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?
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
stalkedcontacted 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?
- 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.
- 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."
- The world is smaller than you think.
- 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.
Agree or disagree? Do you have a personal policy regarding clients and social media?