"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Social Media Savvy for Savvy Writers--Why you May Not Want to be FaceBook Friends With Clients...

"You have 1 notification" read my Thursday's Email.
Another FaceBook request. Another one from one of my cherished clients.
Initially, I considered it a positive gesture. Very groovy. 
After all, people typically opt to become social media friends with those whom they admire, or want to know more about.

Not to mention, social media has the ability to expand writers' reach and influence exponentially--increasing their fan base and ultimately their bottom line.
A win/win, right?
Not always...

Here's the downside.
Just like medication administered to improve our health, social media must be used under the right circumstances and in the right dosages to be effective and enhance us. I'm sure you've read and heard of people who have lost jobs based upon what they "shared" online; whether it was inappropriate pictures by politicians, rants by disgruntled workers, or corporate secrets divulged. Not being social media savvy can have dire consequences.
Choose carefully.

Or think of it this way. If you were giving an intimate "gathering" in your home, would you invite All the people you know at church, at work, and in the neighborhood?
More than likely you wouldn't.
Of course, it's not that you would have anything to "hide," it's just that you are keenly aware that different groups or "audiences" have different views, different interests, different sensibilities, and different types of associations. If not, you should. :-)

With this is mind, here are a few compelling reasons why you should be selective in "Friending" your clients.

  1.  We are judged by the company we keep. Like most folks, I take great pride in my personal friends. Categorically, they are bright, funny, warm, diverse, spiritual people; and I feel blessed to know them. Still, from time to time, these free spirits forget that we have an "outside audience" when they post things via social media. Take for instance my pal "Paul"--- who last year, when going through marital issues with his wife, shared a rather "passionate" view on why he thinks marriage "sucks" and how to avoid being a "sucker." He used profanity and a few provocative images, that unfortunately didn't put him in the best light. I've also had friends to share jokes that were off color, (or controversial) as well. You may not share their views, but it may be assumed by association that you do.  
  2. It's usually not wise to mix business with pleasure. Though people use FaceBook for connecting, and to build their platform as writers, I see it as more of a recreational medium than professional. For example, people will "tag" you, share photos, invite you to "beat their scores" with certain games, and even post local events to attend in their area. I've also been stalked contacted by former suitors to re-establish contact. Suffice it to say, that it's not in your best interest to have clients exposed to too much information or too much potential drama. Let's "FACE" it; folks don't always post things to your "wall" that are flattering, prudent, or even true. Can you afford for clients to get the wrong impression?
  3. The mentality that "the more the merrier" doesn't always apply with social media. I would much rather have a modest "following" of folks who support my projects, purchase my books or services, and serve as my faithful "cheerleaders," than a high number of random individuals that really could care less about who I am and what I stand for. You don't have to have a big following to have "major" influence.   
  4. You may not necessarily want your clients to know that you're vacationing and booze-ing it up in the Bahamas, or that you plan to give them 2 weeks notice because they're a pain to work with. "Never bite the hand that feeds you."
  5. The world is smaller than you think.
  6. Freedom of Speech isn't always "free." 

Here are a few alternatives to help you to stay connected with your cherished clients in a quality, friendly way:

  • Consider including them in your LinkedIn network. It's a great venue for professional associations, that allows you to share your creative resume, join groups targeted to your interests, and connect with others, while maintaining strictly "professional" interactions.
  •    Send Email blasts for items of interests or calendar of events. You've written an interesting article that was published on a popular site. Or you'll be conducting a workshop in your area. Or you would like to get feedback on an important project. An Email blast will often fit the bill! Just make sure to bcc (blind carbon copy) to protect everyone's email address and personal information.
  • Send birthday cards, personal notes, newspaper clippings, gifts, thank you cards, etc. via snail mail.  In a technological world, a "personal touch" communicates volumes.
  • Create a newsletter just for clients. It could include time management tips, birthdays of the month, book reviews, industry happenings, etc.
If you simply must connect via FaceBook, consider adjusting your privacy settings accordingly. Follow these timely tips to preserve your online image, and to avoid "Face-ing the music" with valued clients.

Your turn.
 Agree or disagree? Do you have a personal policy regarding clients and social media?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Mixing business with pleasure is always a slippery soap. Being a teacher I have to be extra mindful of what I post on Facebbok. I have former students as friends, but they are adults now. Even with people who are not clients, you have to be careful. When my friends post things that I feel are inappropriate for my page, I hide the posts.

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksOctober 14, 2013 at 7:12 AM


    You make some good points here; heck, I didn't even know folks could "hide" posts on FaceBook. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  3. Being in the Motivational Speaking business to bridge the gap in Generational Communication, I freely open my FB posts to all. For me, the key is in which Friendship requests I accept, and there are times where I'll in-box someone listed as a mutual friend to confirm they know the person.

    Now, I'm not super social media savvy... but apparently I've done "something" whereby I don't get a lot of "posts" on my Wall, though I will see them in the News feed. Am I confusing the two? (no need to answer that, because I'm ok with how I handle it...) With 3600+ friends, and my not being addicted to sitting and responding to everything posted, I catch a glimpse of 'some' of the posts. When the language or direction (ie: politics) is not mainstream, I comment to offer another way of looking at what is being shared. Thus, if I'm commenting on foul language used by my friends, generally their 'return' comments will speak to any of my friends who were insulted but then see how they might have been judgmental regarding the original post... because the return post will usually be an apology to "Mr. Sporty," and appreciate my guiding them toward another way of sharing...

    If this exchange happens to be based on age difference, perhaps now my 'different' friends will see a way for them to connect.

    I've also had friends going back and forth arguing political views. I posted a neutral statement and left the conversation. They are still both my friends. There are times where my posts are strictly aimed at sheading light on a situation without taking a side. Thus, I think the whole 'posting rules' thing is a big IT DEPENDS.

    Meanwhile, no matter how well the 'rules' are stated... I originally read that LinkedIn connections are supposed to be people you 'really' know (as apposed to the strangers on FB). If you want to connect with someone with whom you have a mutual friend, you're "supposed" to click the "Get Introduced" option. Since this is supposed to be the "professional" site, I agree that the option is a good professional use. Every week I get connection requests from people who bypass that option. Every time I reject their request, without my bothering to check with our mutual friends. IT DEPENDS. LOL

  4. Sporty,

    I dig where you're coming from. A lot "depends." I admit that I have connected with quite a few people that requested to be "linked" to me on LinkedIn; some of whom I don't really know, but wanted to honor their professional requests. Like you, I admit that I'm not an expert on social media. You make some good points here. Thanks for adding to the mix. I value your input. :-)

  5. All of my business connections are just that - business, and LinkedIn is our place to connect. My personal FB page is for me to say what I want, within respectable boundaries, which I do. Definitely separate personal and professional.

    1. Thanks, Marcie. I appreciate hearing from you on this timely topic.

  6. These are great points and proactive ideas. Not one to "live out loud" I am careful about what I share on social media, even going so far as to delete my status if I have second thoughts about it. It is a tricky balance, and something to monitor regularly.

    1. Sometimes, "less is more," right? :-) Always a pleasure to connect with you, Karen. Thanks!

  7. This just in From Faith Elle commenting from Sweden:

    I'm a natural social butterfly and my 3500 Facebook friends, whom I all know, would agree.

    As a former school administrator, I was careful never to friend current students. I do, however, befriend and connect with my former students via social media and LinkedIn. Now that I'm a life coach for girls and women I find that our young women put way too much information and inappropriate pictures and comments on social media. I believe that their keeping in touch with me gives them a personal and tangible example of how to tastefully show who you are in a real way without doing damage to their reputation. Likewise, it's a great way for them to become my virtual "amen corner". I also help to link them with internships, letters of recommendations and job opportunities by posting them in my Facebook status.

    Overall, I think it depends on what your business involves. In my case, I believe mixing business and pleasure only shows that my personal and private lives are full of integrity and allows parents and possible clients to trust me more. "

    Faith Elle Enterprises

    1. Faith,
      How awesome! And yet another reason why I'm proud and tickled pink to have you as MY client. :-) Thanks so much for chiming in here. See you soon :-)

    2. Oh yeah...love the concept of an "Amen corner," girl. :-)

  8. Agreed, agreed, agreed. I was talking about this with someone the other day who disagrees with you and I on this. Like you, I also view FB as more of a recreational medium than a professional one. I used to have a professional FB account and deleted it because of some of your points--people would engage in very unfortunate rants on their pages (and mine) due to whatever bump they were enduring in their private lives. After deleting a few of those passages and privately reminding those people to go ahead and vent on their own pages not mine, I decided that FB as a professional tool wasn't worth the hassle. Many people can't separate professional from personal when it comes to FB. So I deleted my professional FB account.

    I also used to have a personal FB account. I was engrossed by it at first. And then I noticed how nasty people were to each other over innocuous status updates. I know two grown women who stopped speaking in real life over a FB argument about K-cups. K-cups! Two other grown women unfriended each other on FB over a disagreement about parenting. It got to the point where I felt like I liked my friends more prior to joining FB, so I deleted my personal FB account months ago and have yet to miss it. It's so nice to get back to face time and phone calls with friends, instead of witnessing two girlfriends unravel their friendship over seemingly trivial FB posts. If you wouldn't make the statement in a crowded room, you shouldn't make it online.

    Timely and important observation, my friend. Be well.

    1. Excellent feedback from you on FB, dear one. I actually saw something on TV--can't remember whether it was on Dr. Phil or Judge Mathis where someone actually had a physical fight over their FB status. Go figure. :-)
      I really appreciate your insight on this; thanks for taking the time.

  9. I completely agree with your post. I like to keep my Facebook account to people I know personally, not professionally, and I let clients know that if they ask to be Facebook friends. I try to connect with them through LinkedIn, Google + or Twitter, which I use professionally. You can also create a business page on Facebook where your clients can follow you and you can keep it professional; it doesn't have the same two-way interaction as the regular Facebook accounts and it's completely separate from your personal Facebook page.

    1. Hi Sharon,

      Welcome; so glad you could join us! There are certainly times when you can "mix business with pleasure." But it requires some thoughtful "navigation." :-) I love your point about creating a separate Facebook page for business. "Write on!" I really appreciate your time and input here.