Your audience cares what you think…
And your political beliefs are a huge part of that story. You’d love to stand up for what you care about. You’d love to use your platform to make a difference in the world. But, the problem is, you don’t know how to talk about politics as a business owner. And so you avoid it.
You might have noticed some people you follow on social media talking about their political opinions. And you probably thought:
“Well done her! There’s no way I have the confidence to do that. And what would I even say? What if I put off potential customers? What if the social media gods decide they object to my values and throw my posts into the darkest depths of the algorithm, never to be seen again?”
All valid concerns!
And none of them a reason to keep your content politics or principle free.
Why should I talk about my politics in my business?
You see, the professional/personal divide we carried with us from the office to the online world is dead.
That’s why you get people posting selfies on LinkedIn (to massive engagement), and why behind-the-scenes content does so well on Instagram.
It’s also why companies have spent the past month telling everyone how wonderfully accepting they are of LGBTQ+ rights (whether they are the other 11 months of the year is a conversation for another day).
We expect people and brands we buy from to have principles, to have opinions, to be made up of actual people with principles and opinions.
So it’s not a “nice to have” for people (like me) who don’t mind putting themselves out there. It’s a necessity if you’re running a business in the 21st Century. (You can read more about my thoughts on this here.
But if you’re not used to putting your political and personal beliefs out there (even amongst your Facebook friends), then how do you talk about politics as a business?
*theatrical flourish *
I’m here to help with…
My framework: How to Share Your Politics Without Pissing Everyone Off
(disclaimer – you will piss people off if you’re honest about what you think. And that’s ok. There will always be people who disagree with you. But there will also always be people who have been waiting for someone to speak out. They are your people.)
Follow all the steps and you’ll feel confident and comfortable telling your audience what you really think – without worrying that they’ll all run for the hills.
SPOILER ALERT: They won’t.
Step One: Get comfortable with the space
We’re taking baby steps, because this is a big deal.
So, before you jump in and write a mini-essay on LinkedIn about everything political you’ve ever thought, you want to get the lay of the land. And giving your audience whiplash is never a good marketing strategy. So, here’s where we start:
Write down 3 things that are important to you (there may be more than 3, but it’s a good start). These could be abortion rights, LGBTQ+ equality, child poverty, government oversight, or climate change. Anything that you’re passionate about.
And then start sharing what other people are saying about these 3 things on your Stories, or in your Feed. You don’t even have to comment, and you don’t need to make anything up yourself. Just start sharing
Why? Well, this gets your audience used to seeing you and these issues in the same space. And get’s you familiar with the current discourse on your chosen issue.
Baby steps, remember?
Step Two: Honing your message
You’ve dipped your toe in the murky waters of political social media, sharing content from other people that you agree with. But you don’t just want to be a parrot. You want to use your own words to share your passions.
So Step Two is working out what you really think. Vague rants coming from hot white anger at the latest news are not your message. They are the source of your message, the passion you can feel through your posts. But they are not enough.
If you are going to put your politics, your principles, whatever you want to call them, out into the public sphere as a business, then you need to nail them down. You need to be able to articulate what it is you believe, and why you believe it.
Because people are going to ask. And the quickest way to lose people is to be vague (that is literally why people hire me to work on their copy – well…one of the reasons…I’m pretty talented…).
Imagine you were sat opposite your ideal client here, and you had to explain to them why microplastics were so important to you. Or why you are so passionate about Early Years nutrition. Take the 3 issues you picked yesterday and lay out your thoughts, your reasoning, and your argument clearly. Put together the jigsaw pieces.
And write it all down.
That’s a message that you can start communicating to your audience. Ready for questions or objections that come your way.
Step Three: Bring people with you
This is where you actually start sharing that message with your audience.But, and here’s the key, not in a preachy “this is the final word on this subject and if you have nuances then you can go follow someone else” way.
The most effective political conversations – the ones that have the potential to change hearts and minds, to inspire action, and to impact the world – are just that – conversations.
Two-way dialogues that invite questions, agreeable disagreements, and new ideas.
If you’re sharing your politics in your messaging as a way to use your platform, and to connect more authentically with your audience, then you need to encourage this sort of conversation.
You can do this on social media with question stickers, polls, invitations to send you a DM, or even Lives where you share your platform. You can do this through your email list, giving your subscribers an opportunity to reply – and replying back!
However you choose, give your people opportunities to talk to you, to share their thoughts, and to offer up their stories.
Step Four: Walk the talk
It’s time for a little reflection. Because it’s one thing to tell people what you believe, but you also have to take a look at the way your business acts.
Authenticity is a word that gets thrown about a lot (and I do it too!), but in this new online world it is so important. To build a long-term connection with your audience, to bring them along with you, you need to build trust. And so your business’ actions need to align with your business’ principles.
So here are some questions to consider:
- Do your business practices match your principles?(do you talk about climate change but bank with someone who invests in the oil industry, for example)
- Are you open to criticism? (not trolling or vitriol, but people pointing out where you could improve)
- Are you always learning? (there’s always room for learning more on any issue, so are you making an effort to stay informed?)
One last point. While we strive for perfection, we never reach it. You need to be realistic – and open about this. Not all of us can completely ditch plastic, we might want to leave some social media platforms, but right now our business relies on it…
Being open about where we’re still working is an important aspect of that authenticity.
Step Five: Be in it for the long haul
And here we are: the final step.
This will not be news to you, but in marketing as in exercise – consistency is key.
Take Pride month, for example. I’ve been revelling in the rainbows all over my feed, the marches popping up all over the country, and the opportunity it has given some people from the LGBTQ+ community to speak about their experiences on social media (yes, even on “This isn’t Facebook” LinkedIn).
We’ve also seen a LOT of companies jump behind the Pride banner. Adding rainbows to their logos, donating proceeds of particular products to supporting LGBTQ+ people, and highlighting policies that help the community.
And then we’ve seen some other companies pop up, spray rainbows and “love is love” quotes all over their platform… only for it to disappear from their branding (and the way they actually do business) for the rest of the year.
If you jump on every international month, only to not mention it for another 12 months, those people you’re trying to draw to you will be confused, annoyed, and even betrayed.
Step Five involves staying the course, and being true to the principles and politics you’ve identified as important to you. Because if they are important to you then they should be on your radar all year round.
Now, a little disclaimer. I don’t mean that you have to be inserting them into your content plan every week. But you do have to think about how they fit into your content plan! If you’ve chosen to use your platform to speak about your politics, then you need to carry on doing it – not just when everyone else is, and not just when there’s a tragedy/SCOTUS judgement/Daily Mail trending article.
So, there we have it. My gift to you. 5 easy steps for when you need to work out how to talk about politics as a business owner. Or, come to think of it, as a human being.
Now, go forth and tell the world what you believe!
Need some help? I’m always happy to have an online coffee chat and thrash out some ideas!