make sure you are productive with getting great content into their hands and empowering and encouraging them to share it as well.  This helps to drive decisions.

Good content can be a grind.  Doing it well requires patience, persistence & productivity.  Consumers require value not gimmicks. Make lives, transactions & decisions easier.  Provide genuine, unique insight. Give to get.

This post originally appeared as part of CMSWire’s Discussion Point.

This is an awesome roundup of content  marketing wisdom.

Social Listening vs Traditional Marketing – Understanding The Oracle Acquisition of Collective Intellect

Social Listening with BloomThink
Creative Commons Attribution via Flickr User Visualpanic

In the world of impulse consumerism you can attempt to stay top of mind through saturation marketing (expensive) or you can compel a transaction with artificial limits on deals, quantities or geographies (difficult) or you can become top of mind by entering with a splash at the right time (data-intensive).

The first approach is the traditional media marketing approach.  Big spending gets eyeballs some of those eyeballs belong to people who will want your product.  But you have got to gain volume and maintain attention with no way to actually track a sale.  Look at the image.  The first approach tells the world that they have tetris tiles available and hopes that someone needs one.

The second is the coupon / contest approach. Getting people off the couch to get to an event or to change buying habits is difficult.  The payoff of the contest or the discount on the product has to be extremely steep in order to compel the desired behavior.  It’s the Black Friday deal which gains awareness and attention but the profits are often slim if there at all.  Hope is placed in down-stream purchases from newly loyal customers.  Look at the image again.  The second approach tells the world to stock up now during their 2-for-1 tetris tiles sale…you know, in case you ever need a tetris tile piece.

The third approach is the engagement approach.  Understand what the consumer needs and when they are almost ready to make a decision then present your deal, your product, your offer.  This is the intelligence-drive approach. With enough data in aggregate about consumer trends and the ability to engage with individual consumers via social channels businesses are able to deliver compelling and persuasive information at the right time.  The third approach listens and watches for when people share that they’re remodeling and repairing their bathroom and need some tetris tiles.  They then let that prospective consumer know that they have exactly what is needed and that it is convenient to buy.  The hope-based approach of market saturation is traded for precise targeting.  The profit-gutting approach of behavior modification marketing is traded for persuasive and timely information delivery

This third approach is behind all good social media campaigns and it is a big reason why there has been a mass of acquisitions in the social media monitoring space.

Social media monitoring is all about “listening” to what is being said about you, your products and the market space in why your business exists.  Oracle’s most recent acquisition of Collective Intellect directly supports this social listening and BI approach.  Collective Intellect brings deep textual and semantic analysis to social conversations.  By gaining the ability to mine social conversations for sentiment, trends and names, they deliver extremely rich contextual business intelligence.  Collective  Intellect has focused their software on the social media spaces.

Way back in 2008 while working at Oracle I wrote:

A BI engine can create a concept map based on term frequencies, term proximities and term usage. When combined with metadata classifications and transactional data, an organic classification structure begins to surface. Mapped against topics, groups, or classification phyla, specific semantic ontologies begin to emerge. These organic ontologies can then be used as the basis for BI inferences that produce predictions for users.” In B-eye Network Magazine

Four years later, my prediction has been borne out and I am excited to see where it goes.  Added to their recent acquisition of Vitrue and being similarly placed in the Oracle cloud, Collective Intellect looks to position Oracle as a premier source for social media business intelligence.  This is the critical ingredient in the third, and best, approach outlined above.

But Oracle is not alone in recognizing this space.  SalesForce.com, already owning Radian6 has recently acquired Buddy Media. And Adobe is still blazing the trail with their prescient acquisition of Efficient Frontier which completed early this year.

This space is hot and more innovation and acquisition is likely as businesses and brands realize that understanding the customer (whether B2C or B2B) is the most effective way to engage the customer.

Resources & Links:

Oracle announcement of the acquisition

TechCrunch review

Collective Intellect on SlideShare

This article originally appeared on SocialBusinessNews.com

Empathy in Social Media

via Acts of Excellence Blog: http://actstraining.com/2011/04/communicating-for-understanding/

If you have read any social business articles, whitepapers or blogs lately you probably read that you need to have a plan, deploy the technology and engage the users.  Such advice barely scratches the surface.  It fails to advise how to plan, how to deploy and how to engage.  It is like describing the ingredients to a gourmet dessert but failing to explain how to make a mousse.

What guides successful planning, deployment and engagement is something much fuzzier and difficult to nail down: empathy.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and get a sense of what they’re feeling, experiencing and desiring.

Successful social engagement systems rely on empathy.  What separates successful Facebook contests from failures is the ability to anticipate and deliver a chance at a coveted experience or prize.  Similarly, some QR Code campaigns work and others bomb because the successful ones correctly anticipate the context and desire of the person scanning the code.  The failures simply splash a code on some packaging.  Successful internal social business systems gain adoption by anticipating and delivering relevant content to employees.

Did you notice the key words in those answers?  They were “anticipate”, “coveted”, “context”, and “relevant”.  These beg the question of How do you accurately anticipate? And How do you know what is coveted, contextual and relevant?  The only way is to hone your sense of empathy.

What will a suburban mother of 3 working part-time covet?  It will be different than the thing coveted by the urban hipster.  Which group are you targeting in your social marketing Facebook campaign? Which are you serving with your internal social business system?

Understanding your prospect’s context requires empathy.  A person willing to visit your business’s Facebook page that they saw at the bottom of a magazine ad while on a plane headed to 10,000 ft is in a different context than either the mother or hipster described above.  Your Facebook page (or tab) should respect and reflect that they are a traveler, away from home and have limited time.  Your social media campaign should tie your product or service to a sense of adventure (empathy with traveler), comfort (empathy with away from home) and convenience (empathy with limited time).

A person willing to scan a QR code in a store is doing other things as well.  They are away from a desktop or laptop computer, they’re on a mobile phone, they’re looking for a reason to buy.  This kind of empathic understanding should govern what your QR campaign actually does.  They’re on their iPhone and looking for a reason to buy?  Deliver a mobile only website with persuasive buy-it-now messaging. 

Thinking about those internal social business systems ask yourself, “Are all my colleagues/employees the same? “ Why would you think that simply deploying a social technology platform will secure adoption?  Platforms don’t meet the needs of end users.  They are foundations upon which solutions may be constructed.  Too many hyperbolic sales-pitches from big platform vendors ignore, omit or hide this fact.  So empathize with your different employee teams.  Who needs easier access to old email archives?  Who needs to find an “expert” in the company who they don’t already know?  Who needs to see the campus map?  Who needs to combine support call info with sales pipeline info with appointment scheduling?  When you identify real needs through empathizing with people you can start to craft solutions on that platform you bought.  Until then you’re going to suffer from adoption drain.

The answers to these empathy-driven questions will serve you well as you follow the ubiquitous but pedestrian advice to have a plan, deploy the technology and engage your audience.

Your Registration Forms Suck

You are making me do what?
You are making me do what?
Creative Commons Attribution by Flickr User JD Hancock http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/5061697780/sizes/l/in/photostream/

A recent article on UXMovement outlined 8 reasons why people don’t fill out those sign up forms on a website, Facebook page or inside your app.  The reasons were what you might expect: fear of getting spammed, fear of insecure data storage or transfer, asking for information that users feel they shouldn’t need to give up.

But a huge reason for avoiding sign up forms, registration walls and subscriptions was missed.

The content that is behind that form is probably available elsewhere without registration requirements.  Furthermore, someone in my social network probably knows where it is, or already has it and is willing to share.  This means that websites aren’t trading as much on *uniqueness* of content but rather on *convenience*.  If your registration form or sign up process is a big barrier to getting at your content, the convenience goes down and users will look elsewhere.  The failures of big news papers to put content behind paywalls and registration walls illustrates this point nicely.  Analyst reports are in a similar situation.  The purchaser persona for these has shifted away from an interested buyer doing market research and almost exclusively to the marketing departments of the companies covered in the reports.  The companies then post the analyst reports for all to see.  You and I get them for free, without registering.

So think about that registration form, contest entry or sign-up sheet you have.  Keep it simple and follow these 2 guidelines:

1) simple registration forms are OK – name, email, company name and maybe phone number (maybe!)  People are usually willing to trade basic information for access to your content.  But make sure it’s actually a trade.  Don’t gouge your market for their data.

2) keep it easy and convenient – forms should take less than 30 seconds to fill in and I should be able to do it as easily on my phone or tablet as I can on my laptop.  Remember that access to your content is a convenience.  I will go find it (or something like it from your competitor) elsewhere if you make my life difficult.

There are hundreds of opportunities to sign up for a chance to win an iPad. There are millions of tech blogs.  We have whitepapers, reports, infographics and webinars coming out our ears.  That information is easy to replicate, share and re-post.  It is good that information is shared and content goes viral through our interest networks.  So ensure that your content points back to you and lets people know how to get in touch when your content touches them.

That is engagement that no sign up form will ever mimic.

[my name is Billy Cripe – my site is BloomThink.com – I run a social media strategy agency – email: billy.cripe[at]bloomthink.com | facebook: facebook.com/bloomthink ]