WATCH: How to use online breadcrumbs as a competitive edge

Cape Town – Companies can make better use of the “online breadcrumbs” that are scattered across the internet and which provide insights into competitors and clients, according to Meltwater CEO Jørn Lyseggen.

The San Francisco-based tech founder was speaking to Fin24 in a video interview in Cape Town, where he was sharing insights from his recent book, Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data.

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Lyseggen said the book’s message was that most companies don’t utilise much of the new information available on the internet.

“Most companies focus primarily on internal data when making decisions, but over the last few years, the internet has had so many different new data types,” he said. “We call them online breadcrumbs. We’re talking about job postings, web traffic data, Google ad spend, etc.

“The idea is that if you use that information you will better understand your competitors, clients and you will make much better informed decisions,” he said.

Lyseggen said a better grasp of online breadcrumbs can help companies be more prepared to manage reputational damage.

“Social media is very valuable in this regard,” he said. “A big part of these scandals often are found in social media, and there are lots of social media activities in South Africa and across Africa. That would be a very great place to start.”

WATCH: Interview with Meltwater CEO Jørn Lyseggen and Fin24's Matthew le Cordeur

Where to find online breadcrumbs

Explaining where firms can find online breadcrumbs, Lyseggen said they available all over the internet.

“If you’re on Facebook or Instagram and you post something, then you leave a personal breadcrumb,” he said.

“Big companies today are also leaving breadcrumbs. It’s very hard for a company to not leave breadcrumbs,” he said. “Whenever they launch an activity or initiative, it could be found online. If there is a problem with a company’s product, it trickles onto social media, so breadcrumbs are all over the internet.”

How to resolve state capture reputational damage

Asked how companies who get caught in the state capture narrative can be better prepared to respond to the public, Lyseggen said there are two key steps.

“First, you need to understand what people are saying, and whether their claims are right or whether their claims are wrong,” he said.

“Then you have an opportunity to do counter measures. Using social media analytics you can also then see those that you are not able to get your messages to. Social media is very valuable in that regard.”

Regarding the rise of US President Donald Trump through the use of social media, Lyseggen said his firm was able to predict Trump’s victory.

“I think one of the lessons … (is that we) have very powerful platforms that can dissimilate information really effectively,” he said. “It’s clear that Facebook is a platform that we need to be thoughtful about, how it’s really used. And thoughtful about how advertisers can utilise the strength and capability of that platform.

“There are a lot of concerns in the US that Facebook did not manage the Russia (influence of the) elections as well as it should,” he said.

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