Can Social Networking Sabotage Your Small Business?

Today's web-savvy small business owners are flooding to the social networking sites and finding that it is easier than ever to build new friendships, partner with peers and increase web sales. Transparency is the new trend. See who I am, what I do, the things I like, the people I know, and the places I visit. Once visitors see the "real" you, the hope is that you'll build trust and they'll feel motivated to do business with you. Sounds great, and works great often times, but today's thought to ponder is simply this: Can Social Networking Sabotage Your Small Business?

Let's focus upon two of the most popular sites, like Facebook and Twitter. For many of us, it is not difficult to figure out the person behind the store. Some people even use their personal profiles to advertise said store! Considering that we all share various levels of private information on those profiles, are the posts that you make ones that you want to whole world to access? The whole world can, to a degree. Twitter, unless you completely privatize your status, is available to all, and tweets appear in search engine results. Voila... you're public! Facebook privacy can be customized, to a point, but if you have hundreds, or thousands of friends, that's pretty public, too.

So what are you sharing?

You know, I was a bartender, back in the day. One of the unwritten rules of bartending is that you don't bring up subjects like Religion and Politics... it always ends up in an argument! So, inviting the inevitable, I am going to pick Politics as my subject here.

I see a lot of political rambling, at both Facebook and Twitter, from many people who I know to be online merchants. Usually, I just skim over it, because I am still that bartender above, and I really don't want to discuss politics. I worry about those folks, though. Why? Well, not only do I think that they could be alienating potential clients, I really feel that a little mystery, a little temperance, would only enrich their success. Look at the following pie chart:

This chart represents the United States in the year 2004. I found it at Wikipedia, while I was researching the number of registered voters. That's a total of 169 millions voters! Since 2004, I am sure that number has grown.

Now don't pay attention to the division in parties... just the number of voters. Regardless of your political party, that's an awfully large number of potential customers that you may piss-off with your side of the rhetoric. Can you take that chance?

I have two kids who are now registered voters. Appealing to the younger generation, I asked each of them the same question. Would a rant, taking a stance on a broad topic, such as Politics or Religion, influence your decision to make a purchase from a store? They both said yes. Once child even mentioned the word tolerance as being a quality that today's youth admire, whether it pertains to Politics, Religion, Race, Equal Rights, the Right To Life, or Gay Pride. To be tolerant, you must be socially accepting of others' views. I agree with them... do you?

Let's take a poll!
If a store owner was publicly against one of your views, political or religious, would it stop you from making a purchase at their store?

pollcode.com free polls

Please vote! Your answers may be very revealing.

And store owners, please take a moment to think about the consequences of what you post. Sharing too much on social networks just might sabotage your small business. Perhaps it's time to separate your personal profile from your business.


Aesthetics48 said...

If I really wanted the Item I wouldn't care about anyone's politics. :) Buying isn't that personal for me.

Fleapirates said...

Here's an example...

I just made a rather large online purchase tonight. What I wanted was sold at 3 different sites, 2 which I follow on social networks and one which I receive email marketing from.

I quite literally had 3 tabs open, and compared product styles and colors on all sites, along with pricing and "deals".

(I ended up choosing the one with Free Shipping, btw.)

Fortunately, none of these fine sites make ANY reference to any subject outside of their products, but IF they HAD posted something which I found offensive, it would have immediately eliminated them from my consideration.

Just sayin'! :)

Fleapirates said...

Thanks, Ace!

I suppose if it was an item I wanted badly, or could not get somewhere else, I might be coerced into a purchase!

Guess I am just a true Libra personality... want that fairness and balance.

And I want to know how other feel, so keep commenting! :)