In today’s politically charged atmosphere, it’s hard NOT to have a strong opinion. Politics are EVERYWHERE. It’s all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and the blogosphere is inundated with political “experts.” The tone of these posts are often charged and aggressive. Everyone on the internet seems to have an opinion, where facts are alternative, news is fake and emotions are on overdrive. With a few pecks of the keyboard and a click of a button, you too can join the uproar!
It’s tempting. But don’t do it.
Allowing your brand to take a political stance is a big gamble. No matter which side you lean, there’s a strong chance you’ll alienate half of your potential customers/supporters by becoming political.
The most recent example we’ve seen is Kathy Griffin’s post depicting the bloody head of President Donald Trump. Usually, comedians have a little more leeway when it comes to political digs because it is considered “art.” Jim Carrey defended Griffin, saying “comedians are the last voice of truth.”
But the whole “I’m a comedian!” defense didn’t stop CNN from firing her. Let’s set aside the fact that posting a grizzly, severed head of a sitting president could be perceived as a THREAT. The post is also a punch in the gut to some of her fans. I don’t have any scientific breakdown of the socioeconomic and politic leanings of her followers. But I do know that both Democrats and Republicans like to laugh. Who doesn’t want some comedy relief during such times? Being funny is Griffin’s bread and butter. After this stunt, many conservative-leaning comedy lovers will now think twice before buying a ticket to her show. (The ones that haven’t been cancelled).
Griffin’s not alone.
The director of a West Virginia development group also wins the WTF Award for stupidest political post. Pamela Ramsey Taylor, director of Clay County Development Corp, made the following post after November’s election: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a (sic) Ape in heels.”
Oh, and it gets better.
Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling thought it was a good idea to comment on this post, stating: “Just made my day Pam.”
Sickening. This repulses me.
You have to wonder…what were they thinking? Honestly, I believe some of us forget that not everyone thinks the way we do. We live in our own little social media bubbles, and we lose any empathy towards other people’s feelings and opinions. Oh, and our way of thinking is RIGHT!
Retribution for these atrocious statements was swift. Taylor was fired, and Whaling resigned from her position as mayor.
But Denise, it was their personal Facebook pages! I don’t care. You represent your brand 24/7, and you are being watched. Every move you make and every post you publish will spill over into your brand.
But Denise, I have a strong voice. I have an obligation to speak up! No you don’t. You may be a legend in your own mind, but not everyone wants to hear your drivel.
Now, before I get too sanctimonious, I have a confession to make. Nine years ago, I “liked” a page of a political nature on Facebook. To be fair, one of my friends sent me a request to “like” this particular page. So, I obliged, not really thinking twice about it. A blogger of a different political opinion decided to look deeply into my Facebook “likes,” and became incensed. As a public relations professional, he said I had no right to be political. In order to “teach me a lesson,” he complained to my superiors.
I was crushed.
But it was a tough lesson that I HAD to learn. We have to keep our stakeholders in mind with everything we do. To this particular blogger, who is also a stakeholder, my page-liking was a slap in the face. I gave him a call, and we had a great discussion and ended on fantastic terms. We’re even connected on Linkedin!
That’s how I like it.
- Don’t post about politics on social media.
- Not everyone thinks the way you do. That should be common sense. But I’ll say it again. Not everyone thinks the way you do.
- You have the potential of alienating half of your customers by taking a political stance.
- Making crass, political statements can ruin your career.
- If a post even borderlines a political opinion, don’t publish.
- Have empathy towards other people and their opinions.