These days it can be a challenge to participate in social media without a bombardment of political statements, rants, and horror stories. How is the small business owner supposed to actively utilize these free and engaging tools (think Facebook, Twitter, etc) without dipping their toes in the ever churning waters of public opinion? Well, perhaps the key is not to avoid the issues but to face them head on!
There are many things to keep in mind when doing this of course. First and foremost, while some social or political issues may seem irrelevant to the nature of your business they may actually be far more significant than you think. For instance, you may have seen some social turmoil over the minimum wage in the news these days. You may think that this matter has no real bearing on the everyday operation of your business. But did you know that most small business owners are in favor of raising the minimum wage even if it costs them more money?
Another thing to consider when navigating the murky waters of public opinion is not only what side you weigh in on, but when you do it. For example, in early 2014 a popular Charlotte, NC bakery know for its social media savvy came under fire when responding to a former employees resignation letter online. The company responded quickly, but didn’t give enough thought to their wording. The subsequent deletion of the post added fuel to the fire. As a general rule, being the first to weigh in or initiate a change has very little affect competitively, but being the last certainly does. And if you happen to go against the tide of public opinion, it may be better to keep that opinion to yourself. Or at least keep it off of the social media platform.
Finally, be cognizant of differences between public opinion and the core values of your own business. While you may agree on some levels with the attitude of the masses, it is never fair to concede at the sake of your own company. Remember, you’ve worked hard to build your business and it is okay to disagree. In most cases, common sense will steer you in the right direction. But, when in doubt consider the strategies set out in this blog and don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution.