This article is a commentary about Politics in business we felt compelled to make due to some recent local events, but also due to things we’ve witnessed over the years from clients to just random businesses in general when it comes to Social Media.
If there were one piece of advice I’d give any business owner, it would be to keep your politics and religion out of your public business purview, especially social media.
Let me explain before you do any quick reactions to that.
I am a massive supporter of our Constitution and our First Amendment Rights. You absolutely, 100% have the right to say anything you want personally or through your business. I will always support your First Amendment Right. Always.
rather than be preoccupied with whether or not you COULD, stop and think whether or not you SHOULD.
Here’s the problem with Politics in Business
You have every right to say whatever you want on your personal social media, and even your business social media. Heck, I’ve gained clients simply from what I put on my personal social media account, so much that Intuit decided to include us in an article about best practices when it comes to social media.
The problem is while you are protected by your First Amendment Rights to say what you want, you are not protected from the consequences of what you say. Those consequences are something you have absolutely no control over and no protection from. There is such a thing as “Cancel Culture”, which is essentially the same as when news gets out about something you’ve said that pisses people off and in return, they bombard screenshots or bad reviews everywhere and it goes viral.
For example, you could say all types of inflammatory words from racial and derogatory remarks to hatred towards a particular political party, but why say it? Honestly, what does it have to do with your business?
There’s also the potential for libel allegations if what you’ve put out there is in writing and can be used against you should you decide to rant about a company and/or person.
Remember, screenshots are forever.
Remember Our Roots
There’s also the alienation issue. Right now, our political environment in the United States is volatile. There’s no other way around it. I know people are very passionate about one side or the other, but let’s look at it from a different perspective. I’m not here to argue whether or not we should all get along or what have you, but I am here to argue with you about community.
If we all met in a schoolyard in elementary school, chances are none of us are going to care or even discuss our religious beliefs or our family political beliefs. We’re going to play, we’re going to be friends, and we’re going to have fun because that is inherently what children want to do.
As adults and business owners, we want to have our friends, have our rights, pay our bills, build our business, and have fun. We’ve done this for years without ever knowing what someones political or religious affiliation is. I have friends and associates from all walks of life and I cherish them despite our differences.
You’ve done business with people of an alternate party or religion before. I guarantee you, that you have, and it was not an issue for you.
The moment you utilize your business to promote a political or religious agenda, you will alienate half of your potential client base. That may be okay with you, in which case, keep on keeping on. Can your business lose half of its customers and still thrive?
Keep in mind that the neighbor you did business with yesterday is still the neighbor you could do business with today. I don’t walk into a business and immediately proclaim my religious or political stances to make the business owner determine whether to do business with me or not. I would hope that the business would also not do the same towards me because I’m not there to make proclamations, I’m there to do business.
There is an Ethical Dilemma
I get that there are certain things that you simply can’t ignore. An example for me would be white supremacists groups. I can’t ethically support them and would not do business with them. I get it. So there are -always- exceptions for every rule.
Our Final Words
Honestly, this article is likely taking on many different topics at once. I hate to see people so angry and businesses affected by making poor publicity decisions. I try to keep in mind that people are inherently good and all want the same things when it comes to their freedoms and the growth of their own business and financial status.
we support our Constitutional rights but with a consideration for the consequences on how we portray our opinions with our business.
I can’t, however, not give this important advice to not only my clients but to anyone else who owns a business and is active on social media as someone who has been involved in social media from the very beginning. I know social media, I know what sells, and I know what goes viral both good and bad. At Misfit Interactive, I have never publicly stated a religious or political opinion as there’s no reason for me to. This article would be the very first time we’ve even discussed politics as a business and it’s simply to state we support our Constitutional rights but with a consideration for the consequences on how we portray our opinions with our business.
A good standard to follow is: If you wouldn’t want to read it from a business with opposing viewpoints as you, then don’t post it on your own.