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Organizational experience of social media: impacts on competitive intelligence

Diogo Carvalho (ISEG – Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)
Winnie Picoto (ISEG – Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)
Peter Busch (Department of Computing, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems

ISSN: 2059-5891

Article publication date: 26 June 2021

Issue publication date: 28 April 2022




The paper aims to clarify the potential impact of data gathered from social media (SM) in the competitive intelligence (CI) process of organizations. As use of SM expands, analysis of this data becomes a critical business need providing essential support for decision makers. This paper seeks to examine how SM be used to enhance CI in an organizational context.


This paper adopted an exploratory mixed-method approach followed by a sequential and equal status design, with qualitative semi-structured interviews, accounting for the qualitative study and serving as precursor to a quantitative structured survey. Interviewees included a university professor and CI consultant, an SM analyst and a subject in a management position – all in the field of CI. A survey was sent to Fortune 1000 companies. Some 227 companies replied.


The findings were that the majority of respondents produce CI reports at least monthly, and that information transmitted mainly by presentation within organizations. Over 70% of companies outsource CI activities to specialized firms, while 80.9% of organizations felt CI improved their relationship with their customers. Not surprisingly, as the number of people dedicated to CI activities increased, the likelihood of an organization hiring outside companies specializing in CI diminished.

Research limitations/implications

All organizations sampled were large US companies; thus, small- and medium-sized enterprises were excluded, as were non-US viewpoints. As survey respondents were anonymous, the source of data at the level of the individual is missing. Finally, only three interviewees provided the qualitative data.

Practical implications

This investigation determined organizations should have an established and well-structured CI department. Furthermore, such a department should have between five and ten employees to maximize the potential. Outsourcing depends on the company’s specific needs. Nevertheless, regardless of whether it outsources CI activities or not, each firm should monitor SM to enhance the CI process.


Much SM-based CI is either non-existent or in “embryotic” stages in most companies, and therefore still a work in progress. Furthermore, as SM is a relatively new phenomenon, studies supporting its implementation are scarce. Companies stand to gain significant improvements to CI if SM is effectively used.



Carvalho, D., Picoto, W. and Busch, P. (2022), "Organizational experience of social media: impacts on competitive intelligence", VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, Vol. 52 No. 2, pp. 161-183.



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