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April 28, 2009

When Competition Doesn’t Matter

In this post: A look into the point at which industry competition becomes irrelevant …

Jaimy SzymanskiNot a day goes by on Twitter when I don’t see a good amount of people tweet something to the effect of:

@JaneSmith Just pitched a full social media program to a new client! Or … @JohnDoe Putting the final touches on a digital push for a law firm, then flying out to D.C.

What’s common about these two tweets (besides their obviously creative pseudo @ names) is the anonymity of client information. The majority of those I follow who tweet messages like these keep client information 99% confidential, with the most information disclosed being the type of client or their geographic area.

That is, unless they’re a thought leader in their industry. Then, these rules often seem to go out the window.

I follow a large handful of social media, digital, branding, customer experience and design experts/thought leaders. Recently, I’ve noticed that, if they tweet about a client meeting or project, they usually come right out and say the client name, sometimes going as far as the actual person they’re meeting with and what the project entails.

Now, why is that? Is it because these individuals have such a greater competitive advantage over their peers that they feel it doesn’t matter if they disclose what they’re doing with clients, or who their clients are? Because, if you’re a renowned thought leader in your field, it would make sense that your opinion/advice/consultancy is trusted above the majority of “competing” industry players anyway, so the idea of niche “competition” is somewhat irrelevant.

It does make me wonder though … What’s the tipping point? At what juncture does an individual or company make the decision that it’s no longer an issue if lurking competitors on Twitter mine the stream to see what they’re up to, and who they’re targeting for business?

Also, more importantly – Do the clients themselves realize that their potentially confidential information is being shared online? Perhaps, after a period of sustained success is reached, that doesn’t matter to a client either.