I love Facebook about as much as I hate Facebook. Yes, my opinion of Facebook is a polarizing one, depending on which day it is and what I'm trying to achieve with the platform. Facebook is a place where people connect, right? It's beautiful for keeping in touch with friends and family who I would otherwise only talk to once in a blue moon (and maybe even while enjoying a Blue Moon with a slice of orange). For that alone, I love Facebook.
However, I'm writing this article is to express how terrible of a platform Facebook currently is for freelancers and professionals who are looking to connect with people via Facebook without "friending" them first. Often, I find that Facebook is the primary avenue of choice for people to connect, and as a freelance writer, I'm often looking for editors and other writers to share story ideas with for their respective publications/blogs. (Yes, I'm a technology writer here on ZDNet, but I'm equally as passionate about a multitude of other topics not related to technology.)
Anyway, I just recently came to discover that there is one very, very likely reason that almost ALL of my messages have gone unanswered that I've sent to people without first "friending" them: Facebook sends those messages to an "Other" folder that NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT, primarily because Facebook buries the link to it.
As was discussed by my colleague Emil Protalinski this past December in a piece titled "Facebook is hiding your messages from you," you most likely have messages waiting for you that you had no idea about (which means, so do the people you've tried messaging without "friending" first). For some, they're just spam messages. But for folks like me (and, similarly, folks like those I'm trying to reach out to), I often have people legitimately message me without adding me first (which is understandable), and where do all of their messages end up? In that "Other" folder. Example:
Once you know about the folder, you know to start checking it, but even then, you *always* have to manually check it, because Facebook will not notify you that you've received a new "Other" message. That's a HUGE problem if you're a professional who is either trying to connect with others or expecting others to connect with you on Facebook without the expectation of needing to add them as a friend first.
So, what do you do? First, become aware of the "Other" folder and check yours to see if you have anything of importance residing there. Also, let as many people as you can know about this article (and be sure to check out my colleague's write-up as well). Tweet it, "Like" it on Facebook, email it, or whatever you have to do -- just spread the word!
Aside from that, I recommend that if you're really looking to connect with someone in particular and you don't want to send a friend request, then you should try to connect with them via an alternate route, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, email, a contact form on their site, phone, or some other avenue where they will most assuredly receive your message -- or, at least, more assuredly than sending them a message on Facebook.
Just a friendly tip to help out my fellow freelancers!