All Business Experts -True Film Production Press

All Business Experts

9 Tips for Dealing With Controversial Issues on Social Media

As a business, it’s your job to remain neutral on any controversial stances to avoid risking your reputation and losing customers in the process. With you and your employees actively posting on social media, however, the lines can be blurred on the matter of sharing views that may not necessarily reflect those of the company. That’s why we asked nine entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:

Q. What is one tip for businesses to deal with controversial issues on social media (e.g., politics during an election year)?

1. Use The “Staff Meeting Test”

When it comes to political matters, if you wouldn’t share your opinion loudly with everyone during a staff meeting, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. Your actions and words reflect on the company at all times. –Kevin Conner, Vast Bridges

2. Talk to Your Employees

Let employees know up-front that the business avoids controversial topics on social media, and give examples. In case someone at your business decides to act on the business’s behalf or tag the business (or business owner), it’s best for them to know to not do it up-front than to have to address it after the fact. Social conversations can easily escalate if clear boundaries aren’t set up-front. –Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt

3. Take Controversial Issues Offline

The Internet never forgets. Even if you think engaging with a controversial issue is “on-brand” now, it may not be in the future. Once it’s online, you can’t undo it (as we’ve seen from the failed recoveries to the countless gaffes by brands on social over the years). So, if you must engage online, take it offline by offering the other party in the conversation a phone number or an email. –Brennan White, Cortex

4. Develop a Decision-Making Flow Chart

The web has its share of anonymous critics because it’s easy to relay false information and pass it off as fact. What’s key is developing a framework that’ll guide you and your organization to know if and when you should engage in conversation. Developing the decision tree in a time of calm will give you the confidence to address issues (or not) as they arise. –David Ciccarelli, Voices.com

5. Don’t Get Involved

Your company, as an entity, has no political views. Don’t make the mistake of representing your ideas and opinions through your business. Steer clear of taking part in these discussions, and remember that there is almost no position you can take, not even extreme neutrality, that will absolve you from negative reactions from potential consumers. –Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

6. Take Advantage of Trending Topics While Staying Neutral

You can use a humorous post to address a trendy topic, as long as you stay neutral. Think of a clever post that relates to your brand and that pokes fun at the issue without offending either side. Use trending hashtags with the post to increase engagement on your social media pages. –Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

7. Be Ready to Deal With a Crisis

Anytime you’re working with social media (and even if you’re not) you should be ready to deal with a social media crisis at any moment. That means listening to what people are saying to or about your brand, and being available to respond very quickly and in a way that will calm people down. Just making people feel listened to is often enough to defuse a potentially harmful situation. –Mattan Griffel, One Month

8. Don’t “Feed the Trolls”

It won’t surprise you to learn that the Internet can be a hostile place. But negativity feeds on itself. Don’t be afraid to express yourself, but don’t respond to hostility if it shows its face. It can be very tempting to want to get the last word in, but it will only make a bad situation worse. Take the high road, every time. –David Henzel, MaxCDN

9. Make Conversation, Not Statements

If your brand involves itself with controversial trends on social media, be sure to create conversation points with your network instead of creating statements or taking sides. Rather than stating which presidential candidate your brand supports, engage your followers in posts that ask them their opinions, and let them create conversation around your posts. This is safe but still allows for involvement. –Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

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