Should You Connect with Your Prospects and Clients on Facebook?

If you’ve been a freelancer for a while, you will eventually get a request from a client or prospective client to connect on Facebook.

While normally we encourage freelancers to connect with clients through social media, for many freelancers Facebook is different.

Because Facebook has become mainstream for many, particularly in the U.S., a freelancer may be connected to a wide spectrum of friends and relatives on Facebook who have absolutely nothing to do with their business. For that reason, many freelancers hesitate before accepting that friend request from a prospect.

On the other hand, some freelancers claim that a Facebook connection with a prospective client is much more likely to turn into a business relationship than other types of social media connections.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the advantages to connecting with clients through Facebook. We’ll also look at some of the disadvantages of connecting with clients through Facebook.

Advantages of Connecting via Facebook

There’s no doubt that Facebook is popular. Exactly how popular it is varies depending on who you are talking to, but at the time that I created this post Facebook’s own press room claimed over 500 million active users–so that’s probably a fairly good figure.

With so many active users, the odds are high that your clients and prospects are already on Facebook. This is particularly true if your target audience is consumers.

Here are some advantages of opening your Facebook account up to clients:

  • Expands your audience. Depending on your client’s settings, you may also get exposure to their Facebook friends who may be in similar businesses.
  • Allows you the opportunity to make special offers. Many businesses make special deals available only through Facebook and you can do the same.
  • Encourages casual interactions. Facebook lets you get to know your clients and prospects better in a more casual environment.
  • It’s becoming expected. Let’s face it, in some fields and for some businesses, Facebook interaction with clients is becoming the norm.
  • May lead to quicker business relationships. As I mentioned earlier, some of those who connect with prospects through Facebook claim to get better results.

At Freelance Folder, we connect with our readers through our popular Facebook fan page, which now has over 6,000 members. We have discovered that our fan page allows us to get to know our readers better.

Although Facebook definitely offers advantages for client/freelancer relations, there are some disadvantages as well.

Disadvantages of Connecting via Facebook

Before you jump on the bandwagon and invite all your clients and prospective clients to become your Facebook friend, you may wish to also consider some of the disadvantages of using Facebook to connect:

  • Changing terms. Facebook is a complex social media platform that changes fairly frequently. It can be hard to keep up with.
  • Reputation management. Brand management can be more difficult on Facebook because it is likely that some of your connections are family members who are clueless about branding.
  • Privacy issues. Some of the changes that Facebook has undergone over the years have included changes to their privacy policy.
  • Interruptions. Because the friend chat feature allows your friends to see when you are online, you may find clients using this to contact you this way when you use it.
  • Learning curve. Because Facebook is a complex tool, it can take a long time to learn and fully understand it.

Alternatives to Friending Clients on Facebook

So, you’ve thought it over and you really don’t want your client to see your thirteen year old’s angry rants on your Facebook wall.

Or, perhaps you have an obnoxious “Uncle Pete” whose online rants embarrass everybody–but you can’t unfriend him without causing a family feud.

Yet, there it is in your email inbox. A Facebook friend request from your client. What should you do now?

If you’ve decided not to use Facebook for your freelancing business, you have several options:

  • Create a Facebook fan page for your freelancing business. A fan page will allow you to use Facebook to connect with clients without letting them see your entire Facebook account.
  • Redirect them to another social media tool. Say something like, “I don’t use Facebook for business, but I’d love it if you’d connect with me on LinkedIn.”
  • ‘Fess up. Tell your client something like this, “I really only use my Facebook account to keep track of my teen and connect with my out-of-state relatives.”

Which strategy you use is totally up to you.

Whatever you decide, remember that one of the beauties of freelancing is that how you market your freelancing business is up to you. In the corporate world, some companies make employees divulge their Facebook profiles, but as a freelancer you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Your Turn

Do you use Facebook to connect with clients? Why, or why not?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by Johann Larsson