Home Social Media Social Selling as Competitive Intelligence – Tips to Posting Probe, Poach, Protect,...

Social Selling as Competitive Intelligence – Tips to Posting Probe, Poach, Protect, Pillage-Plunder


Social selling by means of web-based social networking guerilla wars are on the ascent and who has the most adherents wins and wins enormous. Getting genuine and “meaningful followers” is an endless test and Twitter makes it simple for your rivals to see who tails you. Contenders can likewise subvert and undermine all your “thought authority” endeavors also. Having both a protection and an offense is basic to enduring these social wars. You should build your own methodology and here are 5 instances of what I figure you ought to do on the basic idea that your rivals are there to take your clients and win do as such in the event that you don’t do anything.

1 – Postings – there are many theories about content and like people there we all have a unique approach to the world.  Certainly an approach to competitive positioning may not be the most positive, however you can always send “thank you” Twitter posts when someone retweets you and even when they fav a post. They took the time to share or let you know they favored what you said. Even better is to retweet (RT) someone who had retweeted you – returning a favor is always appreciated.  In addition, you certainly want to gain followers who follow you via thought leadership and in this way add protective barriers to your competitors poaching your followers.  Posting and commenting on other posts is a good way to learn more about the ecoknowlege you think you know.  You begin to realize that your approach or thought leadership is not the only one around and by building thought leadership you also are building competitive barriers around your solutions.  If, however, you are lazy like most social media marketing types you can use retweet OPC-other peoples’ content.  You may think it helps but it is really annoying and real professionals can tell the difference.  They don’t follow you to read what “other people say” they follow you to learn what you have to say.

Courtesy BBC

2 – Probe – begin with following all your competitors, familiarize yourself with what they are saying.  Most importantly, check often to see who is following them and make sure you are following your competitor’s followers.  If you are serious about this then probe beyond just the followers to discover what they are saying and doing.  Build a marketing matrix of your competitors and their content to really understand how they are positioning themselves in the marketplace.  Are they doing events, white papers, articles, social media, PR, webinars, podcasts, advertising, tradeshows, etc?  Build your matrix of competitors and see what the mix really is and what, if anything, they are not doing that you should do.  I find that there are so many unexplored forms of marketing that marketing department are not doing.

3 – Poach – Like the saying the “friends of my enemies are my friends” applies to fans of your competitor’s they could be your fans, followers and then customers.  This is very time consuming but if you don’t you will find your competitors are taking your customers away from you.  More to the point about how poaching can be used in business is you set the stage for communications by creating compelling content early and often.  This tends to keep competitors responding to you and you can use this to your advantage.

Personally, I think there should be more “rants and raves” on Twitter and other forms of social media. Of course, there is a lot of it already, however, the type of dialog often doesn’t lend itself to good debate rather “he really knew that video long before he said he did” or just headline news or that so and so is on the “wrong side of the issue.” This really isn’t debated as it is more like “you don’t agree with me, so you are foolish.” I call this activity – roadblocks because the person who sets up the first roadblock sets the stage for the pattern of communication going forward. In other words, if you start a topic or debate, you shouldn’t always be only on one side of it, you should be open to all points of view and maybe even change your viewpoint.

4 – Protect – protecting your own IP-intellectual property in the form of social media externally is as important to protecting your corporate assets internally.   This is where you can shine demonstrating your own thought leadership and that of your solution.  It is like the adage in reverse, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. That is, just posting what other people say is just blather or worse.  While some may appreciate what you do, your followers generally do not as they see it as you are being a sales pitch for other peoples’ content and products. Spend the time writing your own blog post and commentary on the topics you follow and even write on that you don’t care about keeps you on the forefront of followers’ minds. This positions you as being a real thought leader and not just a shill for someone else.  Keeping your thoughts fresh is always a challenge but nothing in this world stays the same for more than a nanosecond, so you have a great chance to look at the world every day and bring a new idea or fresh approach to an old idea. This helps you retain your followers and with hundreds of thousands of new users a day, you have the opportunity to gain new friends but also retain the ones you already have.

Ramparts were built throughout the ages to protect castles from enemies and are still a good idea for today.  Intellectual property (IP) is for some and increasingly for others the only thing their business does or has value in.  Twitter, FB and the rest don’t really add a lot of value other than offering a platform for users to add their own content and others to use or not to their own value.  Twitter posts by themselves have no real value other than “chirping” or “cawing” in the wind.  What has value is that you create an idea for a customer to use or add to their own value system.  Creating ramparts of IP builds and protects your ideas and content from competitive inroads or worse replacing your IP with theirs. In a free idea exchange system there are no real ramparts other than your ability to create unique content and aggressively use it against your competitors. In other words, you don’t sit in the stands or on the bench, you play on the field and you play offense – always.

5 – Pillage-Plunder – Corporate raiders who pillage, and plunder have existed for a long time and will be there forever. It is in our human nature to beat the competition whether sports or business. Social selling is no different. Twitter by default lets you see who is following your competitors and you can follow any of them back. Moreover, you can quite easily see all the posts from your competitor and build your own competitive content based on their writings, webinars, white papers, etc. In addition, you can see all their hashtags and use them to your advantage. You should realize you are in a battle and if you don’t play offense you will end up with no defense either.  Within a few hours you can build an offensive raid against those who are out to pillage and plunder your business and even get your posts with hashtags ahead of theirs. Moreover, you can do this without them even knowing about it.

Summary – Long ago, we found that you cannot react to changing market conditions nor predict them.   You can only do two things. First, you must direct your customers to your strategy. In other words, websites are incredibly passive tools that frankly are so often poorly constructed that users are often more confused than before.  In building the Twitter CEO and Venture Capital Scoreboards, I visited more than 2,000 websites.  I found all but two or three were a complete waste of time and effort.  Why you ask. Simply put, websites are built by technicians not by marketing communications experts and these technicians are more interested in their navigation system than actually communicating. In other words, websites do very little to direct your strategy and in many cases are more of use to competitors than customers and should be considered part of your defensive strategy. Second, strategically, the faster you can communicate, the faster you can change, and those corporations that change the fastest will be the most successful. Social selling and social media, especially Twitter, allows you to do that quite easily and effectively and is an active not a passive communications tool and is part of your offensive strategy.  Business, as you have seen, is not pretty but it is the way the world works.  This means your competitors are not friends as they want you out of business and take many or all of your customers. The key point is to realize you are in a social “cock fight” and act often otherwise you will end up as “road kill.”


1 – Here’s a few thoughts on hashtags. I generally like them and use them as much as possible. From my own experience and despite what survey’s show, people don’t ask themselves “oh, he/she uses too many hashtags so I won’t RT his/her posts.” People are smarter than that, as least, you hope so and you will find long-lasting value in being in those lists referenced by the hashtag. Seriously I have seen posts that are two years old in some hashtag lists.  In addition, my survey shows people will spend more time on hashtag lists than flipping through their own timeline. If you have the nerve and clout you can create your own hashtag.  In addition, incorporate “trending” hashtags in your posts if you have relevant content.  Also, certainly track trending hashtags which like topics such as “notonemore” #RelationshipGoals, and “issi” as some find them as a great way to market their own products such as guns and warfare.

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