Updated: Jul 5, 2019
A day before the 2016 Presidential election, I wrote a piece about the strengths and weaknesses of the Trump and Clinton campaign. But I left out one thing: who I was voting for. Why? I didn’t want to come off as biased or call attention to my political leanings.
A lot has changed since then. We’ve endured Trump in office for almost two years – the longest 21 months of our lives, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or household pet. For those of us who are not Trump loyalists, it’s hard to stand by and do nothing during a massive amount of turmoil, divisiveness, and government corruption.
For big brands, turns out it’s a mixed bag to take a stand on political and social issues in the Trump era. In a June survey, two-thirds of American consumers want companies to share their views on social media, particularly when there is a business connection to the topic. For millennials, that approval number is even higher. Sharing those views is unlikely to change consumer minds, however. Worse yet, if they disagree with the views, more than half said they are less likely to purchase from the brand.
And while consumers expect companies to peel off the corporate mask, what are the risks and rewards for a small business or consultant to showcase their political views? Though eyeballs on brands are much greater than a little business, the impact in the small universe of clients, vendors, and followers can be equal or more.
Post-November 2016 election, one of the changes I made to my business was to step out behind my name. Here’s what I learned:
Have a game plan
Assess your social media channels and decide where it makes the most sense to post your views. Since I don’t have a Facebook business page, no issues there (I’ve always been comfortable being open on my personal page, despite the strong possibility of Russian bots hovering). I selected Twitter to express views since it naturally blends my personal and professional lives like no other social channel. Because LinkedIn is exclusively business focused, I only post articles about overlapping political topics, such as the recent voting PSA or the Colin Kaepernick Nike Campaign effect.
Know the risks
Revealing your political views in front of the world means you’re prepared to take some heat. I knew from the outset that I could alienate current and potential clients who may find my perceived Trump trashing on Twitter annoying. I was willing to face consequences and be OK with it. (Then again, I have more than one client.) I haven’t experienced any blow-back – yet anyway. On the positive side, I’ve bonded with certain vendors, clients, and colleagues in the industry as we group-therapy our way through these difficult times.
No one wants to see partisan posts all day long, including me, so mix it up. I typically tweet three to five times a day, interspersing political tweets that I find particularly relevant, smart, or entertaining. I also “like” tweets as an alternative to retweeting, which cuts down on newsfeed noise. Of course, as any good marketer would, I monitor trending topics and which political tweets are getting traction.
Be tolerant of others’ views
Lastly, one thing we’ve learned in Trump times (besides the fact that if we walk away for an hour, an insane new political twist occurs), is that we’re in the most tribal of times – right, left, middle – we stay on our sides. To say it’s polarizing is an understatement. We should at least listen to others’ views – whether clients, friends, or God forbid, family. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but we should be respectful, or refrain from discussing altogether. If we don’t, Trump’s divisiveness works.
Bottom-line, it’s fine for me or anyone else to espouse their views, but the most important opinions matter on November 6.