“But, I don’t want to offend anyone.”
Those are the most common words when I tell clients that they can express their opinions on social media, even on their business pages. It seems that being neutral on everything is the way of this politically correct world and that social media is no exception.
Bulls… (I’m so passionate about the topic I nearly cursed for the first time on this blog).
The Middle is False Sincerity
Walking down the middle on a topic is not noble. In most cases, it seems indecisive. If you live in Oklahoma City, chances are you are either an Oklahoma Sooners fan or an Oklahoma State Cowboys fan. Pick one. If you’re a business in Oklahoma City, there is nothing wrong with supporting your team even from a business perspective.
It can actually help, believe it or not, because even Oklahoma State fans can appreciate that you love your Sooners. To support both evenly is insincere and people will know it.
Be Respectful and Professional
Even if you support the Sooners loudly and proudly, that doesn’t mean you go negative on the Cowboys. Being extreme and picking a side does not give you a license to lose professionalism. Had the Cowboys beaten the Sooners in football this year, supporting the Sooners does not mean that you wouldn’t congratulate the Cowboys.
“Congratulations to the Oklahoma State Cowboys for beating our Sooners this year. We’ll see you again next October! The revenge-wagon will be rolling up and down the halls at (your business) in 2011.”
A post like that will likely get replies from both sides. On Facebook, replies means that you have discussion. Discussion means that your post will be present on more pages and will move up in people’s news feeds. Moving up in people’s news feeds gets more impressions for your page. More impressions for your page… you get the picture.
“Congratulations on excellent seasons by both the Cowboys and the Sooners.”
Boring. Fail. No engagement will come.
What to (Maybe) Avoid
Local news, local sports, national events, holidays, industry-relevant news – all of those make for perfect discussion points on your pages and through Twitter. Some businesses who are willing to “go extreme” will still avoid politics and religion. That’s fine.
It’s also fine to express yourself if you so choose. Don’t let silly “rules of thumb” get in the way and make you gun-shy. If you have views and you’re willing to back them up, the notion that you MUST avoid politics or religion from a business perspective is ludicrous.
There are risks. Few things polarize people more than the two taboo subjects, and there is a chance that you can get some backlash. I’m not recommending that you go far right or far left on your social profiles. I’m telling you that if you are passionate and willing to accept the potential consequences of doing so, don’t let a social media guru tell you otherwise.
Business is business, but it’s in how we handle ourselves in our real lives that determine how deep we’re willing to go in that business when it comes to truly polarizing issues. Follow your heart (yes, it’s cliche, but it’s true) and don’t walk down the middle on issues that you’re comfortable discussing in real life.
Just because everyone else avoids the topic doesn’t mean you have to.