We are living in an increasingly political and polarized society where the default state for most people seems to be "pissed off".
In a world of "pro-this" and "anti-that", how does an entrepreneur or company market itself online?
One word: carefully.
There are stormy seas online. Here are a few suggestions on how to navigate more safely.
You Are Your Brand
For all you entrepreneurs and small business owners out there, chances are your personal social media profiles and your business identities are being followed by the same people. When you voice your opinion online, you're showcasing it to friends, family, clients and prospects.This isn't meant to dissuade you from telling the world how you feel about issues important to you, but rather to remind you that what you say online is visible and largely permanent.
The ramifications of this could be significant. Job seekers don't get hired because of their social media postings. Political candidates lose elections because of things they've said online. An off-the-cuff comment can create lasting ill will towards you and your company.
Accept There Will Be "Haters"
Not everyone is going to like everything about you. This is as true about your Facebook friends as it is about your real-life friends and family. It's even more true about strangers, some of whom are just looking for someone to hate. Are you vegan? Get ready for some omnivore to weigh in on your dietary choices. Like air travel? There's an environmentalist out there ready to talk about your carbon footprint. Own a fashion store? A human-rights advocate is around the corner ready to judge you based on where you source your products.
Every online interaction is an opportunity for you to build your brand. Your public interactions with people you disagree with say more about you than your interactions with your fans. While there may always be those who go out of their way to send negativity your way, dealing with them positively will be more beneficial than just blowing them off.
A RESPECTFUL TONE GOES A LONG WAY
Your words have power. Every tap of a key represents a choice you've made in how to express yourself. If you want to call someone or a group of people "idiots", "f*[email protected]" or worse, you have every right to do so. Does it reflect well upon you to do so? Perhaps it will to some and perhaps it won't to others. You and your brand will be judged by your words, so moderate the language you choose to use when talking about issues.