Your actions online matter. Every post, tweet, share, every opinion you express leaves a lasting impression about you and your business. As a business owner, your goal is to ensure the consequences of your actions are positive, or at least aren’t going to harm your business.
This is more important for small business owners. In general, a small business’ fortunes are tied to the relationships they’ve built in their community. Those relationships are your business’ assets, so when you damage those relationships, you can potentially damage your business.
If you’re a restaurant owner with very liberal political views that you share frequently and passionately online, you run the risk of alienating your conservative customers. If 40 percent of your customers are conservative and you annoy 50 percent of them enough that they never come back, that’s a 20 percent drop in your customer base. It probably won’t happen all at once. Worse, it will happen over time and you’ll probably miss it. They have the right not to patronize you, of course, and they won’t if they’ve been offended by what you’ve said about conservatives online. What does a 20 percent decrease in your customer base look like to you, or your accountant?
Thanks to the internet, we can dig up years of information on businesses and people. What you say now can come back to be used against you a year, two years or even five years from now. With every word you type online you’re creating a legacy. My suggestion to all small business owners is that they carefully shape their online presence to be leave a positive impression upon everyone.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t express support for the things you believe online. Just do it in a civil, respectful way. This takes more work, but you’re creating a legacy so I think it’s worth it. When it comes to what you say online, your words don’t just fade away, like ripples in a pond. Your digital footprint isn’t permanent, but it’s effects are long lasting, so choose your words wisely.