We may be running a business, but we’re also people with lives and views outside of that construct. We have opinions, beliefs, and topics that go straight to the core of who we are and what we we care the most about.
Sometimes, these things unite us with other people, which can be a great way to draw new interest for our business. But other times it can do the exact opposite, serving as a negative distraction from our brand and our work in the eyes of our prospects.
So, to talk about our beliefs, or not? In an age where so much is on the internet for all to see, through our daily interactions on social media or the organizations we align with, it’s not such a cut-and-dried answer.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before getting personal on social media:
1. Does this polarize me?
Unless our ideal client’s psychographic aspects specifically match up with our personal crusades, we’re likely speaking to an audience that comes from varied backgrounds. My current clients all share content quality, revenue, and creative goals, but their personal identities and interests are very different. I could easily isolate myself from half of them by endorsing the beliefs of the others.
Why would I need to do this? I love their diversity! And I could easily be more inclusive by focusing on those things my ideal clients have in common with me, and with my brand’s mission.
There’s no need to lose a client over something that could be relayed behind a filter or within a community, if it needs to be said at all.
2. Is what I’m about to share only relevant in a small window of time?
Political rants, social justice, and daily headlines are all things we form opinions about, and there are no shortage of channels to express them on social media. Weigh whether these issues play into the bigger picture for your business or personal brand before taking them to the status updates.
For instance, the controversy over the killing of Cecil the Lion in 2015 was a short-term news story, but I chose to to write a few words on the Serious Vanity Facebook page about it. My angle was relevant to my audience, and my channel was a good choice based on my social media strategy.
I didn’t troll other posts or spam every social network with my opinion, as though it was the only one that counted. I didn’t become a “right fighter” that made people angry. I raised a point, and got some feedback.
I also kept it to social media and not my company blog, because it’s not evergreen. When you aim to create a resource that can be referenced over long periods of time, these topics aren’t a match.
Whether it’s election season or a celebrity has gone off the rails, if you wouldn’t be talking about it over coffee with a friend in six months, it probably doesn’t belong on your company’s blog in perpetuity.
3. Does this really affect my brand perception?
How important is it for you to attach your work to this issue? If you are a political pundit, of course you’re going to have definite public opinions on a new law or how the votes get counted. But if you’re a chiropractor, there really is no benefit to attaching your business to your political opinions (unless all of your clients are those politicians you support!).
This doesn’t mean you can’t be charitable or vocal in some other way, if there is a cause near and dear to your heart. On a corporate level, Tide‘s Loads of Hope campaign helps in times of disaster in a way that supports the brand without polarizing it. Breast cancer awareness and sports team support are also common timely topics that can help a business become more involved with their local communities while potentially drawing in more ideal clients than they alienate.
Another option is to form a separate entity for your altruistic work or special interests that can compliment but not overtake your business mission. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a perfect example of how Microsoft‘s founder and his wife were able to pursue the causes most important to them, while Microsoft maintained its autonomy as a brand.
A good measure of appropriateness is how inclusive your thoughts are, rather than exclusive. If you’re expanding your network while helping or informing, it’s a good thing. If you’re making your circle smaller and less impactful, it’s a bad plan.
You can easily start treading deep water when you mix your personal views with your brand’s online presence. If you ask yourself these three questions before you commit your thoughts to social media, you’ll allow yourself the opportunity to form a smart strategy for supporting your beliefs and maintaining the integrity of your brand.