The best part about being a web designer is that I get to keep up with all of the new online tools. It also means I can check Facebook during the day without feeling guilty (right?).
Facebook is a powerful tool. No other tool in the history of human social behavior has been able to give people the mass level of connectedness that Facebook has. You can locate pretty much anyone on the network these days. Hell, both my mom and dad are on Facebook.
You can also find clients on Facebook.
Many people, especially those who lead a nightlife of questionable character, might find this concerning. Facebook is a tool for connecting with friends, not clients, right?
Wrong. Once you get over the realization that Facebook should not be your private getaway from professional interactions, you’ll extract much more power from it.
About 15 or 20% of my friends on the social networking giant have done business with me. That means these people who have paid for my services can access a piece of my personal life that was once inaccessible or hard to find out. Sounds strange? Sure, but building good client relations is all about sharing a little of yourself. Facebook just makes it easier.
Facebook has also made it easier to control who can see certain portions of your profile. Maybe you don’t want clients to see you drinking your favorite alcoholic beverage from a shoe. Privacy options can help you turn that capability off.
However, my rule of thumb with Facebook is that if I’m posting something that makes me think twice, I won’t post it at all. Facebook sometimes makes it too easy to embarrass yourself. Most of my clients have fairly unlimited access to my profile (ok, they don’t need to know my relationship status) and I intend on keeping it that way. If a client wants to learn more about me, excellent. It will only strengthen our ties.
Facebook also gives you the opportunity to interact with a client on a different level. You can post to their wall on their birthday, send them a thank you message, share a link and just generally be their friend. I think that’s pretty good for business.
Now, during this writing I did not mention fan pages. I’m only speaking of your individual profile. Fan pages are great tools for companies that want to have a presence on Facebook. That’s a fact. But compared to your own personal profile I find them to be impersonal, too restrained and sometimes really boring. People want to be friends with you, not your company (hence the “fan” terminology which is a weaker relationship).
If up to this point you haven’t used Facebook to connect with clients, maybe now is the time to reconsider. Streamline your profile in preparation for making these connections and start reaching out. Some clients may actively friend request you, or if you bump into a client in person (imagine that), you can mention Facebook during the conversation. At least spend a little time researching to see if your clients are on Facebook, and if they have an open profile, see what they’re like.
I close this article with a few Facebook hints and tips:
- Prepare your Facebook profile to start handling client friends. That means you may want to remove any lewd photos or comments. Why keep those anyway?
- De-friend any odd connections you have. Who knows, that weirdo whose friend request you stupidly accepted may start posting strange voodoo spells on your wall.
- Remove or hide your political stuff.
- For the love of pie, do not post obnoxious, trivial or flat-out weird status updates. At all.
- Don’t post status updates every 10 minutes. You’re not that cool.
- Monitor with extreme enthusiasm anyone who posts responses to your status updates or posted items. I’ve seen some really disturbing responses posted to other people’s items. Respond to or remove that stuff.
- Do not ever, I repeat, ever complain about any clients or business-related items.
- Do not setup a separate business profile on Facebook. Don’t be lazy.
- Do not let clients see photos of what other people have tagged you in. Ever. I once had a client’s ass tagged and it showed up in my news feed.
- Do add your web site links, RSS feeds, business information and other useful stuff to your profile.
- Do not become a spammer and post business offers or hassle clients.
- Definitely do not mention any business-related issues to specific clients via Facebook unless they bring it up first. If they do, suggest you move the conversation off of Facebook. I remember one person used someone’s wall to setup a business meeting. Not very professional.
- Do create an album of your community work or photos of you doing charitable work. People love people who help others out.
- Lastly, maintain your profile. Don’t become a ghost or a lurker. Engage and interact.