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I get asked this question a lot… and I often struggle to know how to answer it. The other day I actually sat back and considered the problem properly. I was sitting in a law firm and they were really nervous about [for that, read ‘refusing to point blank to ’] retweeting competitors. They asked what I recommended.

I realised something very interesting. I personally retweet my competitors every day. However… I regularly recommend that the law firms I work with not retweet their competitors. For some reason, I have been content to just chug along, embracing their risk-averse culture. There was no logic to it!

So, why do I retweet my competitors?

1.     They frequently have interesting things to say and publish articles that add value for my own followers.

2.     I want to demonstrate that I really read around the subjects.

3.     I want to demonstrate that I have a positive, reciprocal relationship with my peers.

4.     By retweeting I am able to develop relationships with competitors (which have resulted in referrals).

And why don’t my clients want to retweet other firms?

1.     They are worried that they’ll be promoting competitors and lose work to them.

2.     They’re worried that followers will think that they don’t know the answers for themselves, and therefore have to rely on other people’s content.

3.     They are worried about the risks associated with endorsing another firm’s opinions and knowhow

Frankly, it has never occurred to me that there might be anything wrong with my approach… so, who’s right?

It will take a confident firm to do it but I personally believe that social networking is all about sharing content, contacts and information. If you only ever communicate one-way traffic (information with your name on it) then it can soon get boring for followers. If you start to integrate that with wider content, from a variety of sources, then people start to see you as a properly rounded professional. They see that you respect your peers and understand that that means you are confident in your own ability. If you’re happy to retweet information from competitors it more often than not means that you agree with them… not that they know something you don’t. it adds value to your followers so surely that has to be the main objective? The fact is, we all read it… so why not share it? Yes, it’s a bullish approach, but I think it works.

So, what answer did I give to the question the other day? I said “yes, I think you should retweet competitors”… and then I scraped them off the floor!