You may have noticed it’s election day and who knows what will happen in the next 24 hours. The last 12 months have taught us that anything is possible and never to count on anything until it has happened!
But my blog is not about the election per se, whatever you believe in and whoever you vote for – I hope it works out the way you want.
What I am talking about this week is whether you should be voicing your opinions on Social Media or not.
Well the answer to that is not a straightforward yes or no. Why do I say that? Well, because when you are in business, everything you put out on social media is contributing (or not) to your brand. Now – there are some truisms in marketing. One you will have heard me speak about before is not being vanilla. If you are vanilla you appeal to no-one. There is no money in the middle.
So perhaps it is a good idea to be potentially controversial. And anytime you bring politics in it IS going to be controversial, because politics tends to raise people’s temperature and cause them to polarise, and become emotional. When you are emotional and not rational – you can often say thing’s you would never normally say – and the problem with social media is that once you have said something, you can’t UN say it!
If you want to go test this theory out – have a look at the posts on Facebook which are about immigration for example. Whichever side of this fence you sit on, the fact is that most posts about immigration get high engagement. It may or may not be the type of engagement the person posting it wanted. But it IS getting noticed.
So – what some social media marketers will tell you, is, “Don’t do it”. I disagree with that.
What I advise is that you understand your brand values and your customers, before you put out ANY marketing messages (and believe me – ANYTHING you pot on social media as a business owner IS a marketing message). If your brand is known for being controversial, and if you want a certain sector of the population as your customers, and you have the absolute knowledge that the majority of your client base think X – then you can give your backing to X. The people who believe Y is the only way will slate you. But most of your customers, being X, will love what you are saying and will defend you.
But – be careful. Because it is fine to give your opinion, IF you are allowing others to have theirs. Never be a smartass. People don’t like a smartass. By that I mean – don’t preach, and don’t put down others for their opinions, unless that is what your brand is. Like Russell Brand for example. He (in his opinion) ‘tells it like it is’. In actual fact, he ‘tells it like HE believes it is’ – because we all see the world from our own viewpoint and opinions.
I like some of the things he says, I disagree with other things, but I would always defend his right to have those opinions. That’s called democracy. I am not his target audience anyway – his messages are crafted for the people who agree with him, and that is fine. Where it goes wrong, is where people do NOT allow other people to think differently, and label them ‘wrong’. Of course, we all think we are right. If we didn’t think we were right we wouldn’t say anything in the first place.
I believe in free speech, but I don’t believe in free speech that is intended to hurt others. I don’t believe we should be afraid to say what we feel about something for fear of being ‘politically incorrect’ either.
So – my advice today is – feel free to say how YOU feel about the election if you know your target market really well, but avoid criticising others for THEIR choices.
Be prepared to take any flack that being controversial will clearly generate, and again – avoid getting into any slanging matches, that will ultimately make YOU look like an idiot. Petulance, aggression and sarcasm are not attractive qualities.
Personally, I am going to avoid comment. What do I know anyway? I have voted – because women chained themselves to railings to give me the right to vote. But am I ‘right’ to vote as I have. Who knows. If the party I voted for gets in then we will see. If they don’t then I hope that I am wrong and they do a better job than I anticipate!
However, coming back to controversy – the area you should be controversial about is YOUR product or service. If you are just like everyone else, then you won’t generate the customers and the market share you might want. You should be commenting on what is happening in your industry and pointing out where your opinions / services / products differ. You need to STAND OUT in the sea of sameness. So if the norm in your industry is A, and you think that is wrong – then shout about B. People may not agree with you, and that is a good thing.
Let me give you two examples.
In public speaking – a lot of – shall we say – old school public speakers, will try to get audience engagement by say ‘do you agree with me – yes or yes?’. I hate that. I never teach my students to say that shit. It is manipulative. And you wouldn’t do it one to one. You wouldn’t say to your other half – ‘shall we have fish and chips for tea – yes or yes?’ It’s just weird. If you are asking your audience a question, credit them with the intelligence to make their own decision about the answer.
In social media, other so called ‘experts’ will tell you not to put too much out there on Facebook or Twitter or you might ‘annoy people’ (said in a wingey voice). Well I say that’s rubbish. If you are putting out quality information then how can it be ‘too much’. And I know this to be true as one of my colleagues who has a cookery page, puts out 24 posts a day on Facebook. She has 3.5 million fans. Do you think she cares if one or two think it is too much and unfollow her?
Should you be worried about the minority who do not resonate with your style and would never be your customer anyway. Or should you focus on the many who love what you are doing. The caveat is that your information must be of value to YOUR avatar (your ideal customer), and if it is, then more is not a problem.
Now – you may disagree with me. And that is your absolute right, and I have no problem with that.
So going back to today – comment by all means but do it on purpose and with full knowledge of what you are doing, don’t just respond without thought or judgement. Once you put something out there in the virtuosphere it is there forever!