Social networking websites are becoming a crucial arrow in a freelance translator’s quiver of marketing tools, and it’s important to decide how to use these tools wisely. When I entered the social networking world, I decided (somewhat arbitrarily) to use Facebook for friends and family and LinkedIn for business contacts. Lately, I’ve noticed some changes in how people are using Facebook; I’ve been receiving more requests to sign on to my friends’ business-related Facebook pages, and I’ve been receiving more Facebook friend requests from business contacts. Colorado Translators Association now has a Facebook page and we’ve gotten a good response to it. I’ve also started posting some business-related items on Facebook because my network there is much wider than my LinkedIn network, and the response has convinced me that Facebook is a worthwhile business tool.
Still, even if your life is about as far from sordid as it gets, there are some things that you might not want your business contacts to see (I swear, that’s not me lip-synching to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in the high school talent show, it’s my secret twin…). In addition, you have little control over what your Facebook friends post on your page, so you may fall prey to someone else’s offbeat sense of humor through no fault of your own. Or, you might inadvertently post something (“Great freelancing strategy session last night; can’t wait until you give notice!”) to someone else’s page, not realizing that you’ve just “outed” that person to his or her boss and co-workers on Facebook.
The answer (sent courtesy of a friend of mine who’s a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Brazil) is Facebook friend lists. Here’s a great article on how to use them. Basically, you can set up different categories of Facebook friends and give them access to different parts of your Facebook profile so that some people can see everything that’s there and some people can see almost nothing. Once you set up your friend lists, you can go into your Privacy settings and set up customized permissions for each friend list by excluding some of the friend lists from seeing certain elements of your profile (i.e. Photos of You, Videos of You, Status Updates, etc.). It seems to me that judicious use of friend lists can really help translators make effective business use of Facebook.
Does anyone out there have positive/negative stories about using Facebook for business?