At the time of writing this article, we’re at the start of what promises to be a long and exhausting General Election campaign. Social media is used extensively during elections and it begs the question whether as a business owner, you should take extra care during such emotive times as this, to consider your own social media use to further your favourite political cause.

In other words, are your professional social media feeds the appropriate place to comment on world events, political preferences, or celebrity divorces?  What can the consequences of this be and how can you avoid the pitfalls of tweeting in haste and repenting at leisure?

If we take a step or two back, it’s important to consider why your business is using social media in the first place.  Social media is about building communities, establishing relationships with your followers and creating long-lasting engagement through the sharing of great content about your business, its sector and other connected events and ideas.  Social media is not about achieving sales; there are far more effective tools for doing that (advertising principally but other marketing tools are available).  Once you have decided to use social media, your digital strategy will begin to take shape.

Many businesses will bring together all their digital content to create a powerful social media strategy that combines diverse content such as images, product information, news, blogs, video, humour, industry news and comment to establish your business as a reliable source of conversation, story and understanding.  In other words, social media creates influence, credibility and is in fact a wonderful companion to the more traditional reputation-building marketing tool, Public Relations (PR).

Your social media strategy should include an outline of who you will follow and the kinds of people/companies you will retweet.  From the very beginning, you should have a clear and business-focused understanding of whether or not you are the kind of business that gets excited about cricket or the international space station or politics.  If your business is not going to engage in the political arena because it makes no sense, then to suddenly begin to nail your colours to a particular political party’s mast because there’s an election on, could be the biggest act of self-sabotage you ever engage in.  Even if you have your own personal social platform, there is still a chance that as a business owner, some of your suppliers, partners or customers will also be following you.

We strongly recommend that even during emotive times such as General Elections businesses refrain from engaging in this kind of social posting.  We’ve all heard about the consequences of a misjudged tweet and you don’t want to lose business or deter people from beginning their customer journey with you because you posted something you felt strongly about on your business pages that they felt the complete opposite about.  In all things humour can save the day but even with humour, it’s always wise to run your social media comedy tweets by colleagues before sharing or scheduling something that may leave the tumble weed rolling.

In the final analysis, your business and your employees, customers and suppliers will probably have diverse opinions and it can be the biggest turn-off to realise your favourite business votes the wrong way.  Establish a coherent social media strategy and stick to that, rather than politics and this will keep you from making an unforgivable social faux pas. It will also provide light relief and focus in your followers’ news feeds and keep your business on track, no matter what the political climate may be.