How to Use Twitter for Competitive Analysis

Dan BlankLet’s just say your business is jumping onto Twitter, and you want to get a sense of where you stand compared to your competition. How will you benchmark and judge if your efforts are doing well? How do you consider ROI? Here are some easy tips to help figure that out before you send your first Tweet.

Identify the Competition

If you can find even one person or brand in your industry that is on Twitter, then you have an ‘in’ to find many others.

If you are starting from scratch, start with well-known brands. Check their homepages for links to their Twitter account, or use Twitter search. Use Google.

For instance, let’s say I’m in the construction industry and my company leases and services big machines. How do I get started on Twitter?

Well, let’s start with Caterpillar. A simple Google search for “Caterpillar Twitter” brings you the Caterpillar Twitter page as the first result.

You’ve now taken your first step into social media for your niche.

Followers & Following

Even if we ignore Caterpillar’s own Tweets, we now have a ton of information in front of us, including a list of 34 people/brands that Caterpillar is following, 3,539 people/brands that are following Caterpillar and 168 Twitter lists that have added the Caterpillar brand.

If you see who Caterpillar is following, you may notice that Battlefield Equipment is on there. If you sell used Caterpillar equipment in Canada, then these folks are your competition.

You can keep doing this again and again. See who your competition is following and who follows them. This tells you so many things.

Look beyond brand names to individual people. It won’t always say “Caterpillar Northwest Sales Manager.” Someone’s Twitter name may be @Jon58Dirt – but if you click his over to his Twitter page, you may see in his bio that he is indeed the Caterpillar Northwest Sales Manger.

It takes digging, but the info is all out there!

Twitter Search

When defining your competition, look past traditional boundaries. Use Twitter search to see how those in your market are finding & sharing information on your industry. Use it to see what people are saying about products.

For instance, the Bauma tradeshow is going on right now, which is billed as ‘the world’s largest industrial show.’ Want to know what people are saying about Caterpillar there? Just do some searches on Twitter for “Caterpillar Bauma,” and see what comes up.

Hours of fun await you! Links

Let’s stick to our example of looking at Battlefield Equipment as a direct competitor. When you go to their Twitter page, you notice that they use to shorten their URL’s. On April 16, this is one of their Tweets:

The updated 2010 Used Equipment List has been published (pdf) …

Want to know how many people clicked that link? Just copy it and past it into your web browser, and add a plus sign after it:

BOOM! You can see the full data of how many people clicked on it and when. Why is this useful? It allows you to benchmark where you want your metrics to be, and it gives you indication as to what people are interested in, helping you shape your own Twitter content strategy.

Use This for Your Business or Your Career

Now, this example tackled a big brand in a big industry. What if you are a florist in Indianapolis or an SEO practitioner in Olympia or fashion blogger? These same tips apply to your role and market.

If you are a marketing manager in the consumer electronics industry, you can find others on Twitter with a similar role as you too. The great thing about social media and Twitter is that it is great for very specific niches.

Let me know if I can help: 973-981-8882 or



The One Thing You MUST do to Succeed in Social Media

Do you want to know 89 ways to best leverage social media? I thought not.

Today I just want to share one tip, one thing that is CRITICAL to you succeeding in social media. Okay, here it is:


That’s it. Just be a human being, and actually care about the people you are connecting with online.

I know that seems very simple, and maybe you are even regretting clicking on this post, but let’s explore why CARING is so much more valuable than me telling you about how to leverage the latest feature on Facebook, Digg or Google Analytics.

This is why is caring so important:

Soylent Green is People. So are Businesses.

Let’s explore your use of social media in a business context. Maybe your goal is to score an agent for your book, or to attract engineers to your blog, or ensure that anyone in your area looking for an HVAC specialist is aware of your business.

Social media is getting more and more crowded, with tons more people using services such as Twitter now than a year ago. Many of those users are also becoming more aware of the power of the service, using it as a cornerstone of their business.

What that means is that it can be harder to stand out. That traditional ‘marketing tactics’ may not translate all that well to social media. It’s the same way that news media can no longer just ‘inform’ their audience of news, because EVERYONE is informing each other about news all the time. So they have to rethink how they add value, connect with an audience, and solve problems.

What do you do to leverage social media in the most powerful way possible? What do you do to stand out, to become that essential connection to those in your market? Simple: care about other people’s goals, and make a concerted effort to help them.

Oftentimes, businesses look for gaps in their market – opportunities that no one else sees that they can fill. But why not focus on the gaps in peoples’ LIVES. Social media is an incredible tool to expose those gap – giving you tons of real-time data as to what people need and want, how they behave, who they interact with, and who they connect to.

Here’s a REALLY simple example: I can’t tell you how many times I see someone post something vaguely personal on Facebook or Twitter, and are GRATEFUL for any response of support. Simple things:

  • “My sister goes in for hand surgery today…nervous.”
  • “Plane delayed for a THIRD time today.”
  • “Big interview tomorrow… ironing!”

So, you know, at the very least, you can respond in the following ways:

  • “Hope the hand surgery goes well!”
  • “Ugh… sorry to hear about the plane delays.”
  • “Good luck on the interview!”

So, you showed you cared. And that’s awesome. Seriously, it can mean a lot to people just to know that they aren’t alone in the universe, alone with their problems.

But lets take it a step further – let’s actually help! Some ideas:

  • “Hope the hand surgery goes well! Here are some stress balls for her road to recovery!
  • “Sorry to hear about the plane delay. Maybe this book on aviation humor can help you pass the time:
  • “Good luck on the interview. My best tip: mimic the speaking style of the interviewer.”

Clearly, these are silly examples to more personal updates. But what about when folks you follow on Twitter post comments about their career and their business? Can’t you assist in the same manner?

These are the people that will shape your career. Take a minute to help shape theirs.

Besides, that’s LOADS more helpful that being the 200th person to share the same piece of news about the iPad.


When Tools Get in the Way of Our Goals

Dan Blank

We all have so many online tools at our disposal. While many of them feel new, exciting, and empowering, the tools alone can sometimes get in the way of what we are trying to do. So today I want to chat about the difference between “getting things done” and actually accomplishing your goals.

Likely, you have no shortage of ideas of what you want in life: Maybe you are trying to grow your online audience, write a compelling blog, build an online business, or find a publisher for your book. Yet, I imagine that many of your goals are only half-realized. So the question is: what is stopping you?

I’ve been considering this question for myself as I named this website. Sure, its symbolic, but it is critical that I fully understand my goals if I have any hope of accomplishing them. There are three ways to consider it:

  • we grow MEDIA
  • we GROW media
  • WE grow media

Let me explain:

  • The first explains WHAT we do. Creating MEDIA is the goal.
  • The second explains HOW we do it. We are GROWING it organically.
  • The third explains WHY we do it. The WE means that we are helping each other.

The ‘what, how, why’ is a take-off on Simon Sinek’s ideas in “Start with Why,” a book that promotes the idea that people believe in WHY we do things, and not so much WHAT we do. An example would be that people pay twice as much for Apple computers because of their belief in deeper things such as beauty, simplicity and design, and not because the computer itself has a faster processor.

All three parts of “Why, How and What” are essential. But as I start this journey, build this website and connect with folks about their needs and goals, the WHY – the WE – is what I am most focused on:

WE grow media.

Sure, I have to develop programs and content and leverage networks and tools. But I am looking out beyond them. Looking deeper. Looking to the horizon, to the place that we want to be, and how we can help each other get there.

Many of us get caught up too much in the day to day. As if email is our master, and the Blackberry, Basecamp, Twitter, Outlook Calendar, etc are the ‘productivity tools’ that rule us.

And it’s silly, and a bit dangerous.

It’s easy to get into a habit of checking and checking and checking these things. To ‘stay on track.’ But what it means is that we are always REACTING instead of CREATING. In the day to day, it’s easy to justify. But when looking back at a bigger chunk of time, a few months or a few years, you realize that you have little to show for simply keeping up with email and other routine chores to ‘keep the lights on’ in your career. The same goes for other online activities such as blogging or online marketing.

This is no way to live. No way to accomplish your goals. No way to build a life.

Likewise, ‘yearly’ performance evaluations or quarterly report cards don’t do enough to create value in our lives. They are far too thin and far too infrequent. And they are just words on paper.

I have always been inspired by the movie The Paper Chase. The overall moral of the movie is that we are more than a grade on paper; That life is not meant to be lived on a treadmill whose angle is constantly being raised; That, if your not careful, life can be a series of meaningless tests that always promise the cheese, but never deliver.

Today, some people use new metrics to measure this: number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends.

And, while I value each of these networks, and spend a great deal of time serving those communities, the numbers don’t tell the real story.

  • Having 514 Twitter followers is different from asking someone: “how can I help you today?” and really meaning it.
  • Having 265 LinkedIn connections is not the same as assisting someone rethink their career.
  • Having 198 Facebook friends is nothing compared to the one person you help in a time of need.

These networks are powerful, but they are just TOOLS. What you do with them is what counts. We need to look beyond them. Don’t rely on the meager capabilities of any tool. To innovate you need to blend different tools – old a new – and use them in ways that speak to YOUR goals, not theirs. EG: don’t worry about number of times you are ‘listed’ on Twitter, but rather, the number of heartfelt ‘thank you’ emails you get from those you’ve helped.

Often, I feel like I live much of my life online, and yet three of the most powerful tools I use are incredibly old fashioned:

  • The telephone – I’m on networks such as Twitter all the time, but am always quick to move things to a phone call if I can. There are simply connections you can’t make in 140 characters.
  • Face-to-face – I’m a big believer in just sitting down and having coffee or lunch with someone. The web allows us to be VERY targeted in our virtual relationships, but face-to-face conversations is wonderfully diverse.
  • Notepads (virtual or real) – to flesh out ideas.
  • Reading (everything and anything) – to expand my universe and get fresh perspectives.

The goal here is not to choose traditional tools vs new media, but in integrating the best of both worlds in order to focus on helping others and accomplishing your goals.

If you are full of ideas, but blocked by the tools, I’m happy to help out. Just give me a call: 973-981-8882.


Welcome to We Grow Media

Dan BlankWelcome to your future. A place where you find the online world both empowering and approachable. Where you can be inspired, you can learn, you can meet people, and you can achieve your goals.

That is why I’m creating We Grow Media.

I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds (thousands?!) of creative people, media professionals, and industry experts.

And these are the people this site is for. The creators, builders, and experts of the world. Folks with passion in their blood. People who are filled with ideas and are determined to shape their lives, instead of waiting for the world to put them into a well-defined box. People like you.

I often find that, while many creators are on the road to good things, they are overwhelmed by information and communication streams; filled with too many ideas and not enough time; looking for opportunities but unable to find the space to pursue them.

Sound familiar?

I for one am tired of it. I’m tired of seeing people who are moving forward, but not getting anywhere. I’m tired of creative & innovative ideas being put off for another day. I’m tired of seeing people I respect and admire being stopped by the one thing that should most empower them: the web.

So I am inviting you to join me.

I’ll be sharing ideas, solutions, and inspiration in this blog. Stop in once a day or once a week to check it out.

Consider signing up for my brand-new newsletter (via the sidebar on the right) where I will share a more personal take on how we can use the web to empower ourselves to achieve our goals via online media, marketing, and community.

I am also building some training courses – a way for us to work TOGETHER to create the future. To create your future, and achieve your goals.

Consider following us on Twitter: @WeGrowMedia or my personal account: @DanBlank

You can even become a fan of We Grow Media on Facebook. I’m planning some book giveaways there in the near future.

Have any questions? Just want to chat? Give me a call: 973-981-8882.

Looking forward to the adventure!


Will You Be There for the Future of Media?

An article in Rolling Stone magazine quotes Jimi Hendrix, a few weeks before his death in 1970:

“Hendrix also said he’d been “thinking that this era of music – sparked off by the Beatles – had come to an end. Something new has got to come, and Jimi Hendrix will be there.” He didn’t make it.”

I can’t help but feel the future of publishing and media is in a similar place. The world has admiration for the way things were, for the value that media has given us over the last century, and how we have come to integrate it into our lives.

And yet, it is changing. Something new is coming.

We are now all Jimi Hendrix in mid-1970, positioning ourselves to ‘be there’ as publishing & media evolves.

The real question is: will you make it.