Did you know that connecting with your business contacts on social media platforms can help your company grow? In this episode of Small Biz TV, I talk about the pros and cons of being Friends with clients on Facebook, plus some helpful guidelines to get started.
Do you have a Facebook account? You might think of it as a place to go to post pictures of your kids, wish your long-distance friends happy birthday and read (or maybe even write) countless people’s strong opinions about everything from celebrities’ fashion choices to international politics. If so, you’re thinking about Facebook in the context of your personal life.
If you also think about Facebook in the context of your small business, it would benefit your company if you choose to befriend your clients and other business contacts on social media.
Friends with Business Associates?
Some people are very hesitant at this notion – they’re very particular about whom they befriend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms. If this idea gives you pause, think about it in the context of building relationships with the people whom you’d like to do more business with.
Being Facebook Friends will help you strengthen your relationship with someone whom you don’t know very well. It will help you understand what makes them tick. You’ll find out whether they have families and what kinds of activities they like to do. If you like drinking craft beer and one of your clients always posts pictures of himself at local breweries, you now know that you have something to talk to him about the next time you see each other.
Do You Want to Grow Your Business?
If you’re unsure whether being Friends with business contacts is right for you because you tend to use your Facebook feed to rant and rave about issues that are hot-button topics for you, ask yourself an important question: Do you want to grow your business, or do you want to have a platform where you can rant and rave about whatever you want? The logical choice for small-business owners is opting for your company’s growth. If you’re afraid that your opinions would be viewed unfavorably online by clients, you can still share opinions with your friends in person.
Maybe you’re afraid to allow business associates – who are kind of like strangers – onto your Facebook feed because you’re private about sharing photos of your children. No problem! You can be Facebook Friends with people and not share everything with them. Instead of choosing to share a post with the Public or all of your Friends, you can create lists – Close Friends, Acquaintances, Friends Except… – and share certain posts with everyone and certain posts with only your inner circle. You’ll need to take some time to place everyone into categories or lists, but it’s a one-time task that will help you streamline who sees your future posts.
An important benefit of being Facebook friends with business associates: It shows that you’re transparent. This is important for large and small companies today, because people are concerned about what companies do, what they put into their products and what the people are like behind the scenes. If people have the chance to get to know you a bit on Facebook, they’ll see the type of person you are and whether they want to do business with you.
If you and your clients have similar interests – it could be something as innocuous as posted recipes – it’s likely that you’ll begin to Like and comment on each other’s posts. Engaging each other this way builds relationships.
Facebook also makes it easier for you to think of your clients and associates as entire people, rather than just faceless names associated with phone numbers or e-mail addresses. It’s often hard to remember which person you met goes with which business card you’ve gotten at a networking event. If you become Facebook Friends, you’ll see their name and their photo every time they pop up in your feed, which helps to build your relationship.
Even if you’ve been averse to adding business associates to your Facebook Friends list in the past, don’t be afraid. Use all of the tools that you possibly can to grow your business, and don’t limit yourself. There are so many benefits to using social media to further your business, you should take advantage of every opportunity. If you need pointers or coaching to achieve the right tone on Facebook, we can help. It will help you to Blow Away The Competition!