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How to Stalk Your Competitors’ Customers on Twitter

Why You Should Stalk Your Competitor's Customers on Twitter

It might sound like strange advice, but a little Twitter stalking can go a long way.

Forbes had a great writeup earlier this week about Verizon’s “Twitter stalking” of its competitor’s customers. And I think most businesses – even those without the large marketing and social media budget of a company like Verizon – could learn from their example.

Verizon’s customer service Twitter account is known for reaching out to customers who are experiencing trouble, but an accidental tweet from this account illuminates the strategy behind the latest in digital customer service.

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This tweet – which has since been deleted – points to the fact that Verizon is targeting highly influential Twitter users to politely harass with offers of help. In all likelihood, the tweet was meant to remain internal, as a message to whoever is manning the account to pay attention to an influential user next time they logged on to do a “how can we help you” blitz.

The influencer in question, @James_Yammouni, is a member of a popular YouTube comedy group and, more importantly, a T-Mobile customer.

As Forbes explains, the now-deleted Verizon tweet was sent right around the time that Yammouni was complaining about his T-Mobile service.

This shows us two things: 1) Verizon has developed a highly sophisticated social listening program and 2) They’re targeting their competitors’ unhappy, influential customers. Let’s go through each of these in turn.

Your social listening program. If you’re not using Twitter to listen to customers, you’re missing out on one of its most significant benefits. Since Twitter is an open network, you have the opportunity to use tools and search to discover what anyone is saying about any topic, in real time.

Because of this, you can tap into your own competitors’ unhappy customer base. Just by setting up a few searches using keywords like “competitor’s name” and “bad”, “terrible”, “hate” and the like, you can build yourself a robust listening program. And if you plug these saved searches into a dashboard like HootSuite, you’ll be able to listen in to the grumblings whenever you want.

Targeting influencers. The other half of the Verizon equation is that they aren’t focusing their efforts on just any customer – they’re targeting influencers. They’re either manually (by visiting the profiles of complaining customers and doing hands-on research) or automatically (by using a tool like Little Bird) tracking who’s influential and who isn’t. This allows them to allocate their efforts accordingly.

By setting up your own “customer stalking program” on Twitter, you might just be able to catch influential customers while they’re frustrated, and offer your own product or service as an alternative to their headache.

(Stalker image via Shutterstock)

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