Should you be penalized for having an opinion? Certainly not.
Are people “penalized” for voicing an opinion online or offline? You betcha.
Your online life can impact your business growth, and this is true in today’s ever-increasing online interactions world. I’ll bet you interact more with people online than you do in real life. I know it’s true for me. I work from home with the pets all day, and my husband is a mail carrier so he is gone all day. I am alone for close to 10 hours, I see him and interact with him about four hours a day. My interactions with humans in real life is limited.
This limited real life interaction could be why so many people take to the internet and social media and voice their opinions on anything and everything. Have you ever stopped to think about whether your online life impacts your business growth? While I am certain there are many of pet business owners who do consider what they say, there are still those who voice opinions without thought to consequences.
OK. I know this is a touchy subject. If you are against XYZ, you should be able to be who you are and say what you want, right? Well, sure BUT if a potential client or pet product or brand sees that, they are just as justified in not working with you because of what you’ve said. It’s a delicate balancing act.
Your Online Life Can Impact Business Growth
You said what?! OK, you’re working with a brand and perhaps they are being a bit picky about the way your post is written. They prefer the Oxford comma, but you prefer to jump off a bridge rather than use the Oxford comma. Or the product didn’t live up to the hype. Whatever the reason, I beg of you, don’t go online and say, “Well, I was working with Brand A and you will NOT believe what they requested!” It is alright to ask a question, especially if you’re truly perplexed on a request, but the pet world is small and if you’re bit**ing about Brand A, guess what… word will get out.
You could be burning a bridge–not only with that brand but with others who may deem you “difficult” to work with. If you rely on sponsored posts to keep your pets in clothing and toys, think before you complain. Pick your battles, and if you have an issue take it up with the brand, don’t immediately take it to your Facebook page.
Your political or religious beliefs differ. Everyone is a unique snowflake. I’ll bet you and your significant other, your children or your best friend from high school have different opinions. Embrace your differences! Does that mean you need to be vocal on social media about each and every one? This, I know, is a touchy subject. I have a client who I truly love, have loved working with her for many, many years, and I have a hard time reading her online political rants. I know she can say what she wants, but I don’t know if she understands how people are viewing her and her business because of her vitriol.
When we speak and she tries to lure me into a political conversation–our views are night and day from one another–I deftly change the subject. She is entitled to her opinion. I am entitled to mine. I don’t want to discuss religion or politics in large groups or online.
That is my unique choice. What you say, or write, is yours. Just be aware that others may be judging your online life and may worry that your persona may damage their brand. Again, it may not be true, but for many “perception is reality.” I applaud anyone who doesn’t hold back, damn the consequences. That is not me, but if it’s you–then more power to you, but know that it may turn off a brand or potential client.
Drunken, half-naked and other inappropriate photos. Hey, I am heading off to a family vacation-combination trip to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego in a couple of weeks. Will I be indulging in adult beverages? You know it! Will I be in a bathing suit in the hot tub? Oh, yeah! Will I be sharing photos of me in a bathing suit? Um. No. No one wants to see that! My indulgence in alcohol is limited to one gin and tonic a day. Would I post a video of me dancing on a table because I’ve had two G&Ts? Hell, no.
One time, after I’d just brought the nearly hairless Ickis home, I posted a photo of him lying on the warm clothes in the clothes dryer and let me tell you, it opened a sh**storm of comments. As a cat mom for close to 40 years, I have always been well aware cats love warm clothes, and everyone in our family knows to check for all of the cats before a dryer is ever closed–it’s one of the rules of the road of the Hess family. People who knew me know how careful I am with my fur-babies. People who don’t know me, and let’s face it people, most of the people with whom you are “friends” on Facebook are probably not cognizant of the real you, lost their minds at the Ickis pic.
Would you know I was a responsible pet parent if you just saw Ickis in a dryer? No. Should I have put a disclaimer that I know the dangers of cats in dryers? Possibly. Did I regret having posted it? Probably.
Can you imagine if I was going to work with a cat brand who knew NOTHING about me and they saw that picture? They would probably have withdrawn the offer because it appears I was not acting in a responsible pet parent way.
Lessons learned. What may seem an innocent comment or (cat in a dryer) photo can color the perception others who don’t know you, have of you. You certainly don’t want to completely change your personality, but if you’re a business owner who wants to grow your business, work with brands and make money, you may need to temper your online comments. Take your thoughts offline or share them privately with a friend. The same is true for individuals who are seeking employment or who are employed. I have seen employees bad mouthing their employers, and I wonder if they have suffered the consequences of that. If I was an employer I wouldn’t be too happy.
Your online persona may be the first glimpse a brand or potential client has of you, make sure it’s a great first impression. As the old cliche goes, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression.”
Do you find you have to watch what you say or write online? Do you cringe when you see others bad mouthing a brand or product? Do your social media pages and your online persona project what you want them to as a business owner? I’d love to know how you balance who you are versus what you say online.
Robbi Hess is an award-winning author, full-time writer, newspaper columnist, writing coach and time-management guru. She works with bloggers and solopreneurs and blogs at All Words Matter. I will be speaking at BlogPaws 2017 as part of the Cat Writers’ Association. My topic is: “Overworked & Overwhelmed? The Four-Step Process for Reinventing Your Writing” Synopsis: Whether you’re writing full time, blogging, in the midst of a multi-book project or just starting out, this session will help you lose the feeling of being overworked and overwhelmed. You’ll learn a four-step process to beat procrastination, use time blocking to help you get more done, claim your writing time and bump up your creativity and some in-the-trenches writing tips, hacks and advice. There will be giveaways, handouts and time for questions! Hope to see you there!