It was only one week ago that we elected Donald Trump as our 45th President of the United States. It was a surprise outcome and the conversation is quite different than expected. Nowhere else did this become more apparent than in my social media feeds –  everything from posts expressing shock, glee, lament, to those threatening to go on a ‘Facebook unfriending frenzy’ on those who voted to the contrary and move to Canada.

The decisions our government makes affect us greatly so naturally we have a range of emotions and opinions. The issue many of us businessowners struggle with, even during non-election times: how much of your political beliefs should you share online?

This is a very complex question and there is no one right answer. Here are a few things to consider.

Will voicing your opinion hurt your company’s brand?

Even if you are a solopreneur like me, you still have a brand – you are known for X. Do you want it overshadowed by sparking debates on things that have nothing to do with your business or brand? For example, my blogs and feeds are mainly about running an online business and marketing so does it make sense for me to come out for or against one political party over another?

Like many business owners across the country, GrubHub’s CEO Matt Maloney reached out to share his thoughts about the election and ended up provided a lesson on how one email could spark a firestorm. It probably won’t hurt his company in the long run, but now people may associate his personal feelings with the business. It also may have affected the company’s employees – who may have viewed it as a personal attack even when it was not.

Will it really make a difference?

Let’s face it, everyone has an opinion and it’s unlikely to change. When was the last time you saw people arguing about politics, and someone said “omg you’re right! I see your point and I’m going to change my mind!”  I’ll venture to guess f*cking never.

And this is on BOTH sides.

Our household is a “split ticket” and nothing has caused more friction in the last few months than arguing over so-and-so’s emails. It wasn’t so much a political argument but more about logistics… My husband with his security clearance upset about handling of classified information and my disdain for inefficiency ha ha. It never came down to name-calling or the “I” words (ignorant / idealistic) but there were some patronizing eye-rolls.

If I’ve learned anything lately, it’s that trying to get my point across to someone who doesn’t care to listen only makes for hurt feelings and I was taking the wrong approach. Trust me, being married 22 years, it’s bound to happen! Here’s a great and helpful article about this topic: My Husband and I Disagree About Politics and It Enrages Me.

Risk Vs Reward

I totally understand that, as a business owner, you want to come across as “authentic.” This may take the form of an edgy post, inappropriate humor, or taking a contrarian stance on an issue. And these are all fine. But just understand that when it comes to political views, what you share may end up alienating people rather than attracting ideal clients.

For one thing, we share too much. 9 out of 10 U.S. adults believe that people are sharing too much information about themselves online (Intel Mobile Etiquette and Digital Sharing Survey). I know it can feel that the only way to get likes and shares is to divulge and over-share, but at what risk?

And if you think that just because you have your personal Facebook account for family and friends and a separate business page, you should be fine – think again – no matter how much you think you keep your accounts separate, you most likely have business contacts on both.

I can hear it now – “If someone chose not to work with me because of my political views, then I wouldn’t want to work with them” and “Some issues are more important than being successful in business.” What about the person just starting out and needs to work? Are they selling out?

But that’s not the question. My question is “why go this far?

I was getting my hair done the other day and asked my hairdresser what it’s been like to work in a battleground state when a client asks who she’s voting for. Her response made me laugh. “I just smile and ask them, ‘who did YOU vote for?’ and sort of nod my head in agreement and say ‘me too.’ I mean, why make waves and possibly lose a client over something that they care nothing about, my opinion.”

Definitely something to think about. I mean, I’ve never discussed politics with my clients one on one, so I’m not going to start doing it on Facebook.

What do you think? My goal here is to have an open discussion and get your opinion. Is this something you’ve struggled with? Do you have any pointers? Tell me in the comments below.