You need to stop it with the politics on Facebook.
Yes, you, I’m talking to you. You. Need. To. Stop. With. The. Politics. On. Facebook.
Listen, I understand. You’re passionate about Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders, or religious freedom, or Black Lives Matter, or whatever. That’s great. Really. You’re a concerned citizen, and you care. We need more of that in this county.
Just not so much on the Facebook.
At least, not so much of it on Facebook if you’re a real estate professional and you’re looking to generate business from social media. That is, if you only use Facebook for personal use, and you don’t care about building relationships that could lead to business, well then fire away! Be as political as you want!
But if you’ve built up your Facebook friends list with an eye toward your business, you need to stop it with your politics.
Why? Well, I hate to break this to you, but not everyone agrees with you. This is a deeply polarized country, and most studies show that we’re divided just about evenly between the “good guys” who want to preserve what’s great about this nation, and the “bad guys” who are hellbent on destroying the very fabric of our American values. Most studies show that this country is about 45% one way, 45% the other, and then 10% of people who are truly independent (and usually apolitical).
And, generally speaking, we don’t choose our friends or family or colleagues based on their political values. So unless you’ve already cleared your friends lists of all the “libtards” or “teabaggers” you know, you probably have a lot of people on there who disagree with you. And every time you post another “THE TRUTH ABOUT BENGHAZI” or “BAN ALL THE GUNS” meme, you’re generating one of these reactions:
- They’re rolling their eyes, and/or
- They’re commenting negatively on your post, and/or
- They’re figuring out how to “mute” you, and/or
- They’re “un-friending” you.
You see my point? NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR BUSINESS. These are all ostensibly people you know, whom you like, who like you enough to “friend” you, and who are hopefully potential clients. But instead of you using Facebook to cultivate a stronger relationship with them, they’re either laughing at you, fighting with you, muting you, or unfriending you.
And what are you gaining in return? Do you think that your 27th post about Donald Trump (whether pro or con) is going to change the hearts and minds of the people on your friends list? You’re not persuading anyone. At best, you’re venting. At worst, you’re trying to stir the pot by tormenting people who disagree with you. And by “people,” I mean “potential clients.” Or, more precisely, “People who used to be potential clients until you decided to piss them off for no reason.”
Now, maybe you have this idea that your political posts are actually HELPING your business by created a “target market” of potential clients who share your political leanings. Maybe you’re willing to write off 45% of your market to raise your appeal to the other 45% and become the professional-of-choice to the “Tea Party Patriots” or the “Occupy Wall Streeters” in your area.
But that’s, no offense, a really stupid idea. Why? Because you’re much more likely to drive potential customers and clients away than attract them. That is, you’re driving away the people who disagree with you because they’re fighting with you, muting you, or unfriending you – essentially, you’re destroying the relationship that Facebook is designed to build.
But you’re not necessarily creating opportunities in your “target market,” because you’re not targeting people based on a consideration that they use in their hiring choices. Think of it this way: do you consider someone’s politics when making business decisions? Do you know whether your doctor agrees with you? Or your plumber? Or your accountant? Or your local restauranteur? Probably not. But if they threw their politics in your face, and you disagreed with them, would you be less likely to work with them? Absolutely!
Well, that’s what you’re doing. You’re writing off 45% of your potential market, without materially helping yourself with the people who are left. That’s not a great way to build your business.
At the very least, if you’re going to get political on Facebook with the idea of actually building, rather than undermining, your business, try taking these steps to actually target your market correctly:
- Create a separate Facebook profile.
Having two profiles is a violation of Facebook TOS, but it’s not particularly well-enforced. So create a second profile curated for only those friends that you know agree with you politically, and then rant and rave all over that one. In other words, you maintain two Facebook profiles – one for your nonpartisan business side, and one for your partisan personal side.
- Create a discussion group.
You can also create a Facebook discussion group and invite all your political friends to participate in it with you. You’ll have a grand old time just beating up on those [derogatory term for people who disagree with you], and if you keep the group “Closed”, no one on the outside will have any idea that you just called their favorite candidate all sorts of bad names.
- Create a “Politics list”.
Create a “list” of friends that you know agree with you. Then, when you make a political post, click on the button on the bottom right of the box, where it says “Public,” and pull it down to choose the “Politics” list. Only those people will see it, and no one else. That’s the way to “target market” your political friends, without alienating everyone else.
Finally, one last piece of advice: if you absolutely, positively have to be political on Facebook, try to STAY POSITIVE. If you love Marco Rubio or Hillary Clinton and feel compelled to share your support by posting a positive message or article, go ahead and do it. People might disagree with you, but they generally won’t begrudge something like that. Don’t do it every day, and don’t get into fights with people who might disagree with you, but being in business shouldn’t mean that you completely neuter your personal opinions. If you stay positive, you’ll probably be fine.
But that’s not what most people do. I don’t know why, but most of the political posts I see on Facebook are shrill and negative. Go look through your feed. For every positive political message, you’ll see ten divisive, taunting, nasty, insulting posts.
If you feel compelled to do that, then go ahead and feed your need. But just realize that half the people you know are tuning you out, and they buy houses too.
Editor’s Note: This was originally published on Inman Media on January 29, 2016 as “Why Agents Should Stop it With the Politics on Facebook”.