We’ve been part of numerous professional services client discussions where the question asked is, “Can I discuss politics on social media?” The answer we generally give is, “No,” as one always risks losing favor from the opposite side of the spectrum given the nearly even political divide in the country. With the new Trump administration, there is now really no easy answer. Decisions being made in these early days have elicited passionate responses and activism at levels not seen in decades. How does one navigate these tricky reputational waters?
Here are some thoughts to consider:
Maintain Professionalism – Aim to frame issues intelligently. For example, “I wanted to share with you my thoughts on X, Y, Z, and why I support or am opposed…” Ignore snarky comments, or, as a last resort, delete them entirely. And, if a true troll emerges, block, unfriend or mute them.
Understand What is “News” and What “Isn’t” – News literacy emerged as a major issue post-election. Spreading misleading information can impact your professional image and reputation. Here is a quick set of guidelines to consider when vetting a story for promotion.
Use a Filter – Developments often impact on both a professional and personal level. When speaking on behalf of your company, stick to the impact on its clients. When personally posting, focus on the personal and avoid statements like, “I know my clients feel….”
Proceed Cautiously – Before posting anything public, pause to consider potential positive and negative feedback. Picture a, “Do you really want to post this?” button that needs to be pressed each time.
Do a Privacy Audit – Many people operate under the belief that personal Twitter and Facebook accounts are private. This simply isn’t so. Log out and Google yourself to see what non-followers and friends can see. Then, consider implementing more restrictive privacy settings.
Choose Your Network – A call-to-action political post may be better suited for Facebook, a site stocked with friends and family, rather than sharing it with your business connections on LinkedIn.
We are certainly living, for better or worse, in interesting times. Freedom of speech and expression are vital parts of a democracy. Doing so in a smart, considered manner protects these freedoms while preserving one’s professional image.