Do you keep up with your competitors and industry trends as often as you should? As a small to medium size business, you know that keeping track of your competition is important for your future growth. Maybe you commissioned a study, or have a paper file of competitors or a summer intern did a bunch of research on the web. When it was created it was very eye-opening, but how do you keep your information up to date? Does your executive team have time to keep up with all of the articles out there on your competitors and industry?
Content Curation Tools can Help
Content curation is a fast growing discipline that many businesses are using to discover and publish content to their blog or site. While the focus of curation is building authority and engagement with your business community, many of the techniques and tools can be used for competitive research. You can build an automated ‘competitive research portal’ that will provide a weekly roundup of key, targeted articles to your executive team. We will be using the MyCurator WordPress plugin as our example tool, but there are many other tools available to build a similar process (Disclosure: I am the CEO of Target Info, the developers of MyCurator).
Competitive Research Portal
Imagine a central location where a daily stream of articles on your competitors, industry trends and client news appears. The key is that the information is highly selective and very targeted, not another fire hose of mostly irrelevant news. MyCurator, as well as other tools, use AI processing to let you train the system to weed out the junk and off-topic content that is out on the web. Like a good spam filter, MyCurator can weed out over 90% of articles, delivering the ‘must see’ information automatically.
To start, MyCurator is integrated into WordPress. You can build your portal right into your current blog or site, using hidden pages that only your team can access. You could also set up a new blog, with password access limited to your company. Either way, your new portal is based on a very powerful content management tool that you control and can extend as needed.
Automating your Content Collection
After installing MyCurator, you need to identify where to collect the information from. These Sources usually would include:
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- One or more Google Alerts. These provide a continuous search of the web based on keywords you choose. You might directly search on competitor and client names. You could include keywords that describe your industry.
- Your competitors blogs, and maybe also your client’s blogs.
- Blogs and sites of industry authorities.
- News sites that focus on your industry niche, such as trade journals and niche blogs. Maybe a larger news aggregation site such as TechCrunch, depending on your industry.
- Twitter can also be a source of articles that are tweeted as a link, and you can set up searches on specific hash tags as well as keywords to find them.
You can easily add these sources into MyCurator with a simple click on a bookmarklet tool. You then describe a few keywords that should show up in the articles and news you would like to see. MyCurator then starts processing, reading all of the articles in your sources throughout the day. As it finds articles, you train the software with a simple click as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ article. After reviewing 10 or 20 articles, you will begin to see much more selectivity and discrimination in the articles and news the system discovers.
After training, you can tell MyCurator to automatically post only the good, relevant articles to your new portal. You now have your competitive research appearing ‘as it happens’ with only a few minutes a week required to keep the system trained.
Easy Access by your Team
Since your new competitive research portal is based on a WordPress site, you have a tremendous number of options to easily distribute your content.
- You have an almost unlimited number of themes to style and present the information on your portal, making it easy to use and visually appealing when your team members visit the site.
- You can create a daily or weekly email digest of the new articles using a plugin such as Subscribe2.
- Publish to your internal social networks such as Yammer or Chatter with Network Publisher.
- Add your portal’s RSS feed to Flipboard, Pulse or other reader Apps on your tablet or phone.
- Create a PDF of key articles for meetings or email distribution using PDF24.
- You can even send out Text messages on important articles using WordPress Text Message.
With a competitive research portal, you now have a single archive of timely, important information for your business. With minimal effort, your executive team, even your entire company, can be up to date on your competitors, clients and industry news.