It’s a common question this time of year – “Is it okay to do political posts on my company’s social media pages?”
The short answer? It depends.
Considering 62% of American adults report getting their news on social media, we know that people respond to posts about politics and current events.
We also know that posts that garner higher engagement rates are good for business.
As we progress through a tumultuous political season, we’re seeing how much of an impact social media now plays in the public’s perception of an individual, organization, or cause. We’re also seeing trends that suggest an apparent collective loss of good manners caused by the heightened level of perceived anonymity. This leads to fuel for “keyboard warriors” or “trolls” on personal and business pages.
Suddenly, you have a recipe for potential disaster for your brand.
Despite the obvious concerns, there is a way to support political endeavors using your professional platform without placing huge risk on your business.
From a public relations standpoint, I have to admit – my first impulse is to tell you to avoid political posts altogether. While it is true that you’ll get a strong reaction, it may not be positive. In fact, you have about a 50/50 chance that it won’t be. It may completely turn the customer off of your business.
Personally, I’m not a fan of those odds.
Your business is not just about you. You may have started the company, but your focus is (ideally) on serving your customers. Also, part of what makes our country so great is the freedom to have a differing opinion without recourse.
Would you refuse a customer simply because they voted for the “other” guy or gal? Hopefully your answer is no. After all, it would be incredibly boring to live in a world where your opinion is the only valid option.
Ask yourself: Is this post about how much you dislike the current president, governor, or city council member worth losing a valuable customer?
If the tone of the post is aggressive, inflammatory, or if you even have to question whether it would be considered inflammatory – it may be better to play it safe and restrict the content to your personal profile. Keep the posts on that profile “private” and only for friends you actually know.
While there is a risk to making political posts, there is a way to do it correctly and professionally.
My clients often hear me preach on the importance of authenticity on their social media platforms. What makes you human is going to speak to your audience. One aspect of that is your political and social opinions. Political and cause posts can actually attract people to your business.
You’ve worked hard to grow your business and your following. You love your community and your country. You want to use that platform to make a difference about something you care strongly about. This is completely understandable. In fact, I actually consider these opportunities to be a perk of small business ownership.
To quote Dr. Suess:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
When you own a successful business, you become a fixture of the community as a whole. People will know who you are, and what you stand for. Don’t muddle your reputation with an inflammatory post. Keep it clean, and check your facts before posting.
Before you post, ask yourself: Why is this issue so important to me?
If you want to post about a political topic, you need to check your mindset. It’s about the cause, not about the rhetoric.
Often, your anger or frustration isn’t really toward the candidates themselves – it’s what their policies represent for you and your community. Taxes, unemployment, immigration, healthcare, and homeland security are all valid issues that you should care about. Just remember – it’s not about the candidate; it’s about the issue. Focus on that.
Speaking in anger from a business platform will only cause your audience to respond in kind. Focus on solutions, not the problem itself. If you can accomplish that, your audience will still add their ‘two cents’ – but you’ve already set a levelheaded tone for a constructive conversation.
Also, keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to “agree to disagree”!
If you’re going to post about a topic, avoid sources that use a lot of commentary. You want hard facts to back up your opinion. Look for reputable news outlets and only share articles with statistics, polls, or similar evidentiary proof.
For example, if your concern is about a candidate’s views on taxes – don’t create a post talking about how much you hate that opinion. Instead, create a series of posts that focus on the impact of current tax requirements on small business and promote the views of the candidate you prefer.
Don’t attack; show why the other approach is valid. Focus on the solution!
I think this is my favorite alternative.
Instead of making political posts, be a champion for those who are already making a difference toward that cause. Find a non-profit who shares your passion for a specific need and get the word out using your platform. Help them with their funding campaigns, and encourage involvement through support drives.
Finally, establish an editorial policy for your blog and social media strategy. This will help keep you in check before posting in the heat of the moment. If it doesn’t fit within those guidelines, consider posting on your personal page instead.