You have a good relationship with your customer. You’ve even met at a trade show and had a few beers together. The relationship almost feels like a friendship and then…a Facebook invite comes in from them. What do you do?
The argument for adding a customer on Facebook
At the end of the day, your goal is to close more deals and win more business with a customer. It has been written time and time again that people buy from people they like. For some, adding a customer to Facebook is a natural extension of this relationship building. If you pay attention to your Facebook privacy settings there shouldn’t be any embarrassing pictures that make it to your customer. And if you’re truly building a long lasting relationship with your customer, who cares if they see your wedding, beach, or bachelor party pictures. They might even like that they’re dealing with an actual human being. If adding a customer to Facebook gets you closer, then go for it.
The argument against adding a customer on Facebook
For the record, I side with this side of the argument. Yes, people buy from people they like, but that doesn’t preclude you and your customers from separating your private and professional lives. You may feel close to your customer but sending them a Facebook invite might make them feel uncomfortable. Facebook privacy settings can be confusing and if a customer adds you they may end up seeing a part of your life they’re not impressed with (e.g., a friend tags you in a Halloween costume). The bottom line is that you’re never fully in control of which content your Facebook connections see.
When you created your account you weren’t necessarily thinking about adding customers, and you may have some old pictures and posts you forgot about. If your customer has a problem with your product you may also end up getting support requests on Facebook on Saturday night. Helping your customer anytime in any way is important but if you have proper support channels in place it might be slower for your customer to get help when they reach out to you personally on Facebook.
Telling your customer you don’t want them on Facebook
If your customer does add you, it can be awkward if you want to keep Facebook private. This also goes for a customer getting an invite from a sales rep. This is one of those times where it’s best to just be honest. Don’t ignore your customer – instead, send them an email or explain to them why you don’t want to add them the next time you talk. Provide your customers with other opportunities to connect with you. If you are on LinkedIn, make sure you connect with them there. If you use Twitter, suggest they follow you. Tell them you’re an open book and that you like having a good relationship, but this is the one piece of your online life you would like to keep private. Your customer will appreciate the honesty.
It’s important to know which social media accounts are appropriate for work and which ones are not. It is is not necessarily the network itself, but what you post and how you act on it. You can have a very strong relationship with your customer, but you are also allowed to have some privacy as well. In the end, it’s a personal choice you have to make for yourself.
What do you think? Share your experiences with Facebook and other social media in the comments.
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