As a CEO, Are You Damaging Yourself With Political Rants on Facebook?

I have been watching in utter amazement as I see CEOs and senior level executives posting political comments on Facebook and tweeting out their support for particular candidates in this year's election. But what has truly amazed me is the level of partisanship that is being posted in the public domain.

I never thought I would see a CEO of a company call people "morons" or "idiots" for supporting either Trump or Clinton. Do they not realize that half of the people they are addressing are their own clients and prospects? Sure, let's call half of our prospects and clients "morons." They'll really love that.

The posts I really enjoy reading, are the ones that start out by saying: "Regardless of who you support, you should read this..." I guess this is some way to rationalize that your post really isn't partisan, but actually balanced and impartial. Trust me, it's not working. Everyone knows what you are doing. No one is falling for it.

Polls show that, as of today, the election is a dead heat, meaning that half of your existing clients, and half of your prospects, are likely to be opposed to your particular meme or posting. So you are likely to piss off half of your clients and prospect. All I can ask is "Why?" What is it that compels you to risk alienating a client or prospect? When you post these items, do you actually believe that you are going to change someone's mind? Hopefully, you're smarter than that. Although my information is more anecdotal than empirical, I can honestly say that I have never met a person who told me they changed their mind and supported the "other" candidate because of a Facebook post they read.

To prove my point, ask yourself this question: Have you ever had someone say to you: "Gee whiz, (insert your name here), I read your post about (Trump/Clinton), and you completely convinced me I was wrong in supporting him/her. You really opened my eyes. And when you called me a moron for supporting him/her, that really put me over the top. I certainly don't want to be a moron. Thanks so much for enlightening me."

If this has never been said to you, there's a reason. It's because you aren't changing anyone's mind. So why do you feel the need to make these posts?

My sense is that it makes you feel good, and that's all there is to it. It's a great way of venting at the people who don't support your view. The problem is, according to recent polls, that about half the people reading your posts and tweets, don't support your position or candidate. So why would you want to call them names and alienate them? You can't be that clueless.

I submit that those of you doing this are probably violating your own corporate social media policy (if you even have one). You would never allow your employees to post things that would reflect back on your company. You, as the CEO or senior executive, can't separate your personal life from your business life in social media. Clients and prospects know who you are and immediately associate your comments with your company...because, to them, you ARE the company. Everything you say or post is a reflection on you, and hence, the company you run. You can't offend or call people names and expect them to not have some negative feelings about you and your company.

According to a recent survey by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, 45% of people said they would be less willing to buy from your company if they disagree with you. Why risk this to make a political expression?

Furthermore, Leslie Gaines-Ross of Weber Shandwick stated that "political endorsements are likely to remain something of a taboo. CEOs have long given money to political candidates, and plenty of business leaders do speak out. But it remains relatively rare to see sitting CEOs of Fortune 500 companies vocally endorse a particular presidential candidate."

If they won't risk it, why do you?