Most likely, one of the reasons you’re on Twitter is because of your customers. Businesses have taken to Twitter in droves to nurture existing customer relationships, attract new customers, field customer questions and complaints, and generally build a presence in their customers’ minds.
However, all of this interaction with your customers can leave you vulnerable to the prying eyes of your competitors. With a few quick clicks and some search know-how, competitors can see who your top customers are, and even your strategy for interacting with them.
Because most businesses consider their customer list a trade secret, spending some time ensuring that it’s as safe as possible will, at the very least, make your competitors’ lives more difficult.
Keep important conversations private
First, it’s important to know which of your social activities are public and which are not, in order to protect yourself – and your customer list.
Of course, everything you tweet is public. Likewise with retweets and @replies and @mentions. DMs, however, are private, so it’s a good idea to keep the most sensitive topics pertaining to your customers here. If a customer has a questions about your product, and you suspect the answer could be useful to the competition, try answering privately through DM.
Create plenty of private Twitter lists
Who you follow is public knowledge. Anyone can click over to your profile and see the full list of who you’ve chosen to follow. And if you’re following your top customers, your competitors now have access to your VIP client list.
Following your top customer may seem like a good strategy at first glance. You get to keep tabs on what they tweet about, and possibly learn about their interests as they pertain to your product or service. Plus, you signal to them that you want to connect to them socially.
And if you add them into lists, you can categorize them into potential leads, loyal customers, longterm partners and other groups.
But you probably do not want to make these lists public. It makes it too easy for the competition to see who you’re connected to and how.
Instead, create private lists and categorize your customers without anyone else knowing. Private lists mean that you can still organize your customer list in such a way that you can implement a customer relations strategy without giving your strategy away.
You can still follow all of your customers, but this way your competition won’t be able to distinguish one type from another – and if you’re following a few thousand accounts, they probably won’t bother sorting through all of the data anyway.
Protect your tweets
You don’t want to create a protected account (since that severely limits who can see your tweets), but rather be cautious when interacting publicly with VIPs. If you tweet consistently to just a handful of accounts, that’s a pretty big clue that those accounts are the ones that matter most to you.
Instead, try spreading out your VIP tweets in between other interactions, so the spotlight isn’t on these customers when your competitor visits your profile.
The public nature of Twitter means that the competition will be able to glean something about your digital strategy by checking out your profile – how much they learn depends on how secure your keep your customer list and other important company information.
(Businessman image via Shutterstock)