The Elections Are Coming! The Elections Are Coming!

Like many Americans, you probably have political and social views, and those you feel strongly about. You also know that, if you work with the public in a profit-making enterprise, there isn’t much benefit in expressing any of the views which may be divisive or partisan. Whether you skew right, left, or center, your political views are likely something that you keep to yourself, regardless of whether most of your clients or customers agree with you or not.

What do you do, then, if your personal or business social media presence has been hijacked by a political conversation? It doesn’t take much to light the fuse, especially as we go into the 2016 Presidential Election cycle, when so many more people are engaged in the political process.

It isn’t enough to simply avoid some topics. Financial professionals, to name one example, deal with topics that so frequently cross over with the world of politics.

Here are three ways to keep the peace on social media.

Lay down the law: You have a right to regulate the conversation in your social media presence and/or let your followers and friends know the “rules” for your feed. Post something that will end the conversation respectfully:

  • “I appreciate the opinions of everyone here, but respectfully ask that political conversations happen elsewhere.”
  • “I know these are issues that many feel passionately about, but I’d like my page to stay neutral when it comes to politics.”
  • “I feel like this thread has gotten a bit off topic. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but I’d rather steer clear of politics on my feed. I hope everyone understands.”

A private word: You will probably want to delete any comments of a political nature from your feed (possible on some platforms, but not others). A quick direct message explaining your actions and why you’ve taken them will soften the blow, especially if they are a current or potential client. If they are someone you work with closely, a telephone call might also be appropriate.

The banhammer: If a word to the wise proves insufficient, or if there are repeated incidents, the various social media platforms offer you options to ban or block certain users from posting or commenting.

Considering that we are still a year away from Election Day 2016, I hope that you won’t have to use these methods too often! Our political system is one of the things that makes our country great, but, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you want to be careful where you set it off!

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