For many businesses, there can be a lot of concern about what is and isn’t appropriate for them to comment on in their social media posts. The fear of being targeted for saying something wrong can make businesses unwilling to comment on anything at all. However, sometimes it’s worse to say nothing. Silence can be deafening.
So how do you know when it’s right to speak up or better to stay quiet in certain debates? We recommend commenting on issues that are truly important to you and to your target audience. Your personal beliefs and your customers’ beliefs should guide how your business responds to cornerstone topics, as well as when to comment and when to listen.
Let your beliefs lead you
When it comes to commenting on important topics and current events, sincerity is your best and only guide. Be real. Say or do things because you mean it, not just because you think you should.
If you feel particularly strongly about something or it affects you or your target audience directly, then don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in. Even though you are speaking on behalf of your business, you need to speak from your heart. The best and only way to be authentic in your social media strategy is to be true to your beliefs.
To comment or not to comment
On other issues, it’s fine to show you stand by your followers but it’s best to avoid passing opinions on topics that don’t relate to you and your target audience. If you are not familiar with the discussion, then don’t try to offer up your ideas and opinions. Instead, let others do the talking.
You don’t need to weigh in on every debate just because you think you should. Don’t feel bullied into commenting. Once again, let sincerity be the guide to your brand strategy. Choose issues that genuinely matter to you and have a direct impact on your target audience.
Be prepared to defend your views
If you do choose to comment on an issue or post something on your social media, you need to be prepared that you might get called out for your comments. This is why it’s so important that your actions are genuine: you need to be able to defend your position if you are questioned.
This is a really good rule of thumb for gauging the topics you want to comment on and those you might want to avoid. Try to ask yourself the following questions:
• Is this topic relevant to my brand?
• Is this topic relevant to my customers?
• If I am challenged, can I defend my position?
• Do I truly believe what I am saying?
• When I look back in 10 years, will I stand by these views?
If you can answer yes to each of these questions, then it’s the right thing to do. If you are uncertain about any of the questions, you might want to think again about what you are saying or how you are saying it.
Building and maintaining trust
In the digital age, brands have to work harder than ever to build and maintain trust with their customers. Trust is one of the most crucial aspects of your relationship with your customers - if there’s no trust, there’s no business.
One of the quickest ways to lose trust is if you’re seen to be saying one thing but doing another. This applies to your products and services, your marketing and your brand values. There has to be consistency across the board.
An obvious example of this might be if you advertised how your brand is committed to fair trade, but in fact you were found to be paying below market price for certain goods. What you’re saying and what you’re doing doesn’t match up. Immediately, the trust is broken and your relationship with your customers is severed.
Digital technology and social media have made it possible to have a permanent record of everything you say and do. Things you post now may be referenced years and even decades down the line. Hence, it’s really important that you fully believe in what you’re saying and that you know you will still believe it in the future.
The Importance of authenticity
If you feel that your brand is lacking an authentic voice, now is the time to change that. Though you might think that it’s safer not to comment on key issues at all, this isn’t necessarily the best way forward. If you do nothing, you run the risk of being seen as out of touch.
Your business needs to be able to respond to current events, especially if they directly affect your target audience. The world is not static, it’s constantly changing and shifting around us. The best and only guide is sincerity: be compassionate, be brave and be human.