“Do we block competitors from following us, or is this just something that happens in social media?”

We often hear this question from clients after being notified a direct competitor is following their company on Twitter. In the words of Drew, copying, or in this case following, is a form of flattery. It’s always better to be chased than be the chaser.

The real answer here is you can block competitors on Twitter, but it doesn’t really make a difference. When you block a competitor or another follower on Twitter, the user can no longer do a few things:

  • Follow you
  • See your profile picture on their page or timeline
  • Have their @replies show in your mentions tab
  • Add your Twitter account to their lists
  • Tag you in a photo

Blocking a competitor from following you on Twitter doesn’t stop them from gathering Twitter data in other ways. If your Tweets are public, they are still visible on your public profile page to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Twitter account or not. Your competitor can monitor your Twitter profile under a different alias or through social media monitoring platforms like Radian6 or even Tweetdeck.

Luckily, blocking a user doesn’t send a notification to the user, and, in most cases, the user may not even notice that they’ve been blocked. But once they do, it can leave the impression you have something to hide. Plus, shouldn’t your time and energy go toward creating and maintaining relationships with people you do want to know?

If your competition is following you on Twitter, it means they’re most likely trying to decipher how you engage with your customers. Say for example, your customers are complaining about one of your products. If you avoid engaging in a conversation to resolve the issue and your competitor is listening in, they could easily swoop in, offering an alternative.

Our suggestion? Outdo your competitors.

Upstage your competition by offering the best customer service you can. Listen to your customers’ needs. Offer solutions. Show them you’re not a robot, and there are actually people behind the Twitter account who care. Work to establish your company as an authority in your industry. Create branded content that wows your followers. Make it so you are the go-to resource.

Employing both good customer service and creating unique content makes it harder for your competitors to copy your ideas and work. Sharing the brilliant, reliable knowledge work your company is doing means you are on the right track. You shouldn’t even have to think twice about your competition following you on Twitter.