Chick Fil A Controversy Begs the Question…Are You Free To Express Your Own Opinions On Social Media?

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Chik Fil A controversy this past week has had a lot of people talking, hasn’t it?  And it’s amazing that it was able to get so much attention at the very same time as the Olympics.  Seriously – it’d be hard to buy the amount of publicity they gained through word of mouth combined with incredible power of social media.

But it raises a good question for those who are active on social media and blogs: 

Just how honest should you be when you blog or tweet?   

Should that change just because your opinion might offend some people? 

This came up on my own Facebook page a few weeks ago – I posed a quote graphic intending to provide encouragement – instead, it got some people’s blood boiling! 

I don’t normally go seeking confrontation for it’s own sake.  That said, I don’t think it was a bad thing, and here’s why…

One of the most important things that I teach about social media, that I’ve seen time and time again, is that it is incredibly important to be yourself.  Write like yourself, tweet like yourself, and act like yourself.   Bring yourself to your business, not just a cardboard cutout version of yourself with perfect but stilted words and no opinion about anything. 

Your values and beliefs are a part of the uniqueness you bring to your business.   And goodness knows, these days there are a lot of pretty strong opinions out there about competing beliefs and values, right?

I’m not saying that you should deliberately go out and seek confrontation about what you hold dear – unless that too is authentically you.  I mean, it works for Perez Hilton, right?   There is a BIG difference between voicing your own belief system and attacking the beliefs of others. 

But if you try to hide your opinions for too long, you’ll seem cold to your readers.  And you’ll have a hard time building the connections that social media is all about. 

Will I lose followers if I’m honest about my opinions? 

I’ll be honest with you.  It’s highly likely that you will lose some people who disagree with your opinion.  Just like it’s your right to have a belief, it’s their right to act in accordance with theirs.

But – it stands to reason that if they unfollowed you because your opinions and beliefs were that different, they probably weren’t your ideal client anyway!

Opinions Gone Viral

Social media has greatly increased the ease with which peoples opinions can be shared far and wide.  Going back to the example of Chik Fil A, let’s look at what happened – with the issues taken out of it.  The founder shared an opinion about a hot button issue.  People on both sides had strong opinions in reaction.  People on both sides shared those opinions and what they thought others should do via social media.   Politicians got involved in expressing opinions, and suddenly the whole thing went viral and even got ugly in some cases.

Opinions can go viral in moments, thanks to social media. It makes you wonder if it’s worth being honest with who you are. 

What Do You Stand For? 

If you’re building a business on social media, you have to decide:  What do you stand for?  Do you stand for your beliefs and hold fast to them, or are you going to let other people dictate what you believe and what you share with the world? 

By being yourself, you don’t have to “be” an issue, a cause or anything like that.  But without being yourself, there’s no “you” to connect with, either.

Would love your comments…what do you think? Can you share your opinions on social media? Do you need to in order to be authentic?

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Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

Kim- I loved the post.  I believe that you CAN have an authentic presence in social media without letting everyone know every single thought or opinion you have.  Just as there is a distinction between authentic and fake, there is a distinction between authentic and lacking boundaries. I agree with Kim the commenter about avoiding topics like politics if it has nothing to do with your business.  My clients don't want or need to know my opinions on politics or hot topics unless it can in some way improve their business To date, I have not found anyone needing to know my position on the upcoming election or my views on gay marriage in order to accelerate their success.  =)

admin
admin
Reply to  Kelly
10 years ago

Thank you for jumping in Kelly!

Carla J Gardiner
Carla J Gardiner
10 years ago

It's taken this baby-boomer years to get to the point that I know who I am, what I believe and what I will and won't stand for. Social media is no different…I don't go looking for a fight, but I won't be used as anyone's doormat, either.

admin
admin
Reply to  Carla J Gardiner
10 years ago

Here here! Love it, Carla!

admin
admin
10 years ago

It is amazing how many get wrapped up in a position and then don’t even remember it a year later. You are right, Kim.

admin
admin
10 years ago

It’s a tough line for sure!

Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald
10 years ago

I feel like the above. If it's not bringing value to my clients or potential clients I stay away from it. Michael Jordan was asked why doesn't he endorse certain candidates and his reply was "conservatives buy shoes too". On the other hand, if I'm simply trying to get engagement then religion and politics will always get that.

Michele
Michele
10 years ago

Kim, I agree with most of the above comments. I have my opinions and they are strong. I also know that I am not going to convince or persuade anyone by voicing them. And the other side of that is I probably don't really care about other's opinions and it's highly unlikely that I am going to be persuaded. There are so many more important issues for us to discuss.

admin
admin
Reply to  Michele
10 years ago

Strong opinions are hard to hold in don’t you think?

Olga Hermans
Olga Hermans
10 years ago

I agree with all the above, I know I take all this in consideration. I am sometimes a little bit more expressive on my personal profile than on my biz page. I make a difference in the two; especially in my niche, people like to know what I stand for. So, it all depends. When people really do want to know you; they will find out one way or another….
The  other side to this is that sometimes people go all over the place to please everybody, just to be political correct. 

admin
admin
Reply to  Olga Hermans
10 years ago

So true, Olga!

Traci Woodside
Traci Woodside
10 years ago

Well said, Kim!  I do try to refrain from contraversial posts and tweets, but I do beleive it is important to voice your true opinions

admin
admin
Reply to  Traci Woodside
10 years ago

It’s a tough balance for sure!

Jan Maskew
Jan Maskew
10 years ago

Great article and I for one am glad this whole issue has settled down.

admin
admin
Reply to  Jan Maskew
10 years ago

It was kind of tense there for awhile wasn’t it? 🙂

admin
admin
10 years ago

This is an excellent point of view! I totally agree…you have to make sure you aren’t responding on pure emotion and the counting to 10 or waiting 24 hours really does help!

admin
admin
10 years ago

I prefer to avoid controversy too 😉

admin
admin
10 years ago

I agree, Liz. I think it’s important to be true to who we are but to not go out of our way to stir up controversy!

admin
admin
10 years ago

No, I think you need to be you.

Mandy Edwards
Mandy Edwards
9 years ago

I think there is nothing wrong with speaking your mind. We need to be authentic and that calls for us to be honest. I do not shout my beliefs all over the Internet but if asked, I would tell, just like Dan Cathy. I worked in marketing for Chick-fil-A and got to meet him on several occasions. Both he and his father are admirable, honest and strong businessmen. They know what they are doing and are not bowing to pressure in today's society. Yes this caused a PR nightmare but if he had been dishonest, he would have lost more raving fans than what happened when he was honest. 

admin
admin
Reply to  Mandy Edwards
9 years ago

AMEN! The bigger issue is that he has the right to his beliefs just like anyone else in this country!

admin
admin
9 years ago

I totally agree…we should never let others cow us into being something we aren’t! Appreciate you, Sue!!

Kerry Postel
Kerry Postel
9 years ago

Great article and it does make you stop and think. It makes me more aware of articles that I share as well. Thanks Kim.

admin
admin
Reply to  Kerry Postel
9 years ago

Thanks for dropping by Kerry!

Edmund Lee
Edmund Lee
9 years ago

I think there's a fine line between balancing the two.  Whereas it is totally important to share your beliefs, there should always be caution thrown to the wind to make sure that what you put out onto social media is something you're willing to risk answering to.

admin
admin
9 years ago

You are dead on Melodee! I totally agree 😉

Kim
Kim
9 years ago

No, my stance is that everyone should have the right and freedom to express their beliefs and not be judged for them. Chick Fil A has a right to their viewpoints, just as you do. I honor both sides of this is my point. I think everyone has a voice and should not be stomped on because they believe differently than someone else.

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