One In Ten (Why Talking About Your Competitors Gets Your Customers Talking About You)

I just want to take a moment to pick-up on something Chris Brogan has said today on his blog, and expand on what I wrote in the comments there.

If you’re a business on Twitter, a great way to add followers, raise the engagement of those you have and build awareness of your brand is to talk about other people.

And the best way to do this is to talk about your competitors. And not in the negative sense that you might imagine.

In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do.

Let’s say you own a fashion company and you make and sell jeans. Really cool, ‘to die for’ jeans that every teenager will want to buy… if only they knew you existed.

How do you let them know? By talking about your industry. By talking about the major players within that industry. By talking about your direct competitors, which includes Levis and Diesel and Calvin Klein and everybody else you want to be associated with.

Search for news and gossip and blog posts about these companies, and the industry as a whole, and share them with your network. Re-tweet their own updates. Become a fan of their Facebook page. Don’t be scathing, don’t be bitchy, and don’t be an ass.

Be nice.

Be sensible, too. Your objective isn’t to try and increase the sales of these guys, but by making your Twitter account interesting to people who buy jeans will make your company interesting, too. Which makes your jeans interesting. Which will increase your own click-throughs, and your own sales.

Remember that very, very few of your customers will only exclusively buy your stuff and nothing else. They are going to shop around, and they are going to own more than one pair of jeans. Don’t bat below your average. Talk about brands you aspire to be like, to be connected with. Honestly, it’s okay to point at a competitor’s product and say, “I like this.”

Let’s talk about ratios. There’s a rule of thumb that I recommend to all clients, and I encourage you to memorise it: for each ten tweets you send out, only one of them should be about YOU. And if that YOU tweet is a direct sales tweet, it should be closer to one in twenty.

All of this will put you right on the edge of the information curve within your industry. Trust me: it’s a system that works. You can vary the ratio from time to time, but move too far the other way and people will start to ignore you (or, worse, think you’re a spammer, which is an irrecoverable position).

For new accounts, this is a critical mindset to adopt from day one. Pretty soon, others will see you as the expert. As the leader. As your own stock rises, your competitors will notice, too. And if all they’re doing is talking about themselves, and their products, you will win.