The short answer? It depends.
Considering eight in ten American adults report getting their news on digital 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 the upcoming presidential election, we’re seeing how much of an impact social media now plays in the public’s perception of an individual, organization, or cause.
In addition, we’re seeing trends that suggest the apparent collective loss of good manners caused by a 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.
Why You Shouldn’t Post Political Commentary on Your Business Page
From a public relations standpoint, I have to admit – my first impulse is to tell you to avoid political posts altogether. While it’s true that you’ll garner 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 living 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 councilmember worth losing a valuable customer?
If you must post, consider restricting the content to your personal profile. Keep the posts on that profile “private” and only for friends you actually know.
Why You Should Post Political Commentary on Your Business Page
While there is a risk to making political posts, there is a way to do it right. And, let’s face it – there are issues out there that need to be discussed. Your position as a business owner does not sudden muzzle your ability to do talk about things that are important to you.
All of my clients hear me preach on the importance of authenticity in their digital content. What makes you human is going to speak to your audience. One of those things involve the causes you care about. You’ve worked hard to grow your business and your following. You love your community. You want to use that platform to make a difference about something you care strongly about.
If you want to post about a political topic, this is where you need to keep your mindset – why do you want to post? It should be about the cause, not about the rhetoric.
Before you post of the cuff, ask yourself: Why is this issue so important to you?
Often, your anger at a candidate isn’t toward the candidates themselves, it’s what their policies will do to you and your community.
Taxes, unemployment, racial issues, immigration, healthcare, and homeland security are all valid issues that you should care about. Just remember, do not make your posts about any individual candidate; it should be 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 likely add their two cents – but you’ve already set a levelheaded tone for a constructive conversation.
Just remember – in many cases, it is perfectly acceptable to “agree to disagree.” Chances are, you’re not going to change anyone’s mind in a string of Facebook comments. What you will do is show your hand on where YOU stand on an issue. With that in mind, is the content you have in your head still worth posting? Sometimes, that answer is yes. In that case, go for it – but at least you’ll be prepared for potential outcomes.
Things to Know Before Making Political Posts as a Business Owner
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.
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!
Better yet, be a champion for those who are making a difference in that cause already. 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.