Your Politics are Killing Your Business

This past week, I received a notification that I had been asked a question on Facebook. Now Facebook Questions is currently new functionality, and people are still figuring it out. It’s not something you can currently opt out of, or decline notifications for. The question I had been asked was a political question. Someone with a strong political leaning asked a question that was sure to solicit some emotional responses.

And it made me shake my head for a couple of reasons.

  1. Number one, the person that sent me the question does not know me all that well. In fact, it’s a business contact. They have no idea what my political opinions are, or whether or not I would agree. (And if you think that your opinion is one that everyone in the world shares, that’s even more dangerous. Nothing is a foregone conclusion.)
  2. Politics is naturally divisive. While everyone has an opinion when it comes to politics, when you share these opinions with people who don’t know you well, they can be taken out of context. You can come off as very insensitive because people don’t know the whole story. Why would you alienate potential business contacts that way?
  3. When you get into social media, you’re no longer only working with people in your little neck of the woods. You must understand that the feelings and opinions that “everyone has” where you live may be quite different in other parts of the country, and world. You cannot assume that everyone agrees with you.

And I felt like today I need to address this again. In the US, we are getting ready to enter a presidential campaign season. The political rhetoric will surely heat up again, with people feeling passionate about issues and positions. But it HAS NO PLACE ON YOUR SOCIAL NETWORKS if you are using them for business.

Politics can get nasty, especially during a presidential campaign. People have very strong opinions that aren’t necessarily the same. Online friends don’t have context of you as a whole person…they don’t serve at coffee hour with you at church, they don’t volunteer with you at the MS walk…all they know of you is this strong opinion you’ve just expressed that they strongly disagree with. They may block you entirely just so they don’t have to read it. And that ends any chance you had of building a relationship or doing business with them.

Unless you’re only interested in a homogeneous team and customer base, keep your politics off your social networks.

Your thoughts?

image credit: kretyen

12 Responses to Your Politics are Killing Your Business
  1. Pola
    April 12, 2011 | 3:11 pm

    my opinion…..It is POLITCALLY INCORRECT…to discuss politics in business and especially on FACE BOOK.

  2. Pat Zahn
    April 12, 2011 | 11:29 am

    I mostly agree with what you are saying, simply because most people express these opinions with the assumption that everyone feels the same. Of course, I’m going to be measured in my posts and responses when I know it can affect my ability to do business, just like when I have a magnet on my car with my name/number I’m not going to flip off the person who just cut me off – we should be smart enough to behave differently when people are watching. BUT, on the other hand, being vanilla means no one knows or notices you, which isn’t very social. Stating that you are going to a religious event, or a particular political rally, or a charitable event is not offensive, however, assuming everyone who reads that post will agree with the religion, politics or charity is a big mistake though.
    Pat Zahn recently posted..Journaling- What’s Behind the Photo

  3. Catherine James
    April 12, 2011 | 8:22 am

    Both at work (we service customers globally) and in my DS business I keep politics out of the conversations as I find that it can lead to hard feelings, political rants and so forth, and my time is just to valuable to risk loosing a customer, or trying to defend my policial beliefs.

  4. Bernice Caruth
    April 12, 2011 | 8:16 am

    I agree that political beliefs have no place in social media. I have a business builder who is quite blatant on Facebook about her political beliefs. Result…absolutely no business growth at her end. Evidently her passion is politics, not her business. Even if she didn’t have a business intent, the political postings take my breath away.

  5. Sarah Andrus
    April 11, 2011 | 4:08 pm

    Jen – I think your post is right on the mark. I’ve hidden more than one FB “friend” because they use their profile page as a political platform. Personally, I just don’t want to see political rants in my newsfeed. Religion is interesting because unlike the vast majority of people in the direct selling industry, I’m Jewish. I’m quite used to being in the minority and don’t mind posts about going to church, or even bible discussions, for that matter. Unless someone starts proselytizing; otherwise it’s just another post to me. Yesterday I posted about cleaning my kitchen for Passover. I like to think my FB community is open-minded enough to appreciate our differences. ON THE OTHER HAND – are you missing out on recruiting and retaining people for your opportunity if they feel excluded because they don’t share your faith commitment? Something to consider…

  6. Linda Burt
    April 11, 2011 | 3:36 pm

    I like your blog posting, well said! This is a VERY sensitive subject for me and in fact I hate to discuss with 99% of people. Growing up I was taught that this subject along with a couple more was not polite conversation. I feel this strong about religion too! I know what I believe, I know what Church I belong and it certainly is not that I have anything to hide, it’s just none of your business. And if you choose to preach through your FB profile, I will most likely “Hide” you. I get mine reglion at Church and that is my preferred method to receive it. Don’t kid yourself, either subject will get you unfriend or hidden! I’m on here for business and to build those relationship, I have no other hidden agenda!

  7. Jennifer Fong
    April 11, 2011 | 1:00 pm

    Here’s my feeling on the religion bit. You want to stay away from STRONG religious opinions that tend to alienate a group. For example, “Anyone who believes X is going to hell.” But if you talk about religion as it relates to yourself, such as, “The family is going to church this morning,” I don’t find anything wrong with that.

    Some of the companies in our industry are faith-based. I’ve even sat in parties where that’s discussed as part of the script. So it’s not about eliminating it entirely. It’s just about being inclusive. In my opinion, anyway.

  8. Bridget Wilson Hall
    April 11, 2011 | 12:48 pm

    i agree with Stacy.
    The fact that I am a Christian minister is part of my identity and my religious posting on fb tend to be praying for various people or situations. I have a page for my church activities and one for my business but if people want to see me as a a whole person then my values are there for all to see on my personal profile…

  9. Stacy Peak
    April 11, 2011 | 12:21 pm

    I 100% agree about the politics because that can be a very sensitive and explosive issue. However, I think religion is okay as long as it is done in good taste and strictly on your personal page. My customers know that I am a christian and that is the foundation of my life. Therefore, they should not be surprised to find that I occasionally share a Bible verse or devotion link on my personal FB page. I do have a separate group page which is strictly for business.

    • Linda Burt
      April 11, 2011 | 3:39 pm

      I have more customer and hostesses on my personal profile than my business page. This wouldn’t work for me.

  10. Kate
    April 11, 2011 | 11:56 am

    I totally agree with you 100%. And I agree with Valerie as well (in fact you took the words right out of my mouth), politics and religion should stay out of social media, in my opinion. And I would even go a step further…it not only effects relationships with customers or potential customers, but team members as well.

  11. Valerie Cuell
    April 11, 2011 | 11:29 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jen, and I may be being a bit controversial here, but I feel the same about religion.
    Not every has the same religious faith nor the same beliefs, and I for one don’t think that social media is a place to broadcast them.
    Valerie Cuell recently posted..How To Protect Your Online Presence

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