Preaching Politics and Religion through Social Media as Part of Your Direct Sales Business

nondenominational churchOne of the “hot button” issues I often encounter when teaching direct sales and network marketing folks about social media is the issue of whether or not to talk about politics and religion.  If you look at the demographics of direct sellers, a large percentage are conservative, and quite religious.  Some see their business as a platform to share their faith.  Now those that have been through my training know that I advise direct sellers to avoid talking about politics and religion as part of their social networking efforts, unless people that share their views are the only ones they want to service.  Yet those that see their business as a way to share the message pretty much stop listening at that point.

Now one reason folks want to share their political or religious message is because they want to convince others to see issues their way.  They want to “spread the good news.”  And I respect that.  I really do.  I’m actually a person of strong faith myself.  However let’s look at this for a moment from the way social media works overall.

When you use social media properly for your business, you begin by getting to know people.  You share valuable content that meets the self-defined needs of your prospects.  You build relationships.  As this process happens, people begin to know, like, and trust you.  Then you can invite people to opt-in for your list, join your group or page, or in some other way choose to receive more information from you.  At that point the prospect is saying, “This is someone who provides me with value, and I trust them to contact me with more information that I value.”  Only at that point do you really have permission to share your business with them more specifically, in a way that will meet their needs.

cat and politics by kretyenSharing your political and religious viewpoint is very much the same thing.  If you preach your views to the general world through your status updates, comments, etc. in social media, the only people that you are going to reach are people that already agree with you.  Those that don’t yet agree, or feel strongly a different way, will most likely ignore/hide you, and you’ll never reach them.

Now consider using the same approach that I outlined earlier.  Get to know people first.  Find out what their needs are.  Help them to know, like, and trust you, and then share with them privately, once you know they’re ready for your message.  If your goal is to share your views, who are the people you want to reach more likely to listen to?  The person that broadcasts their views without listening first?  Or the person who takes the time to get to know THEM first, and who they feel understands them?  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out.

When using social media to build your direct selling or network marketing business, you can never forget that your social media efforts are first and foremost about building relationships with people.  Only when you know them can you determine if what you have to share with them is something that will meet their needs.  And when it comes to politics and religion, the same holds true.  You need to get where people are coming from first, and understand what they need, if you want them to listen to you at all.  Only then can you reach new people.

Now it’s possible that I may have offended some folks with this post.  If so, you are more than welcome to tell me so in the comments below.  I simply ask that the comments be polite and respectful.  And I would love to know what everyone thinks.  What do you think about sharing politics and/or religion as part of your business, and especially through social media?  Looking forward to reading your comments below!

Photo Credits: ?n-s?ng, kretyen

http://www.flickr.com/photos/casers/
11 Responses to Preaching Politics and Religion through Social Media as Part of Your Direct Sales Business
  1. Amy Thomas
    February 28, 2012 | 4:43 pm

    This was absolutely excellent and very helpful…thank you!!

  2. Betsy Kohan
    February 28, 2012 | 1:34 pm

    I learned a valuable lesson on this during the 2008 election. Although I was not involved in social media at that time, I did network with fellow direct sellers on message boards. Strong opinions damaged many of those relationships forever.

    On another note, I find profanity equally as offensive and it can sneak into our posts in very innocuous ways–if you share a picture or cute saying, many have very raunchy original source names. It’s definitely something to watch.

    I have definitely become much more aware of how this can impact my business.

  3. Sarah Andrus
    February 28, 2012 | 12:55 pm

    Thank you for a thoughtful and important post, Jen. I support your advice wholeheartedly, and would just add some personal experience. I believe that sharing my views on politics/religion only after I have established relationships enables me to relate to people for who THEY are, not for who I am. As a result, I have learned so much! Perhaps I take this approach because I am a minority in our industry, so I know the feeling of isolation and exclusion that such discussions can generate. Even if I had the best of intentions I would never want to make someone in our business feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. I understand those who are called to share their beliefs, and I also know that they will lose good people in the process. Think it’s just an innocent conversation? Think again and remember that at it’s best direct selling is an open, inclusive business with opportunity for all.

  4. Hakki Ozmorali
    February 28, 2012 | 11:56 am

    We should all keep in mind that this is a global business and involves people from all walks of life. People from all walks of life have very different views on different issues. Business is business, and it is better if it stays that way, in my opinion. But this is a choice after all.

  5. Meg McGinn
    February 28, 2012 | 11:37 am

    I have to bite my tongue many times but I have come to the conclusion that I will remain silent (for the most part) on my political views. I would NEVER post them on my fan page and I am very careful about what I do on my personal page as I have many customers / hostesses who are also my friends. It is sad that so many people cannot agree to disagree but take their opinion to the extreme. I see other consultants from my own company who post strong political and religious views on their personal page. I do tend to avoid those who I disagree with – depending on how they portray themselves as I guess that is human nature. Part of me wants to be able to voice my opinion as this is a freedom we have but I also do not want to offend or put off potential customers.

  6. Lisa Graham
    February 28, 2012 | 11:30 am

    I agree completely! I am blessed to have customers of many different faiths & backgrounds. As strong as my beliefs are I wouldn’t want to offend others and try to keep only business posts on my business spots & keep the personal/political/religious stuff on my personal pages.

  7. Amanda Stewart
    November 11, 2009 | 5:13 pm

    Jennifer, thank you for this article! We are in a time now where we can not afford to lose customers. I am not a very spiritual person, but I applaud people who are! I am a very political person, but I do know not to talk about in with my business. I heard you on a Karen Phelps teleseminar and I have been hooked on you ever since. Keep up the great work! Amanda

  8. Bridget Wilson Hall
    November 9, 2009 | 4:17 pm

    I agree with the general theme of this…
    That’s why I have 2 separate twitter IDs – one for my Direct Sales business and one for the church in which I am a priest. Some people do start off by following both but I find they realise pretty quickly that @TheArkNewcastle is a church account and to unfollow that one if they don’t feel in tune with what I tweet on there.
    What I tweet on @BridgetArbonne is more business and personal…

  9. Ann Burke
    November 9, 2009 | 2:07 pm

    So true! One of my dearest and closest friends and I have such different political and religious viewpoints that we’re constantly amazed how we can remain such good friends. We often go to each other’s direct sales events and network together and recommend each other and no one would know how much our world viewpoints differ – or even what they are! It’s the only way to build relationships and your business.

  10. Ivette Muller
    November 9, 2009 | 10:00 am

    I agree. Just like you shouldn’t talk about politics and religion in the regular corporate work place (ie. an office), you shouldn’t talk about it in social media or during one of your direct sales party/shows. I respect everyone’s religion and political views, even if I disagree with them, but there’s a time and place for it.

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