[See business blog archives for other posts about my journey setting up this business.]

One of the key steps I went through recently was to set up my Market Intelligence System (MIS) - and nowadays I recommend that this should be something everyone does at a very early stage of their business setup.

In fact, as soon as you know what market sector / niche you are operating in, it's a good policy to set up your MIS.

What is a Market Intelligence System?

And MIS is a fancy term I came up with for a system that monitors what the influencers and competitors are talking about in your market or niche.

There are two parts to setting up an MIS

  • Finding who the influencers are, and
  • Setting up a way to monitor them

I'll tell you what tools I used for both of those steps in a moment, but first let me tell you WHY I decided to set up an MIS. This part is key.

Why I created an MIS

I did that for three reasons.

The first reason is obvious:

It will help me stay well informed about what's going on in the digital marketing world. That's essential if I'm putting myself forward as an authority figure in that field.

The second reason is:

It's going to help me set up and operate my core social media activities. I plan to use social media as my basic traffic generation system - at least for now. But also...

The third reason is:

Potentially I'll be able to set up an automated list building system that piggybacks off what the influencers and authority figures are doing. This could potentially be a very effective system - but it needs testing and experimenting. Knowing and monitoring the influencers is a key part of setting this system up.

I'll talk about my social media setup quite soon, and that automated list building system some time after that. I'm quite excited by it, but I'm not relying it.

Finding Influencers

There are many ways of finding influencers - such as doing searches on social media sites for your main keywords. But here's a resource I found recently which simplified the process considerably:

http://rightrelevance.com

Create a free account with them (no need to sign up with their $500 per month API service!) and use it only for finding influencers. There are several other things you can do with the free account in relation to monitoring activities but I think there are better alternatives which I'll talk about later.

rightrelevance

Once you've entered your keyword (probably your niche name), click on the word Influencers and you'll see the results displayed, with a score for how well each one stacks up for that keyword.

What I also like is the list of related topics. Experiment with different topics - perhaps there's something more focussed for your particular positioning in your niche.

I will be using this tool - including the related topics section - when I set up the account-growth part of my Twitter account setup.

Before I go on to explain how I monitor the influencers, let me say something about RSS.

What Is An RSS Feed?

(In a future re-structuring of the content on this site, I'll put sections like this in a separate type of post - but for now, I'll embed it right here.)

What is key in setting up the monitoring part of a Market Intelligence System is the use of RSS feeds or Atom feeds. (Being a bonafide digital marketing expert I should know the difference between those two types of feeds. But I don't because I've never needed to know it!)

However, I do know that a lot of people are not really quite sure what an RSS feed is or how it works. Here's a simple explanation.

Think of any 'channels' on the web where content is - or could be - added to on a regular basis. Examples include

  • Posts on a blog
  • Posts in a certain category on blog
  • A Facebook timeline
  • Posts to a Twitter account
  • Videos in a YouTube channel
    ...

You get the idea I think.

Think of an RSS feed for a channel as an "administrator" that makes a "log entry" each time a there is a new post made to a channel.  Typically, each log entry consists of the title of the post, an extract of the content, any associated image, various items of metadata and a link to the post itself.

It's pretty much as simple as that.

An RSS feed is accessed via a URL - but what you see if you display it in your browser is a chunk of data not designed for human consumption.

The URL of the RSS feed for all posts of a blog is probably (but not necessarily) structured like this

http://anyblog.com/feed

Note that finding the actual URL of an RSS feed for any particular channel can sometimes be something of an issue.

As human beings, we make use of RSS feeds using an RSS Feed Reader, which monitors all the feeds you tell it to.

It goes to each RSS feed URL on a regular basis, and takes a look at the admin log to see if there's been a new entry since the last time it looked. It can then display the entry in nice, friendly human-readable ways!

What RSS Feed Reader To Use?

I spend some frustrating hours looking into this - so you don't have to!

Some years ago, the answer was easy - Google Reader.

But that got discontinued and I, like many people, found Feedly to be a perfectly viable alternative.

However, when I looked at it the other day, I found annoying restrictions which require a paid upgrade to overcome. That's when it became frustrating...

Until I found Inoreader.

inoreader

There is also an upgrade option with Inoreader, but I've not found any limitations for myself on the free version. There are LOTS of things you can do - including creating advanced filters on feeds, combining feeds, tagging them in multiple ways - etc. etc.

Brilliant!

Actions

Although these blog posts aren't supposed to be a step-by-step blueprint for people to follow, I'll include explicit action steps whenever I can.

  • Get hold of Right Relevance.
  • Experiment with various keywords and find some influencers.
  • Perhaps use some other tools to find influencers as well.
  • Find the blogs of the influencers and find the RSS feeds of those blogs
  • Get hold of Inoreader.
  • Add in the RSS feeds of the influencers.
  • Experiment with the features of the product - play around with it: there's lots to learn

That's all for now.

Let me know how you get on with those tools - and any problems you encounter.

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Alex