Republican – Democrat & eCommerce Merchant? Mums The Word

The political season is in full bloom…


Strange bedfellows

With the recent Democratic National Convention winding down and the Republican National Convention gearing up, political emotions are reaching a heightened level.

No matter which side of the aisle your personal political beliefs fall, is there any good reason to let the charged atmosphere enter your online business life?

One only need look at the television reports from St Paul, Minnesota – showing protesters in the streets devastating the city with destruction in the name of what should have been peaceful political demonstration – to know these highly charged emotions can become very serious.

Political Lines in the Sand

People seem to draw very distinct lines in the sand during the height of these every 4 year events, otherwise known as Presidential elections.

Having a political opinion and being a part of the process is all part of the American experience, it is one of the best parts of being a citizen in a free democracy.

Sharing that opinion with potential website customers or clients, may not be one of the wisest marketing strategies available to online marketers, however.

Any impression imparted to the public should be of a positive nature.  While your personal and political views seem very positive to you and your political party, these same opinions may seem exactly opposite to those on the other side of the political spectrum.

Do you really want to impart a negative impression upon nearly 1/2 of the potential buyers for your products or services?

Twitter Politics ?

Recently, I have been involved with several Twitter conversations which have been shaped by this politically charged atmosphere.  My point of view was very reasonable and fair in these conversations, (at least this is the perception I have of my views). The people I was conversing with could have, and in some cases, did have a different impression.  But what about the people who viewed these open conversations and were not a part of the discourse?

Did I gain or lose followers on Twitter and potential clients because I expressed my political ideals or defended them in an open forum?  Some would say, why care? I have a right to express my views, wherever and whenever I like.  Yes, of course, expressing your views is all part of freedom of speech. Having rights and invoking them is sometimes a matter of discretion.  While still holding my beliefs, I see no reason to protest my beliefs to the point of losing friends and possible clients along the way.

Having an opinion and expressing that opinion are rights in America, not obligations.

Wisdom and experience teach all of us many things. Restraint should be one of the most valuable lessons.  Hold your beliefs true, share them in appropriate circles, converse with friends and family but keep the political ads and banners off your ecommerce website if your goal is to convert and keep as many customers as possible.

Energizing the base of political supporters in your party’s job, Republicans and Democrats alike will try to elicit your support with the request to post these types of banners and ads for Obama or McCain on any highly trafficked web property.  I suggest taking a moment to fully evaluate the impact this could have on any Internet business.

Invoke your right to make a living first!

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0 Responses to Republican – Democrat & eCommerce Merchant? Mums The Word

  1. Keith Bloemendaal September 2, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    Great advice Scott. While I have tried to keep my online opinions neutral, I am sure that I could have upset someone along the way. Thanks

  2. Henrietta September 2, 2008 at 11:34 am #

    Words of wisdom indeed.

  3. Randy Smythe September 2, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    Yeah, it is best to keep them separate. A customer’s money spends the same no matter what their politics.

  4. Sachin Agarwal September 3, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    This is (part of) why we maintain separate personal Twitter accounts in addition to the corporate @dawdledotcom account. After hours, I’ll tend to get a bit more political and less online marketplace and video games. All our employees are encouraged to Tweet, and they can say whatever they want, but the @dawdledotcom account is the corporate voice and must be specific to the business only.

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