The internet has been abuzz with the #scotus ruling giving every American, regardless of sexual orientation, the right to marry a person of their own choosing – including one of the same gender. So yes, gay marriage is now legal in the United States. I have watched closely as friends and business associates have shared the news, proclaiming love is love regardless of gender. I have watched them use the Facebook app to superimpose a rainbow flag over their profile pictures and wondered…
When you are your brand, should you put out political social media posts explaining your stand on an issue?
For many small business owners this is a real dilemma. You are your brand and while your “friends” and “connections” realize you are also a person, your personal and professional lives are really one in the same.
You may say “Yes! Absolutely! And as in the case of Brentwood Photography you might actually look at this as a judgement issue. Like many you might not want to do business with those who you perceive to be close-minded. You may feel that you do not want to do business with any supplier or take on a client who discriminates or excludes. You may feel it is your right to make your beliefs very well known and only want to attract those who think like you.
I would caution you…be careful.
While it may seem as if you should talk about the topic du jour (after all they do trend on Twitter) please be careful. You never know when your comment about a particular issue is going to be misconstrued. You say “red” and a reader hears “blue.” Suddenly you are thrust into a social media comment battle that gets uncomfortable and probably a bit inappropriate. You decide to remove it but realize someone took screen shots (or used the Google snipping tool – I do love that thing) and your remarks are now permanent. No matter how innocent your remark, your reputation with one important person and even more frightening, their networks, could be tarnished.
Think about this another way. Suppose, over these last few days you have shouted from the rafters about your joy regarding the ruling. You are sharing your views through political social media posts of articles, memes, graphics, pictures, you name it…you can not share, tweet, retweet and comment enough. And a potential client or customer is watching this – they might be on the same side of the issue as you but you are now viewed as a political zealot. They would love to do business with you but fear you will only talk about the issues…and even other issues that are important to you. You may have the greatest widget in the world, but they do not want it if it going to come with a heavy layer of political rhetoric.
Lastly, suppose in a few years your position changes. The country swings another way on a particular issue – you are forever tied to those comments you made because someone saved copies. You may age, and go from free thinking liberal to a conservative money manager. Your core beliefs are questioned because of what others can see or remember you posting, no matter how long ago.
In today’s world, and with a ruling a significant as last week’s, it can be hard to think this through. You get very excited but remember you are your brand. No matter your profession from attorney to photographer to landscaper, you never want to say anything too controversial. Again, while you may not want to deal with others who do not think like you, if your business is not related to politics then my advice is to lay low on the issues.