In one scene in the movie The Godfather, the Corleone family is arguing over how to best avenge the assassination attempt on their Father, Don Vito Corleone. The hotheaded Underboss of the family, Sonny, argues for violent, widespread retribution. His brother and Consigliere, Tom Hagen (Sonny found him on the street when they were kids. The family took him in, and he’s been with them ever since. He’s not Sicilian, but he’s a good lawyer. He’s not a wartime Consigliere, but…) urges a more peaceful approach, pointing out that “This is business, not personal!“
Before you post anything online that reflects on you or company, you should always remember those words, “This is business, not personal.” Blogging is an excellent way to increase visits to your website and to enhance interest in your business. Social media is a wonderful opportunity to engage customers. But never use business accounts to air your personal, political, or religious views, your dirty laundry, or simply a rooting interest in a particular team. It’s a surefire way to poison your marketing efforts.
An Offer You Can’t Refuse
I’ve talked about creating your own bad PR previously, but was reminded of it again when I saw a Facebook update from the music hall owner I referenced in that post. Unfortunately, my friend uses his Facebook account for both business and personal purposes. In it, he cited a recent article link that cast the actions of some Republican politicians in a bad light. Using that as proof of his argument, he noted that his “Republican friends can shut up” about the issue.
Boom! Those words and one hotlink was all it took to alienate or tick off at least half his audience. (I shouldn’t have to say it, but it’s probably not good form to tell your audience/customers to “shut up!”) Given the current political climate in the US, it was no surprise that one friend quickly vowed he’d never set foot in my friend’s establishment again.
As so often happens, the political debate/argument raged in the comments section with typical “I’m right/you’re wrong” vitriol. However, the respondent I referenced above also correctly noted that it’s not good business to mix your political views with your business accounts. And you should definitely never tell your customers to “shut up” their views.
He’s right and, as this example shows, it’s just plain bad business to use your business forum, be it blog, Twitter, Facebook, or email newsletter to express your personal thoughts. Your views or beliefs as they apply to your business or industry are perfectly fine. Just remember, your customers have their own thoughts and opinions too. And, in this day and age, they may differ widely from your own. Thus, it’s a lot easier to tick someone off and, hence, lose customers.
There’s No Need To Go To The Mattresses
Fortunately, if you are compelled to share your personal thoughts or dirty laundry on the web, there’s an easy fix. Just set up a personal account in whatever medium you choose. Then, use that to air your thoughts, rants, grievances, or chili recipes there, with people who know and understand you. Keep your business thoughts in the business account where your customers and potential customers can see you as a reliable information source. Save your personal views for your personal forum populated by friends and family.
Don Corleone said it best when he told Sonny, “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you’re thinking.” And if you want to keep your business from sleeping with the fishes, then keep your personal views to your family of friends and acquaintances. And make sure any and every statement you make that reflects on your company is strictly business, not personal!