Deloitte University Press has published an excellent piece on market disruption entitled Patterns of disruption: Anticipating disruptive strategies in a world of unicorns, black swans, and exponentials. In it, the authors look at what organisations can do to be aware of potential market disruptions. One approach is to monitor the changing context within which the business operates. The authors say the best way to look ahead is to look around. I wish I had thought of that line.


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So how do you do that?

Content curation is concerned with finding, filtering and sharing information and as a process it is very well suited to market scanning. Here I’ll focus on the ‘finding’ part of the process. To add value to what you find you will need to establish who you will be sharing this with, what contextual information you can add and how and when you share  it. For example, it might be an industry insights document you share once a month or a regular newsletter.

By setting up the right content feeds and following relevant people you can bring market and competitor insights to you automatically and in real time. There are a range of ways to do this because there are so many tools available. However, if you have never done this before I would suggest starting with these techniques (which are all free).

1 Set up Google Alerts or Meltwater Alerts

These two alerts services will send you updates on the search terms you select as and when something is published on the web. You can choose the frequency of notifications and how you receive those notifications (email or RSS feed). If you choose email be sure to set up a filter in your inbox so they go to a dedicated folder or else you will get a steady stream of notifications straight into your inbox.

To get good quality information back make sure you use the right search ‘operators’ – this is the syntax (words, punctuation) you can use in Google to refine searches. The most useful one is putting an exact word or phrase that you are looking for in quote marks, the name of a competitor for example (“competitor”). This will automatically exclude all other words or terms. More on operators here.

2 Sign up to relevant newsletters

Whatever market you are in, or want to get in to, there will be vendor, analyst or media brands that produce regular newsletters. Sign up to those you think are useful and will provide relevant insights into your sector.

3 Create Twitter lists

Find useful and relevant people and brands to follow on Twitter and then create a list so that you can easily scan who is saying and sharing what. This list can be private or public depending on whether you want people to know you have listed them. If you are unsure who to follow use a tool such as Followerwonk to search Twitter biographies. Then add to your list. If you use a tool like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck then add the list as a column – it makes it easier to follow. Here are some tips on using Twitter lists.

4 Follow hashtags on Twitter

Twitter enables you to follow events from afar. This is a great way to see what leading thinkers in your sector are saying. Here’s a piece on how to do it. There are plenty of tools to help find hashtags to follow but I would start with finding out the hashtag of events you know will be useful. The event website or Twitter profile should list the hashtag.

5 Make the most of LinkedIn

Join relevant groups and keep an eye on discussions and also follow people who consider to be influencers in your market. Keep an eye on Pulse too as there are good articles that are worth a look.

These are just some techniques to get started. As I said, there are many tools that help scan markets – these ones here are simple and effective, just make sure you do something with what you find . . . a little knowledge can go a long way.