For heaven’s sake, if you want to do business online, keep your politics to yourself!

Warning: Rant ahead.

I am getting sooooooo tired of political posts from direct sellers.  Seriously.  If you are trying or planning to promote your business using social media, you really need to cut it out.  You simply cannot assume that all your customers and prospects feel the same way that you do.  And a big political post complaining about a political party, or ranting about your affiliation with one, serves no purpose but to try to force your views on others who are not on social media sites to be converted.  If the people in your life agree with you, super.  But you are also alienating a large swath of people.

Social media is about reaching a much larger group of people than you could before.  But the thing about these people is that they are from diverse regions and have varying views.  You aren’t in Kansas anymore.  You can’t automatically assume everyone agrees with you.

HEAR ME: People who want to buy from you or join your team will not be impressed by your political opinions (but will certainly be alienated if they disagree).  You are convincing no one.  All your posted opinions serve to do is make yourself feel better about what you believe.  If you want to have political debates, do it with your real life friends.  All your political posts do through your social networks is preach to the choir, while alienating the rest.  It’s just not a smart business strategy, it doesn’t convince anyone, and it will do nothing for your business.

So quit it.

Your thoughts?

Image Credit: Kretyen

17 Responses to For heaven’s sake, if you want to do business online, keep your politics to yourself!
  1. Chris Jones
    March 28, 2012 | 2:14 pm

    Easy to see the point you’re making J.F. OTOH, my views and activities vis a vis current events are integral to who I am so I do put them on my personal FB profile …whereupon they are displayed only to the list of people who would be interested ; )

  2. Mary Jo Schuette
    February 28, 2012 | 4:27 pm

    What if you have a personal FB and a Fanpage? I have posted my views on my personal page. I don’t rant or try to be inflammatory, although, i suppose if you disagree with my views, anything could be inflammatory. However, I was aware as I was posting things that it could alienate potential customers, but felt it was a risk I was willing to take.

    • Jennifer Fong
      February 28, 2012 | 4:30 pm

      You know, I think a lot depends on the nature of the comment, and whether or not your friends with your customers and hosts online. In my opinion, if you “friend” customers and hosts you should skip the politics entirely. But there’s also some posts that are more offensive than others. I sometimes see political cartoons that are so disrespectful that I immediately unsubscribe. I think the point is to realize that if you post that stuff, you run the risk of offending someone, because people feel strongly in both directions. Not worth it, in my opinion.

  3. Carolyn Gordon
    March 16, 2010 | 2:01 pm

    Hear, hear! Frankly, I’m friends with so many REAL friends who disagree with me, we agree to disagree and get on with life! It’s for them and for prospects that I leave the politics out.

  4. Cindy
    March 16, 2010 | 1:30 pm

    I was hoping you’d write about this! It’s a complete turnoff for me. And because you never know who’s looking — not just current customers, but potential customers and potential employers.

  5. Jennifer
    March 16, 2010 | 1:23 pm

    I appreciate everyone’s comments…even Frank and Roberta! :) Debate is healthy.

    Here’s my take on it…if you’re in a direct selling business, it’s not just about you. What you do and say reflects on your company, as well as every independent direct seller in your organization. When people read views that could be construed as extreme, it can turn off potential prospects. If you’re not using it for business, say whatever you want. But if you ARE in business, you MUST be sensitive to everyone, with varying viewpoints.

    I’m not saying turn off your individuality. But I AM saying that if you want to do business, avoid offending people. I think there’s a difference.

    That’s my two cents.

  6. Beth Sutton
    March 16, 2010 | 1:18 pm

    Amen! ;)

  7. Roberta Jerram
    March 16, 2010 | 1:10 pm

    Thanks Frank for adding your view.. my take on this subject is, social media is an extension of the real world.

    We should not all try to conform to be one big professional impersonal persona, we ARE all different – even Jennifer!
    Whether it’s our religious views we share or recipes it makes us INDIVIDUALS Jennifer!
    How do you perceive your rant to be any different? (just a cheeky question, not designed to stir things up you understand!)
    How do you know this ‘advice’ of yours will not risk alienating certain people also?

    Perhaps target nicheing is not such a bad thing :-)

    (just playing devil’s advocate, feel free to disagree, that’s my point exactly!)

  8. Debra
    March 16, 2010 | 11:33 am

    Thanks for the post Jennifer. One of my pet peeves is a ‘business’ post expressing political opinions. It’s one good reason I would not come back to the site or do business with them. Even if I agree with them, it is not the place for politics.

  9. Pascale
    March 16, 2010 | 11:16 am

    I love your posts!! Tell it like it is! I find it such an issue when people combine personal and business. They’ll use the same profile for both, rather than a fan page, group or the like. I’ve seen a romance party plan consultant post status-ads about her business along with other posts venting and cursing about her lying “loser” husband. Boundries, people, boundries!

  10. Kelly
    March 16, 2010 | 11:12 am

    I don’t like it when friends or family post political views either – no one has any idea what the “reader” feels or believes – it can alienate anyone – even people you would consider close!

  11. Cheri
    March 16, 2010 | 10:11 am

    Good topic. I have to say I haven’t really noticed that much political stuff on FB from direct sellers or others. I think the key is to be diplomatic and not try to sway someone who believes otherwise – that is where the problems begin. Essentially everyone is right – their opinion is their truth. We may not agree but it doesn’t make the other person wrong. Cramming your opinion down someone else’s throat to get them to “see the light” doesn’t work and causes hard feelings – not a good thing to do in business or personal life.

  12. Lenore Sanborn
    March 16, 2010 | 9:51 am

    I totally agree- and yet, I wonder if people don’t recognize some of these posts as “policital.” I feel that we live in a climate where people are promoting “values” and trying to share information in a way that they feel is helpful (when in fact, the information itself may have a political slant, or the purposes behind sharing might be motivated by a sense of a call for “justice”).

    The irony of the internet is that while it is wide-spread and “global,” the extreme (and even not-so-extreme) views find a ready audience and are able to thrive when they may otherwise have fallen on deaf ears and fizzled out.

    Some Direct Sellers may argue that they are *seeking* like-minded customers and therefore prefer to share their views in the hopes of attracting such an audience. Some Direct Selling companies may themselves have certain values and/or corporate climate that tend towards certain political beliefs (any mention of “family values” or “earth-friendly” intents come to mind, as these phrases are often associated with certain political agendas).

    My personal hope is that insights like yours that are presented will raise the awareness of how these choices can effect ALL of the direct sellers & affiliates of that company, not all of whom may agree with their political leanings or the extent to which they may promote them. Despite its relative age, the internet community still has not quite settled on which way to tend with this. Some find it useful for broadcasting a varied spectrum of political beliefs, while others (such as myself) hope that we will all just learn to “get along.”

    As the sectors of our lives begin to intertwine, it does become difficult to sort out what constitutes a “political” or even “value-loaded” statement and what is simply “sharing.” Does the mention of a church function count? It may in some cases. (especially if you subscribe to a less understoond religion) What about quoting scripture or the Qur’an? What about rallying for a school fundraiser? …or a parcel tax to fund schools? What about (in my state of California) encouraging people to fight for or against who should marry (defending values, again)? What about publicizing local stories about the percieved mistreatment of segments of the population? Where do you draw the line?

    The answer may come easily to you… and to others- but I have the feeling that the lines you would draw are not at the same places nor issues.

    I think the question we all grapple with is: How can I be the “real me” without sharing all of the “real me”… and what parts of that “real me” are “acceptable” for publication?

  13. Frank
    March 16, 2010 | 9:40 am

    Well, just to play devil’s advocate, I’ll disagree. :-)

    While I’m sure most of the time it’s done wrong, I think there’s some real value to be had by disclosing your personal views. The trick is not to blast those who disagree with you [politically/religiously/etc.] with 140-character broadsides whenever you decide to hop up on one of your soapboxes (and I personally have quite a collection of those). You’re right on, there, Jen – that’s a waste of time, brain cells and a good way to chase off potential or even existing customers. But handled well, such differences can actually be a way to build respect and make occasional buyers into loyal friends who wouldn’t dream of shopping anywhere else.

  14. Jean Chisser
    March 16, 2010 | 8:59 am

    I totally agree! Well said, Jennifer!

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