Can Voicing Your Political Opinion Hurt Your Brand?
The political season is heating up. But should your brand reflect your politics?
With the proliferation of social media, it’s extraordinarily easy to express your political beliefs online. If your face is synonymous with your company, you may think twice before you weigh in on such hot button issues as taxes, gay marriage or drug legalization.
Some social media feeds state some version of “opinions expressed here are my own,” but does that really defuse blowback? Here are some things to consider before joining in the political fray online.
You are your brand
It may not be fair, but your clients will associate your words with your brand. Even if your Facebook or Twitter feed is separate from your company’s feed, it’s likely that your customers follow both. While you’re allowed to have an opinion, think hard before you make the decision to express it online.
And this doesn’t stop with just the CEO. Your employees also reflect your business. Now most clients will tolerate differences of opinion, but they’ll take notice if you or your employee voices an opinion or backs a candidate with what they believe are intolerant views. It’s important to have a social media policy to address how employees can engage on social media.
If you do opt to get political, tone makes a big difference. Starting a genuine conversation is different than trying to antagonize the opposition. Just because you are passionate about your beliefs doesn’t mean that you can devolve into insults or name-calling. Keep it civil.
The Internet is permanent
Yes, you can delete a Tweet or a blog post, but not before countless numbers of people have already seen it. The digital footprint of your online rant may remain easily searchable.
Give some consideration to the platform where you voice your politics. Facebook and LinkedIn are probably best left to polite discourse for friends and potential employers. You may be able to get away with more opinionated fare on platforms such as Twitter or Reddit.
You also run the risk that your political posts surface high in Google’s algorithm and become the first things a potential client learns about you following a search.
Another thing to consider? Online trolls might follow you around the Internet, leaving negative comments on your posts, reviewing your business negatively or just generally harassing you online.
Are you well-versed in the topics you’re vocal about online? Understand that you may be asked to defend your positions by individuals who have expertise in the area. Make sure you’re ready to engage in debate.
Dividing your staff
Certain industries attract like-minded individuals, but don’t expect all of your employees to be on the same page. People take politics personally, and you may alienate your talent by getting too vocal about your opinions in a business setting.
Don’t let these concerns keep you from being politically engaged, contributing to candidates or exercising your freedom to speak your mind. Just make sure you do it with a vote of confidence.