Social Media and CI

March 15, 2018

Science magazine recently reported on Twitter and “fake news”. To summarize, new research seems to show that falsehoods spread faster and deeper on social media than did similar postings which were accurate. Ok, so this corroborates the old saying, “Falsehood flies, and the truth comes limping after it” (Jonathan Swift) So what?

For those of us in CI, this should be a warning. While social media can often be a rich source for bits of data that would often not be found elsewhere, that data is not, I repeat not, automatically verified, or worse self-verifying. It should be treated as any other non-verified individual piece of data, – that is, not given credibility just because it is  coming (seems to come) from a good source.

Let’s take a small social media example:, largely a business site.

It is an open secret that an individual who has been laid off, fired, or quit a job often leaves his/her LinkedIn profile unchanged, or may even “enhance” it a bit. Why? Because of a prevailing belief that it is easier to get a job, or at least be contacted by a recruiter cruising LinkedIn, if you are (or at least appear to be) still working. Given that, how much credibility should we give to a description of what that person does (did) when we building a competitive profile on that firm? Not much, I suggest.

Recommendation: when dealing with all social media, DIStrust it (or at least remain neutral) until it is verified – hopefully through using other than social media sources. Maybe that is a little strong, but keep it in mind when you find that social media discloses something “new”, “unexpected”, or ” surprising” about a competitor.


Where do I start my research (Part 2)?

April 8, 2013

Continuing on this subject, recently, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the federal regulator of securities markets, finally entered the modern world. The SEC indicated, in a case involving Netflix, that public companies could make significant announcements on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.


The SEC has caught up with the rest of the world in recognizing that social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, are part of the commercial environment. More importantly, for those of us in competitive intelligence, are appropriate sites to visit to collect raw intelligence data.

Now to be fair, the SEC requires that companies seeking to do this have first to alert investors, through press releases or regulatory filings, which probably have substantially less circulation then do postings on Facebook etc., as to where they intend to disseminate information that could potentially affect the price and the company stock. In other words, they will use narrower platforms to alert people that they will use broader platforms in the future. How constricted.

This just confirms what many of us know – social media sites are a valuable place to troll for competitively sensitive information (for that is what the SEC is really talking about) on all companies, whether public or private.


Social Media – CheapAid

June 26, 2012

Digimind recently released a study ( on the use of social media by competitive intelligence teams. Almost 80% of those responding said they used it “to extract information relating to competitors, industry developments, consumer trends and more.”


The most targeted: Twitter and LinkedIn, with over 60% using each of them, beating out Google+ and Facebook, neither of which cleared the 50% level. And Digimind report indicates this is not used solely for B2C (business to consumer) research.


What does that mean to you? If you are not using social media (which is free, or at least cheap) to outsmart your competition, you could be missing out on a lot. And you do not have to have years of training to do that – all you have to do is read!