Businesses: Keep Politics Off Your Social Media Platforms. Or Don’t??

Fricanos PizzaWhether or not you support him, you must admit this election cycle has seen no shortage of cringe-worthy moments related to Donald Trump. He has said and done countless things that fly in the face of what any campaign strategist or public relations professional would have recommended, and he has survived them all. In fact, it could be argued that many times, his actions have endeared him to his supporters even more.

Now it appears the Teflon protection from negative consequences Trump has enjoyed is extended to at least one of his supporters.

Grand Rapids pizzeria owner Doug Fricano took to his business’s Facebook page Oct. 22 to share why he dislikes Hillary Clinton and supports Trump.

I don’t come across this sort of action taken by businesses nearly as often as I catch them responding inappropriately to negative reviews, so it genuinely makes me raise my eyebrows when it happens.

We wrote about why you should avoid political posts on social media a while back, but Fricano’s Facebook rant shows that some business owners  simply don’t care what we public relations professionals might recommend. And in this case, it appears that his business is no worse for the wear as a result.

Fricano told the Detroit Free Press his phones are ringing off the hook since he wrote that post. He’s had to order more product to keep up with the increased business. He reported losing 67 friends on Facebook, but gaining 728 new ones.

I routinely offer this advice to business owners:

Avoid posting anything on social media that might alienate your customer base. If your business isn’t directly related to politics, keep your personal opinions personal.

When I learned of this story from a Washington Post reporter who called me seeking comment (I don’t think his story ever ran), all my comments to the reporter’s questions revolved about my advice above. But just as Trump’s actions often fly in the face of best recommended practices without harming his campaign, Fricano’s remarks seem to have helped his business more than they harmed it.

This situation is reminiscent of the Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy of 2012. The fast food chain made headlines when its chief operating officer spoke out against same-sex marriage. People like me sat back and watched, and assumed sales would be adversely affected. I was surprised to read that quite the opposite happened. One research firm reported that visits to the restaurant increased, according to ABC news. Another source reported a 12 percent sales increase.

Regarding Fricano’s Facebook post, I’m a believer in not taking unnecessary risks that have the potential to harm your business. However, I’m also a believer in following your gut instinct. Fricano told media outlets this issue was important enough to him that if he lost business as a result, so be it.

Perhaps that is the true takeaway here. If you’re going to share your opinions on your business’s social media platforms, just be prepared for the consequences, good or bad. You have a 50-50 chance. I may always advise against taking that risk, but I find it oddly refreshing to see an example where the action that flies in the face of recommended best practices pays off.

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