Facebook: A terrible platform for freelancers and professionals

Facebook: A terrible platform for freelancers and professionals

Summary: If you've ever tried sending a Facebook message to someone you hadn't "friended" first, there's a good chance they never saw your message. Read all about the implications of this, as well as why it makes Facebook horrible for freelancers and professionals.


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!

Topic: Social Enterprise

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  • Correct, facebook is NOT for busines.

    It is for family and friends to connect and share. You need to use the correct tool for the job -- one which does what you're trying to accomplish. If you want to network for business, get over on Linked In where they 'like' that kind of behavior.

  • Stay away from Facebook and avoid the pain

    Facebook is good for soccer moms to post updates about their kids' "achievements". It has little to no value for professionals.

    Facebook is a like a Coffee Klatch or a Frat Party. Neither place is a good venue for professional interaction.
  • RE: Facebook: A terrible platform for freelancers and professionals

    Same experience we have been hearing from our members on Hourly (www.hourly.com) Facebook is really for social connections, Linked-In for professional networking and Hourly for matched freelance jobs.
  • RE: Facebook: A terrible platform for freelancers and professionals

    And thank goodness for that. There should be a place where you are free from solicitors.
  • RE: Facebook: A terrible platform for freelancers and professionals

    Its not that the FB is a terrible platform for anyone in business, because it does not have to be that way. It's that people don't understand what they need to do to benefit from how FB works. Most people who try to use FB for sales and for marketing the push way. They fail to turn people on because of what they post which is usually "Buy This!" They have not figured out how to use FB properly. A recent Bloomberg article <a href="http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/f-commerce-trips-as-gap-to-penney-shut-facebook-stores-retail.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/f-commerce-trips-as-gap-to-penney-shut-facebook-stores-retail.html</a> quotes a Forrester analyst who gets it right when he said: But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they're hanging out with their friends at the bar. <br><br>The only way you get to be successful with social media (FB included) is not if you are the source of the messages. You have to be so good that other people become the source of the message and that the message they communicate is good, helpful and value laden. It's the message folks. It has to be funny, educational, helpful or worth remarking. It has to be remarkable, caring, and sincere. It has to be worth sharing without risk of criticism for being a push for sales. If it's so good that people share it willingly, then people will happily spread the word. The best advice I give my clients is to find out where your people are hanging out and then help the people you can help the most. Don't offer your services, but give them free value- laden help and advice. if you are a writer, author or a publisher, give them free entertainment - make them laugh, make them cry, scare the heck out of them, save them or make them money, or turn them on. <br><br>If you are a professional, then help them solve a problem. It can be a simple tip or idea plus a snip link, but if it's really good and nails it, then people will pass it on to people they know who can benefit from the idea. <br><br>Do what you do best and give it away in small tasty bites. <br><br>If every post is so good it tastes like candy, then people will follow the trail of candy and more and more of them will want to buy the whole bag. <br><br>FB is an opportunity to be seen as professional, helpful and giving, friendly, and accessible. <br><br>It's up to you to decide to offer the best value and ideas that gets others talking. That's the way you'll get people talking. That's the way you can turn FB and other social media into a solid profitable networking paradise. <br><br>Paul J. Krupin, Direct Contact PR <br>blog.directcontactpr.com
    • Quick question for you.

      Did you even take the time to read past the title of this post?