That awkward moment when you login, click on the friend request notification and discover it’s one of your clients.
Sorry, but yes, I clicked “Not Now”, which we all know is Facebook’s nice way of saying “Probably Not Ever.” Now don’t get me wrong I like you! I really do! I think you’re a fantastic client and I truly enjoy collaborating with you during our UX sessions, content strategy meetings, design workshops, and WordPress trainings. I may even send you the occasional funny meme and we joke during our meetings. But let me share a little advice, from one professional to another, Facebook is not a professional social networking tool. And that’s why I clicked “Not Now”. And trust me, you’re not missing out on much. Facebook is where I post adorable pictures of my dogs, my bikes, family, and vacations. It’s also where I occasionally express my political beliefs and maybe a photo of a delicious dinner or Pale Ale. But none of this has anything to do with your project or our working relationship. So here are my reasons I think we should all think twice before befriending clients on Facebook.
- That friend who says whatever is on their mind – I think this speaks for itself. You may filter yourself or have nothing to hide on Facebook but it’s more than likely you have at least one or two friends who write inappropriate things on your wall, photos, or status. Your friends are a reflection of you, especially to someone, like a client, who doesn’t know the true nature of your friendships. So unless you are filtering every single comment this reason on it’s own is enough to say no thanks to befriending clients on FB.
- Your downtime may be perceived as laziness – You requested a couple extra workdays to complete a task for your client. You know the project as a whole will benefit from it and it won’t affect any important deadlines. The extension is approved, the work day end and you grab a beer with a friend, Sally. Sally tags a photo of you sipping your IPA with the caption “Fun at HH!!!” Beer emoji, smiley face emoji, elephant emoji (Sally loves the elephant emoji). How may this look to your client?
- Ummmm that’s not funny – Not everyone shares your clever, edgy sense of humor. That satirical article in the Onion about Sea World draining their tanks halfway in response to California’s drought that you posted last week… not everyone is going to understand the sarcasm. So unless you stick to puns on Facebook (which I personally find hilarious) you may be offending someone, and you definitely don’t want to offend your clients.
- You’re suddenly always accessible – Consider the following scenario: You’re enjoying a Taco Tuesday night at home with your family. Ping. Ping. Ping. Why is Mr. Jones messaging me on Facebook? You read the message and go back to eating your taco. Another ping “I see you received my first message. Why aren’t you responding?” Oh that’s right, Mr. Jones can see when you read his private messages and now it looks bad that you haven’t responded. Suddenly the 9-5 rule is a bit harder to enforce.
- Politics and Religion – I’m going to tell you something you already know. Business owners don’t all have the same political and/or religious beliefs that you do. Any good business person knows politics and religion are pretty much off limits. Are you a Christian who posted a photo of your niece’s baptism? An outspoken liberal who posts about supporting planned parenthood? Unless you’re a pastor or a politician, your clients probably don’t need to see these things.
Facebook is a great place to connect with people. Perhaps you are really open about you personal life and feel comfortable befriending them. As for me, I think I’ll stick with LinkedIn.