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The Dangers of Being Too Political on Social Media

by Mike Allton  |  
June 1, 2017

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." —Thomas Jefferson

The other day, a friend of mine put her job and professional reputation at risk. Sadly, it wasn't for anything as significant as standing up for human rights or even bunny rights.

No, it was a Facebook post: a shared image that was intended to be a funny political meme but, instead, offended many of the people who saw it.

Should she have shared that post? Could she have lost her job? Might the issue have been avoided? Were people just being overly sensitive? Let's explore those questions—and others.

What do we mean by a 'political post'?

So that we're all on the same page, let's start with what I mean by "political post." To my mind, there are two kinds: implicit and explicit.

Implicit Political Post

Whenever you share something to Facebook or Twitter or other social network, you have the choice of sharing a simple link to an article of interest, or also adding your own commentary. That's an important distinction: If you're sharing an article that's a simple news event, it seems less politically motivated than if you add your opinion to the share about how feel about that news.

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Mike Allton is an award-winning blogger and author at The Social Media Hat, as well as CMO at SiteSell.

Twitter: @Mike_Allton

Facebook: Mike Allton

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  • by Kim Thu Jun 1, 2017 via web

    I find this to be extremely relevant right now, and something that I've thought about myself. Luckily I am safe as the vast majority of my posts are friends only. Also, while I do marketing for my employer, I am more behind the scenes and wouldn't be considered a public figure within my industry. I do post political items on my Facebook page fairly often, and sometimes the comments get rather nasty. But again, it's friends only. I know better than to make a post like that public. I also enjoy tweeting about political things from time to time. To do so in a more private fashion, I changed my twitter handle to something generic, along with my photo. I also made my email address private on Twitter. That way, I can say whatever I want and most people will have no idea who I really am.

    On that note, I have plenty of friends who have two Facebook profiles for just this reason. One is personal, just for friends and family. They post there the most often, with personal photos, stories and yes, political stuff. Their second profile is professional and pretty much everything is public on that profile. There they post topics that are relevant to their profession and industry. There they connect with colleagues and clients. However they never share anything overly personal on that profile. So that is another solution to this issue. Have two profiles. The other part of this is, for your personal profile. change your name to something less obvious. Maybe don't use your full name, that way people can't find you easily. Set your privacy settings so people can't search for you by email address or phone number. Use a fake name or a variation of your name. Something that people won't be able to figure out. For me, I use my full first name and my middle name. No last name. I also changed my Facebook URL to be generic as well. This really helps to guarantee that your personal profile stays "hidden" from co-workers and clients. And as long as everything is posted as Friends Only anyway, then you're all set. Even if they do manage to find you, they can't see anything.

    So there's another suggestion for people who face this issue. I've actually been doing this for a long time because I don't believe in mixing business with pleasure. Personally, I don't want customers/clients seeing my personal profile anyway.

  • by Claudia Logan Thu Jun 1, 2017 via web

    This while Marketing Profs publishes one article after another criticizing President Trump for his lack of marketing chops, ignoring the obvious ignorance of that tack coming from a m a r k e t i n g publication. This is sure to draw fire as it did the last time I 'tried' commenting in support of the fact that - well - when one WINS the presidency - one obviously has the better marketing campaign. The same was true when Obama beat, first - Hillary and then - McCain and Romney...But please continue to live in your bubble.

  • by Sheri Donaldson Fri Jun 2, 2017 via web

    it just goes to show--it is much easier to craft a marketing strategy to win the office than it is to operate within its many constraints. Diplomacy is difficult. None of us live in a bubble.

  • by Mladen Mon Jun 19, 2017 via web

    I feel really angered by the fact that people are advised to not be too anything on their own personal social media profiles.
    Being too political? Oh, no, that might insult someone, or make people uncomfortable.
    Lose your job because of politics? The stupidest thing a manager could do is fire you because of something you wrote on social media.
    Being fired for openly harassing your coworkers and provoking them with touchy political issues is a completely different thing. The contract you signed says no-no, than it's a no-no.
    But if I need to take into account every damn HR manager before posting something on social media, God, your hiring policies and/or managers are stupid as f.

  • by Claudia Logan Mon Jun 19, 2017 via web

    What of the doublespeak - 'easier to win the office than to operate within its constraints'? A perfectly crafted statement of ambiguity...except for what it points to. It's NOT easy to win the office of president - if it were Hillary would be president two times over - she spent more money than anyone ever and what was her ROI? Any idea? (Trying to keep a focus on marketing here:-) Who had the entire press corps on their side? and still does? Do you think it's easy to go up against Obama, Hillary, the Dem machine, your own party, the deep state, globalists and the media? Try it. See how far you get. As far as 'constraints' go -- why name a few and then see if you can support your premise? Reminder: Trump has only been in office a few months. Please stick to facts. What of the 'constraints' of human decency -- with regard to the left unleashing a barrage of assassination porn? Oh you can free speech me to death on that one -- but we also have free will -- and people pay a high price for what comes out of their mouth - how many divorces do you think have been caused over saying the wrong thing? especially when it it points to low moral character?

  • by Sheri Donaldson Tue Jun 20, 2017 via web

    I was attempting to be polite. Farewell...

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