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Tweeting With the Enemy — 3 Tips for Interacting With Competitors on Social Media



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Tweeting With the Enemy — 3 Tips for Interacting With Competitors on Social Media

Image credit: Nemodus photos | Flickr
Sheena Tahilramani
Co-Founder, 7 Second Strategies

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JANUARY 05, 2015
What do massive credit card debt, mystery fridge meat and your competitors have in common? None of these things will go away if you ignore them. Turning a blind eye to the actions of competing companies in your industry is a great way to get caught off guard and you’ll miss out on valuable insights that can help your company thrive.

Just as your company is constantly evolving, so are the other businesses within your industry. Ignoring their activities, both online and off, can have dire consequences. Leverage social media to bolster your competitive edge with these three tips:

Related: Updated Facebook ‘Pages’ Allow You to Stack Up Your Competitors’ Social Metrics

1. Give credit where credit is due.
A self-assured person isn’t threatened by another individual’s achievements, and a competent company isn’t either. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your competitors and give credit where credit is due, but do be sure to use these moments as opportunities to define how your firm is different from the herd.

Giving a shout out to indirect and direct competitors on social media not only does a great deal for industry relations. It’s also a chance for you to highlight your company’s unique value proposition and reiterate its areas of expertise. If Competitor A was just acknowledged as the best XYZ for restaurants, be the bigger company by giving kudos via a tweet.

Then be sure to add some posts to your queue that highlight your company’s successes with something related yet different such as a luxury line of products. Remember to keep these well-timed tweets positive and nonthreatening: This is your opportunity to explain how your company is unique, not to blatantly state how it’s better.

Related: 3 Ways to Use Your Twitter Data to Beat the Competition

2. Up your social-media listening game.
There’s substantial value in paying attention to what your consumers are saying on social media, and you can learn equally as much by studying your competitors’ tweets, posts, blogs and op eds.

To do this, you’ll need a social media strategy just for competitors. Checking in at random on other companies’ Twitter feeds is better than doing nothing, but having the information in real time can really give you the upper hand.

List six competitors: three companies that directly take business away from you (and vice versa), and three firms that you don’t compete with directly but greatly respect. Designate a point person on your team who is solely responsible for competitor research. Set up Google Alerts for these six companies and arrange for a scan of the social-media pages of the three direct competitors every other day (check their Twitter feed every day).

Your point person should disseminate relevant information in real time and draw up a quarterly strategy document that analyzes the behaviors of competitors. This gives you the information to reasonably predict their focus and can help you tailor your business plans to corner whatever market they’re overlooking. Do this same exercise with your three aspirational competitors to examine successful campaigns and adapt any relevant ideas applicable to your company.

3. Find industry allies
You might lose sleep over your direct competitors, but your indirect competitors can (and should) be another story. Companies within your industry that target a different core consumer base can be excellent resources for industry insights and the relative lack of overlap makes knowledge sharing beneficial to everyone.

Use social media to easily find and interact with fellow companies in your industry and take these relationships offline to help strengthen one another’s businesses. Focus your efforts on companies that are substantially larger than yours, those that can’t cater to smaller orders or that don’t offer their services on a reduced retainer.

Bigger players are always looking to refer clients that they can’t work with to smaller reputable businesses. With appropriate communication and mutual respect, a noncompeting company in your industry can actually give you that competitive edge.

The bottom line is this: Your competitors’ actions on social media tell a lot about their direction, client base and overall strategy. Use social platforms to your advantage — as a means of communicating your value proposition, as a source of competitor research and as an industry database. And you’ll experience the positive results of becoming a bit more social with the enemy.


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Last year, Instagram introduced an enhanced comment filter that uses machine learning to spot offensive words and phrases in challenging contexts. Now, the company is expanding similar coverage to photos and captions. Today, it announced that it will use AI to “proactively detect bullying” before sending content to human moderators for review.

The new feature will roll out to users in the coming weeks, launching in time for October’s National Bullying Prevention Month in the US and just before Anti-Bullying Week in the UK. The same technology is also being added to live videos to filter comments there as well.

This is the first product announcement under new Instagram chief Adam Mosseri who took over following the hasty departure of co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger last month. The split was reportedly due to simmering tensions between the pair and parent company Facebook, which has frequently meddled with Instagram’s product.

With public trust in Facebook continuing to fall, Instagram remains the bright spot in the company’s product lineup. It’s popular, profitable, and it has yet to be tainted by the scandals that have undermined Facebook. In this context, using AI to help weed out offensive content and keep Instagram a home for good vibes is extremely important.

A story published in Wired last year explained some of the details of Instagram’s machine learning comment filters, but it’s well-established that this sort of technology is no silver bulletfor content moderation. AI is cheap to deploy at scale, yes, but it still has trouble dealing with human context and nuance. That’s why it’s good that these new bullying filters also send content to human moderators to perform the final check. Automation without oversight is a recipe for disaster.

Interestingly, Instagram says it’s not just analyzing photos captions to identify bullying, but also the photo itself. Speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson gave the example of the AI looking for split-screen images as an example of potential bullying, as one person might be negatively compared to another. What other factors the AI will look for though isn’t clear. That might be a good idea considering that when Facebook announced it would scan memes using AI, people immediately started thinking of ways to get around such filters.

Along with the new filters, Instagram is also launching a “kindness camera effect,” which sounds like it’s a way to spread a positive message as a method to boost user engagement. While using the rear camera, the effects fill the screen with an overlay of “kind comments in many languages.” Switch to your front-facing camera, and you get a shimmer of hearts and a polite encouragement to “tag a friend you want to support.”

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Yes, Facebook Dating is a real thing. And we may have just received a sneak peek.

Jane Manchun Wong — an app researcher who’s spotted Facebook features in the past, like Talent Show — posted photos from what she claims is an internal test of Facebook Dating.


The company wouldn’t say whether these pics are the real deal, although it did confirm it’s testing Facebook Dating internally.

Two months ago, at its F8 developer conference, Facebook shared that it was developing a dating app. Aspiring yenta Mark Zuckerberg explained it was “going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not hookups.”

Later, on its blog, Facebook dished out a few more details: “People will be able to create a dating profile that is separate from their Facebook profile — and potential matches will be recommended based on dating preferences, things in common, and mutual friends. They’ll have the option to discover others with similar interests through their Groups or Events.”

From Wong’s photos, it looks like the app will let you prevent your current Facebook friends from seeing your dating profile, thus avoiding potential embarrassment. It’ll also offer a variety of gender options, including trans man, trans woman, and non-binary.

No word on when, exactly, Facebook Dating will become available to the public. Guess you’ll just have to make do with Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, Happn, Grindr, Hinge, and the thousands of other dating apps out there in the meantime.

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Security researchers have discovered that it’s possible for hackers to change both the content and the sender of a WhatsApp message after you’ve received it …

This includes the ability to change quoted messages, to make it appear you said something you didn’t.

CNET reports that the possibility was discovered by Check Point Software Technologies.

The firm] found that hackers can create a hacked version of the app and alter a quoted message (a past one that someone is replying directly one) to change the content or sender.

The hacker would, however, need to be part of the chat, so the vulnerability mostly applies to group chats.

WhatsApp told the NYT that it was not aware of the technique being used in the wild, and a cure would be worse than the problem.

One solution would be to create transcripts of every message exchange to verify the accuracy of every quote. Creating such a transcript is a significant privacy risk because those accounts of what people wrote to each other must be stored somewhere, the company said.

All WhatsApp messages are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that only those within a chat would be able to exploit the loophole. Storing a transcript would effectively mean removing that end-to-end encryption.

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