I manage marketing and social media for some of my clients, and imagine my surprise when I found that a marketing services vendor in my network was following not one, not two, but many of my clients or customers on Twitter. I’m on my Friday morning marketing soapbox to say that this is not only creepy, it’s sad, and it can happen to you!
It’s sad for the marketer who doesn’t have enough customers and connections to build a social network organically like I did. It’s sad for someone who has to follow and not lead.
Despite all the sadness around these types of lowly copycats, it does happen and there are things you can do about it. Opportunistic companies can copy your connections on social networks like Twitter and your Facebook company page, because both allow people to follow or like you without your permission (unlike LinkedIn or a Facebook personal profile).
So what can you do when a competitor stalks your customers?
1. Read my post from yesterday, Valentine’s Day, How to Love Your Customers with Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing is the art of attracting, engaging and nurturing prospective customers so that they become new customers or buy more of your products and services.
2. Keep creating valuable and helpful content and messages. A key to successful inbound marketing is having great content and messaging. Chances are that if your competitor has to follow your contacts, they won’t have much original material either.
3. Show up in new and innovative ways (Twitter chats, Google+ circles are two examples – join #b2bchat on Twitter Thursdays at 5 PM PDT).
4. Be original, organic and true. Don’t be a follower.
Others have written about this topic – see the great posts below. By the way, if someone steals your content, I agree with David Lechnyr in the post below, What to Do When Someone Steals Your Work – use Copyscape.com (I used it when 2 consultants copied articles on my site – my blood pressure went up, but it felt good to find that they copied me, contact them and demand that they take my content off their sites, and off an online publication one submitted my article to!)