How to Prevent Competitors From Stealing Your Clients From Facebook

How to Prevent Competitors From Stealing Your Clients From Facebook

December 10, 2014
Josh Light

Recently, I met with a friend who runs a popular catering business. He was venting to me about how one of his local competitors had used his business Facebook account to locate his clients. Once located, his competitor was calling up each client, and giving them a substantial discount to switch over to his company. Needless to say, my friend was pretty torqued off.

He came to me asking how he could prevent this from happening. In this article I’ll explain some of things you can do to prevent this from happening to you.

Use a Facebook Fan Page

A lot of local businesses make the mistake of creating a personal Facebook page for their business. As a business, you need to have a Facebook Fan Page. We cover the reasons for this extensively in this article, “7 Reasons You Should be Using a Facebook Business Page“.

In addition to the points brought up in the above article, using a personal page for your business opens you up to getting your client list stolen fairly quickly.

A personal Facebook page lists out all of your friends. As a business, your friends are either fans or clients. All a competitor has to do is click on your “friends” and they’ll have access to part of your client list.

Your friends list isn’t public information. In order to view someone’s “friends” list, you have to be friends with them on Facebook. This might seem like a relief if you’re afraid of your competitor stealing your client list, but all your competitor has to do is to get a mutual friend to disclose your “friends” list…and you’re screwed.

At the end of the day, having a personal page for your business is dangerous. If you have competitors who are willing to steal your clients from your Facebook account, then it’s not too far out to assume that they’d be willing to report you to Facebook. If they do this then Facebook will probably delete your Facebook page because it’s against their rules and you’ll lose all the value for that page that you’ve likely been building for years.

Creating a Facebook Fan Page will solve this problem. Facebook Fan Pages only list “likes”, and they don’t tell you who the “likers” are by name. This means that a competitor visiting your Facebook Fan Page can’t pull your client list from it.

Bonus: If you want to create a Fan Page then you should check out this article, “How to Set Up a Facebook Business Page in 3 Simple Steps“.

After remedying the mistake of using a personal page for your business, you need to take a moment to delete the personal page. Not taking this extra step will still allow your competitor to steal your clients from your inactive personal page.

Don’t Mention Clients on Your Page

Mentioning a client on your Page may seem like a great tactic for increasing engagement, but for some businesses it’s dangerous. Any business offering high priced products shouldn’t engage in mentioning clients on their Facebook Page because your competitors are willing to spend a lot of cash to acquire customers. It’s feasible for them to check for client mentions and make phone calls to acquire that client.

mention client on facebook

Don’t mention clients on your Facebook Page, unless you have a low price point.

On the other hand, businesses offering low priced products have to achieve a high volume to be profitable. These types of businesses have to have a low cost customer acquisition strategy in order to feasible, so they can run the risk of mentioning clients. Their competitors won’t spend the money and time to acquire them.

Pro Tip: If your competitor is stealing your clients from Facebook, then one tactic you can employ is to waste their marketing budget. Mention clients that you know won’t switch over to your competitors. This will cause your competitor to spend an entire day trying to steal clients that are unwilling to switch, and it might cause them to stop the practice all together.

Do Post Pictures From Your Events

You can still promote your business on Facebook without giving away your clients. For example, a catering business could take pictures of their food and share it on Facebook.

When posting pictures of your events, take caution not to give away locations or people that could reveal who your client is.

add location to post

Don’t use this feature.

Bonus: If you need more ideas on things to share to your Facebook Page, then you should check out this article, “50 Facebook Status Update Ideas for Small Businesses“.

Adjust Your Facebook Page Settings

After you’ve created a Facebook Fan Page for your business, you’ll need to adjust your “Settings” to prevent your Fans from giving away information about your clients. To access your “Settings”:

  • Go to your Facebook Fan Page
  • Click “Settings” in the upper left hand corner next to “Insights”

Once in “Settings” you’re going to need to adjust “Posting Ability”.

“Posting Ability” determines who can post to your Fan Page. You want to adjust this setting to “Review posts by other people before they are shown on my Page”. Doing this will give you the power of approving all content that appears on your Page before it goes public.

posting ability facebook setting

Change your posting ability to prevent Fans from revealing clients.

Changing this setting is critical because a Fan could accidentally give away client information. If a Fan does this, you should not approve their post, and send them a private message explaining why. Make sure to thank the Fan profusely for being active on your Facebook Page.

Use the Law

One option is to start using contracts with your client. Using contracts will bind your client to your business for some stated period of time.

My catering friend doesn’t like contracts. He feels that they make people lazy (he may be right). If you don’t like contracts, like my friend, then check out the next suggestion.

Use Packages

Packages are a great way to lock in a client for an extended period of time without having to use contracts. For example, my catering friend could offer discounts if a client decides to buy a package of five catering events instead of just ordering one catering event.

If my friend’s competitor calls the client and that client has ordered a five package deal, then the client will have the incentive to tell my friend’s competitor no because he still needs to use up his catering deal with my friend.

Pro Tip: Using packages also helps your cash flow because you’re collecting more money upfront from your client. Make sure not to spend all the money because you’ll need some of it to fulfill your clients order in the future. If you live in a country that has volatile currency, then you’ll need to put a time limit on when the packages need to be used up, or you may find yourself operating a loss if you home currency devalues before you’ve completed the fulfillment of the packaged deal.

Focus Facebook Content on Quality

My catering friend’s competitor was stealing his clients by offering a discount. He’d tell them that he’d give them a 20% discount from whatever my friend is currently offering them (unethical sales tactic).

If  your competitor is undercutting your price, then you need to focus on another value proposition. One option is to focus on value. For example, my friend could post pictures and status updates that illustrate his superior service or food. He could emphasis the great local ingredients that go into his meals or illustrate how his team always shows up on time.

Positioning your brand as a high value good may prevent you from losing some clients to competitors who are offering a price discount, and it may even cause your client to view your competitor as a “cheap” service. Besides, customers who buy on price are traditionally not great clients because, in the long run, they are not profitable customers.

Pro Tip: If you’re going to focus on quality then you should make sure your entire Facebook Page emphasizes quality. This means having a complete profile and an amazing cover photo. If you need help creating a custom cover photo then you should check out this article, “How to Customize Your Facebook Cover Photo“.

Reward Loyalty

Most businesses only provide discounts to new customers. This is a mistake, especially when your customers are paying high prices for your services, like in my friend’s case.

For example, my catering friend could provide a discount to clients who stay with him for two years. This would give his clients the incentive to stay with his business.

On Facebook, he could advertise this program to his Fans. Letting them know this program exists could generate more loyalty with his clients.

Pro Tip: In 2010, I did microfinance in Accra, Ghana. Our bank found that clients receiving their 3rd loan had a higher probability of default relative to any other loan cycle. Figure out when your clients are most likely to leave your company. For example, my catering friend could figure out that his clients turn into long-term customers after his third catering event. Once you figure out this magic number, offer rewards for clients who make it past your magic number or a packaged deal that gets you past the magic number.

Add Value

At the end of the day, the best way to fight competitors from stealing your clients is to add a ton of value. Make sure that every interaction with your customer is amazing. Make them like you. Ask for feedback, and adjust your business based on that feedback. Nothing can stop competitors faster than having a client that loves you.

Can you think of anything I missed? Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

(Photo Credit: Flickr via Pascal)