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Facebook + Politics + Personal Branding

August 1st, 2016

Have you noticed that there are a lot of political posts on Facebook?

Has any of it made you feel nauseous?

A while back I posted something political and a couple of my trusted friends immediately messaged me and told me to not do that again.  Sharing my opinion, as a business owner, would alienate customers and prospects, and so it’s best to just stay silent on this charged topic. I’ve been muted and censored by me de facto advisers.

That’s okay, because I don’t feel a need to share my every whimsical idea and opinion on Facebook.

But watching my “friends” (aka, connections) on Facebook share their opinions has made me think differently… about them.

Not one post has swayed how I think about politics, or candidates, but every single one has impacted how I think about each of my Friends.

Did they make a for or against post about Trump, Hillary, or Bernie?  I judge what they said or posted against where I stand.

I agree = they are pretty smart (like me)

I disagree = they are pretty (insert word for not smart)

Now, I’m not saying that you have to stay silent.  I think sharing our opinions should contribute to a healthy dialog, and help us all come to a better conclusion.  Unfortunately, what I see most are sound bytes and perhaps-fabricated stories. Instead of talking about issues, people have highly emotional stories or positions.  They come across as “you are dumb if you vote for this person…” instead of “please vote!”

Okay, that’s a can of worms in itself… especially for those who think their vote doesn’t count… let me get back on track.

I want to emphasize two points:

(1) What you post will have an impact on your personal brand.

I’m not the Facebook etiquette police, but every person you are connected to will judge you by your political posts. And they will think things like “would I ever want to work with this person? Would I hire this person? Would I trust this person’s opinion in other places?”

Those are very dangerous things for others to wonder about, aren’t they?

(2) What others post will have an impact on how you think of them, and possibly even your relationship going forward.

What if one of your friends, or family members, posts something in full support of the candidate that you think is ridiculous, and ridicules your candidate of choice?  What does that mean for (a) your Facebook relationship, and (b) your real relationship?

Note that this question applies to them, when you post something they don’t agree with.

In the past few months, I’ve seen and internally reacted to stuff, including:

  • From colleagues, strongly advocating their preference of a candidate I don’t feel I can support. Their arguments are logical, but I question the facts or claims they make. They come across as condescending and preachy.  I question my working relationship with them.
  • From colleagues, strongly advocating their preference of a candidate I kind of like. Their arguments seem more logical, and the facts and claims align with my values and pass the sniff test. They come across as passionate and interested. I feel like since we agree on this, we could be better business partners.  (is this a proper and logical reaction? Perhaps not, but it’s human nature)
  • From family, who are in a political party that I don’t related to, who continually post a lot of emotionally charged things to the point of being offensive. Regularly using or insinuating things like stupid, dumb, etc. to make their point more clear that anyone with half a brain would agree with them.  All the while, it makes me think that they are closed-minded, ignorant, myopic, and themselves stupid and dumb.  Even though I like having BBQs with them, and trust them with my family, I think they are limited thinkers and selfish.
  • From acquaintances, who are so passionate about their politics that many times I’ve thought that I wouldn’t want to talk with them in person, and maybe we should be Facebook EX-qaintences… but for some reason there is at least one thing keeping the “friend” relationship in place.

Look, I’m not here telling you what to think, or even what I think.  But I want you to really think about what you post on Facebook, and how it impacts your relationship with others. Super passionate? Fine…!  Just realize you might be branding yourself as too passionate, or lacking judgement (in what to think and what to post)… if someone thinks negatively of you, they might not be open to introducing you to their personal and professional connections… right?

If someone “facebook-offends” you, you have some choices:

  • unfriend them
  • ignore the post as a moment of indiscretion (forgive and forget)
  • respond to them, and face the wrath of the rest of their like-minded friends
  • ???

I’ve removed friend relationships on Facebook with people I still like, but I can’t really handle all of their posts. Too much drama, too much opionion, or too much offense.  The good thing is that removing a FB friend doesn’t mean that we are not friends in real life.

Let me sum up my thoughts.

First, no matter what opinions you have, be careful what you post. It can have a real impact on your personal and professional relationships, and employment prospects.

Second, if someone writes stuff that offends you, you need to figure out how you’ll react. I wouldn’t suggest throwing more fuel on the fire… even though in the heat of the moment that’s all you might want to do.

 

 

 

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One response to “Facebook + Politics + Personal Branding”

  1. Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter says:

    Hi Jason!
    I do hope that you continue to share, as you are inspired to do so, on highly charged topics.

    The post you referenced – including your thread of comments – was illuminating and well-thought-out. The ideas you shared all too often get snuffed out or ‘held back;’ I was refreshed by your openness and courage.
    .

    While your referenced political post may not be the impetus to write today’s post (I realize you are advising careerists to manage/preserve their brand), I do hope you will reconsider your personal stance on sharing more openly, as you did, that particular day.

    I saw no whimsy in that post – only raw, intelligent AND passionate expression of your beliefs and values. And, a message that needed to be uttered.

    A fan,
    Jacqui

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