Social Media Playground Tactic: Twitter Blocking Competition

Social media to me is about sharing. It's about giving your best goods. It's about collaboration. It's where friends, partners, clients and even competition come together for the good of the whole.

Today I had something strange happen in the world of social media. Something I had never really thought of or dealt with before.

We received notification on one of our social listening reports that one of our local competitors had “blocked” us on Twitter.

Have you ever thought about what you would do or what you would think if the same happened to you?

Note: I don't care about this person's tweets.  The statement the action of “twitter blocking” leaves behind is a very interesting conversation in my opinion.

What is one Tweeter really telling a fellow Tweeter when they block them on Twitter? Is it equivelant to sticking your tongue out in an immature way and then running and hiding? I personally have only blocked a couple folks on Twitter. One was sending yucky porno type DMs to me and the other was a complete spammer.

I had never thought of blocking a competitor. I am a believer in collaboration. The universe is big. Twitter is huge and there are plenty of fish in the sea to keep food on the table for our families.  I am also quite confident in my ability to differentiate my skills and services.  We have many competitors and pseudo competitors who we communicate with regularly, share ideas, share leads and genuinely help. Business is about partnering and relationships. What would we be online without friends anyway?

This particular person hangs in the same networking and business circles we do. We see the person often. They've also been known to have content very similar to ours. Seem to always follow what we launch, how we package services, what we say and do. Has been somewhat entertaining to watch in all honesty. So the Twitter blocking though surprising is really not a big shocker. Probably the only one in our neck of the woods who I could see doing such.

The part that bothers me is that we have genuinely reached out to this person in the past. We have leads we could share today. Leads that aren't right for our company but could very well be right for theirs. We also have several very strategic relationships launching in early 2011 that could put a wet damper on this person's biz in a big way. We were trying to initially help this person and align appropriately before the strategic launches kick off in 2011.

My thoughts:

  • Twitter blocking competition of this sort breaks all rules of social media etiquette and business common sense.
  • Business and life 101: Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.
  • Twitter is an open platform. If you don't want your tweets to be public then you shouldn't be tweeting.
  • Twitter blocking in reality is a joke as you can search for tweets.
  • If you want to hide from competition, don't tweet. Pretty straight forward!
  • Social media is about collaboration.
  • The greatest benefit of social media is what we can do for the greater whole with collaboration. When collaboration and communication is stomped it is the charities, the small biz's who get hurt.  They need us to work together for the goodness of the whole.
  • Relationships are key to success in business, social media and life.
  • Cherish each and every relationship and think twice before burning a bridge with anyone, including your competition!
  • I know I have many competitors following me, subscribed to my email list, Linked to me on LinkedIn, fans of my Facebook page.  In reality I love it. Most of them engage, we share best practices and we build authentic relationships.
  • Yes, we probably all have spies and lurkers watching us.  I say WHO CARES! If they want to spend all day reading my tweets, lurking on my site… go for it! I'm happy to be a thought leader for their biz and their customers.  I am also genuinely happy to help someone else build a biz and a life for themselves!
  • If a social media consultant is behaving in such a way for their own business, what are they doing when managing client Twitter accounts? Will they also start blocking their competitors?  Will they start blocking me from their client accounts? I could be a potential client for their clients?
  • The blocker misses out also on my competitive information. I have an open door, open blog and open tweet policy! I can guarantee she has much more to gain from my tweets and content than visa versa!
  • If you are feeling the need to block a competitor on Twitter, I encourage you to think twice.  Instead focus on differentiating yourself.  Take the same time you're worrying about and blocking your competition and instead focus on your own business, the unique value you offer your audiences.  If you do this, you'll probably find the competitor could be your friend, your ally and someone who you could do lots of social good with for the greater whole of your local community!

Obviously I am not going to give this a second thought after the initial shock. When I saw it on the report today our team had to laugh out loud.  What I don't like is the uncomfortableness it puts in a relationship that could have been something positive. Something positive not only for us and individuals or individual business. What it hurts the most is the bigger whole. The charities we could have supported together, the small biz's we could have helped with collaboration and the list goes on.

Relationships are key to life.  Burning one bridge over a tweet stream is not something you'll ever see this nut doing.  I hope that my friends, family and fellow tweeters follow the same ethical values and never fall to the playground tactics of how some think they're engaging in social media.  If a client of mine ever decides to resort to such behavior they will also probably find themselves in need of a new marketing and social media agency.

Your Turn!

What are your thoughts? Has this ever happened to you? What will you think if it does?

You can also join our LinkedIn discussion!


About the Author:

CEO / Founder Marketing Nutz, full service social media, digital marketing, experiential brand, conversion optimization agency. Ranked by Forbes as Top 10 Social Media Women and 10 Social Media Power Influencer. Keynote speaker, author, strategist, consultant, coach, & trainer. Helps businesses of all sizes integrate social media into the DNA of their business, connect with target audiences to nurture authentic customer relationships. 15+ years experience working with Fortune 500, Franchised corporations with 4000+ local franchises to entrepreneurs and startups.


  1. Paul O'Mahony (Cork) November 17, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Thank you for your post. It certainly captured my interest – quickly. It certainly impressed me by the way you sustained the post so that it became comprehensive. I feel you've given me a useful piece of thinking around which to move.

    I recently had the experience of meeting someone in tears – they'd been “un-followed” by a cluster of people – who seemed to revolve round one person (they'd also been “blocked”). We spent about 75 minutes talking about what had happened & the emotional devastation it caused. So I am ripe for your story…
    The drama of being blocked – and even the drama of being un-followed – on Twitter. A new drama to add to our dramatic world – our emotional & commercial playground…

    Intellectually I agree with the complete thrust of your argument. However – I do have one reservation which holds me back from giving your approach a thorough thumbs-up. You may even have felt the “but” coming…

    What if this is not the way you see it? What if there is a weird explanation? What is this was never intended?

    It happened to me – I found myself blocked by someone I wanted to contact. Not a competitor – but you never know who feels themselves to be a competitor. I was blocked by someone whose advice I wanted to get, someone I felt entirely positive towards. I was perplexed. It was the first time I'd been blocked – and I have a track-record of not burning bridges… I was bothered by the experience.

    So I looked for advice from someone who knew the other person well. I tweeted them, asked them what they made of the blocking. I won't bore you with the details of what happened next but…
    I got on the phone with @conoro and it all turned out to have been an accident… An error… Not done deliberately. There turned out to be a comedic element, a random act of un-intention.

    So I found myself saying to myself, “what if she's wrong?” What if she went about this in a roundabout way? Do I detect an undertone of “I'll get my own back”?

    On further reflection, if you'd been totally restrained in public, we would not have your excellent blogpost – the emotionality of the issue would have been lost to us. And I value your rich thought on this. I'll share your stuff – probably not in a twitter link but certainly in many conversations.

    Thank you very much.
    (ps @marketingwrite is also me)

    • PamMktgNut November 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks so much Paul for your thoughtful comment. Sorry to hear about what happened to your colleague. Hopefully it all turned out okay.

      In reality, I guess these types of things shouldn't come as a surprise in that social media is about people. It's about relationships. So, put people behind the tweet wheel with other people and emotions will fly. Tweets will be sent emotionally…. and yes, blocks are probably done emotionally.

      What I have enjoyed the most since the first day I step foot into social media was just this, the people side. I love the organism that social media is. I love the DNA and how it brings out the real DNA of a biz and people.

      As for this incident it's pretty much passed. It makes a relationship uncomfortable but life will go on. It's not the kind of folk we'll be passing on leads to. As I prayed about the past couple of days I learned that it is God's way of protecting us. He has brought many Christian business people to our side. Many who stand proud and call us partners. It's His way in telling us to continue to put our faith in those with the same beliefs and values. Although these types of things are not what we like to see and not how we like to be treated by even one person. For each one person as such, there are 99 others out there with integrity, willing to collaborate and partner in life, not just on Twitter.

      As for if this person did it as an accident, I truly doubt it. She is a “social media consultant” so knows the tools and is not a newbie. There is other reasons too which I prefer to not share online. We'll definitely give her the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to discuss. Life is too short and our communities are too small to behave as such in my opinion.

      This particular incident is really not the focus. What I wanted to to was open the discussion as I always do. I want to encourage people to not act emotionally in social media. Don't base your business on emotional insecurities. They need to be secure in who they are and what they can offer their customers. It is the insecurities that drive such behavior. It drives the copycat mentality, competitor poaching, blocking and the list goes on. Social media is so easy to do in a moment's notice without thinking. My point is people need to think before they act in both business and life. They need to realize those backs which they stab are the ones who could have helped them the most both short and long term.

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