Branding Reinforcement Tool or Source For Competitive Intelligence?

It should not be a huge shock to find that some of the well known brands in the world have a Facebook Fan Page. The popular social media marketing tool allows marketing professionals to reinforce brands on the web by engaging consumers via wall postings, photos, videos and discussions. This low cost avenue of keeping a brand in the minds of consumers does have its disadvantages.

In the process of exchanging messages and sharing images via the web 2.0 application, companies must realize that a great deal of competitive intelligence data can be made available. Such data can be used by competitors to adjust offline marketing plans, create consumer profiles and modify their respective social media marketing campaigns. Figure 1 illustrates Mitsubishi’s Facebook Fan Page.

Figure 1:Screenshot of Mitsubishi’s Facebook Fan Page
Please Click On Image To Enlarge

The challenge of finding the right balance between soliciting just enough feedback from consumers and not putting on display valuable information should be a concern for marketers and CI practitioners responsible for defensive competitive intelligence strategies.

Dealing with the challenge calls for having a practical approach to managing a Facebook page by considering the following issues:

  • Do you really need a fan page?
  • Should the page be public or private?
  • Are you aware of who is joining the fan page?
  • Are you prepared to deal with feedback provided on the page’s wall? (Positive vs Negative)
  • What topics should be discussed to engage consumers on the page?

Although it would be easy to suggest possible answers to the questions listed above, it is recommended that they should be used as discussion points in your company. Results from the discussion can be used to build a sound social media marketing campaign considering the competitive intelligence implications of the Facebook Fan Page.