Yesterday I offered a little personal tome about voting. I felt awkward posting it since this blog is not about politics, nor my personal opinion. Yes, my feelings on certain issues percolate from time to time here, but you don’t read this blog for Jason’s personal world view. This blog is about social media, public relations, marketing and communications. My opinions on those topics is fair game. But how far outside that realm is acceptable?

The majesty of blogging is that it is what you make it. While it is clear this website serves as a conduit for people interested in working with me or Kat through our agency, Doe-Anderson, it is my blog, a personal possession, that I can use however I like. Straying off the beaten path is my decision to make. I only risk losing readers (or possibly gaining others) if I do that.

But strategically, it’s not always smart to do that. And the closer you get to a targeted, business-oriented blog, the more important it is to remember that there’s a time and place for your personal views and the blog often isn’t one of them.

Before posting yesterday’s tome, I polled my Twitter followers on the topic, expressing no desire to start a personal blog for such instances when I just want to offer up something off topic, and asking if they thought it was okay to divert from what the audience comes for on occasion. Here’s what they said:

Craig Kessler

CraigKessler


The election is happening one way or another. Might as well post and have your opinions be heard. It will stir up debate.


Gingerlatte

Gingerlatte


I often wonder why ppl would be annoyed by a blogger writing something personal. Dont we have personal lives too?


Julie Bush

JulesIndy


– I’d welcome your post on voting or just about any subject you find to be important…


Lisa Hoffmann

LisaHoffmann

You’re forgetting that we all see you as person, not a “blogger.” Think the occassional personal post adds dimension. I like it.


roundpeg

roundpeg

Good question. As my biz blog takes on more of my personality, i have less to say in my personal blog. Wheres the line?


Julie Niesen

winemedineme

I did rant about blogging etiquette when someone plagiarized my content. Does that count? :)


mstory123

mstory123

– way too much hate out there, brother. I am politically mute. Way too friggin’ ugly.


Gingerlatte

Gingerlatte

Why not? It’s something that’s on everyone’s minds. I say go ahead. Just try to tie it in to the main topic of your blog


Natalie Ebig Scott

Natalie_Joy

Bottom line, it’s yours. If it becomes uber personal, you risk losing readers. I don’t think that will happen…


Thomas Powell

stringsn88keys

You could probably have a “sidebar” section of the site if you’re so inclined.


R Lemley

usegraymatter

I think it’s all in the execution: is the “personal” judgemental? Alienating? Or fairminded,open&considerate to your community?


Andre Blackman

mindofandre

I feel like you can write abt personal stuff occaisionally – its your blog, if ppl dont wanna read it, they dont have to?


Susan Getgood

sgetgood

to some extent yes. depends on how much you want to write. a little now & then is fine. a lot, best to take it to a new space


Brandon Chesnutt

bchesnutt

aren’t all blogs, on some level, personal? Personal opinion and beliefs typically have some level of influence over the content


Andre Natta

acnatta

that’s what I tend to do – though I’ve been too swamped to even have a personal opinion recently ;-)


davidweiner

davidweiner

I’m struggling with that right now too. I stopped blogging about politics in 2005 and now I really want to post one but can’t!


Tony Katz

tonykatz

what’s the topic? I blog on AdGrinder, but never politically…I save that for tonykatz.com…what is the context of your blog?


igorthetroll

igorthetroll

Also having a strong character and believes will garnish u respect from your hardcore followers!


Julie Niesen

winemedineme

For me, because my topic has nothing to do with politics, I haven’t voiced an opinion on my blog.


msweezey

msweezey

its easy to move off topic, but your blog should center around one topic and stay on point, put personal on your own blog


Cheapsuits

cheapsuits

yes, will read it on your personal blog. Not that I am not interested…


Michelle Jones

michellej

You’re a person, you have an opinion, if you feel compelled to share then share. You know the mantra: Be Human.


Melanie Baker

melle


Long as, y’know, you don’t just spout off or act completely self-servingly with it.


Melanie Baker

melle

I think injecting a bit of humanity can add a good tone, and provide content variety.


msweezey

msweezey

its all in what is the purpose of your blog? Is it to give your readers a piece of your mind, or is it to stay on topic? I


igorthetroll

igorthetroll

You may lose a few readers but u will gain many more! But it will depend on your character and confidence, if u succeed or fail


Sasha Kovaliov

nlupus

I think a bit of personal touch is a good. People want to know who you are.


Amber Naslund

AmberCadabra

Post. The last thing we need right now are too many filters, and your perspective is always a valuable one.


igorthetroll

igorthetroll

What is wrong with an Opinion?


Clearly, it seems okay to write what I wrote yesterday, so long as I stick to social media topics most of the time. But where is the limit? Who draws the line?

Then consider the problem with a brand or corporate blog. Part of the reason consumers aren’t as attracted to them is they are two stale, predictable and safe. Companies, CEOs and brand managers play the safe route. Taking a stand normally means 50 percent of the people hate you. God forbid!

But isn’t that what makes a company interesting? Engaging? Human?

What if you stumbled across a corporate blog yesterday where the CEO or Chief Marketing Officer or some other blogger for the company took a stand, picked a candidate to endorse and listed the reason’s why? Wouldn’t it make you more interested in that company? Sure, it would upset some brand enthusiasts and loyalists, not to mention some people inside the company, but most businesses can be held up to the political litmus test and prove that one side or the other winning is more beneficial for the company. Why not state the case and explain why?

If Bob Lutz blogged yesterday that General Motors benefits from a McCain victory because the Republican agenda is tougher on foreign trade and labor unions than the Democrats, the automotive industry would be on fire today. It’s not wrong for someone to take a stand. Why is it wrong for a company to do so?

I’ve offered the advice here before that to be successful in brand building, and in blogging, you have to be bold. That is true for companies as it is for individuals.

How will your company be bold today?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Did you enjoy this blog post? If so, then why not:Leave Comment Below | Subscribe To This Blog | Sign Up For Our Newsletter |

About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

Other posts by

Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.beingpeterkim.com Peter Kim

    From our conversation last week, I gather that the election is a topic you had deep passion for. Shouldn't everything we blog about be something that we're on fire to share? With the line between professional and personal so blurred today – even your hypothetical GM example shows that…wait a second, is there a line anymore with the advent of social media?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      The line shouldn't be there, Peter, but it is. Especially in big corporations. The election is a perfect example. Most businesses benefit clearly from one side winning. But so that stock holders, employees, potential customers and other partners aren't pissed off at them, executives just donate to campaigns and keep their mouths shut. Companies aren't bold because taking a stand theoretically alienates half of your target. What they seem to forget is they're not getting half in the first place. Why not just get a smaller fraction of the total target that happens to be nuts about your brand because of your stance and personality?

  • BillSledzik

    Like you, I try to keep my blog focused on issues related to my field, public relations. But I think it's also important to put yourself out there — to be human. And to be human is to have opinions.

    But I want to comment on your question, because it's so important: “It’s not wrong for someone to take a stand. Why is it wrong for a company to do so?”

    No, Iit isn't “wrong” for a company exec to take a stand. But when you do, it comes with consequences — consequences can hurt your business and, in turn, the employees who depend on it and the stockholders who invested in it.

    Dan Cooper, CEO and founder of Cooper Arms, learned this lesson the hard way. He was driven from the top job of his own company because he dared support a candidate other than the one favored by the NRA. (Disclosure: I'm an NRA member and an Obama voter.)

    Yes, Dan is entitled to his opinion, and I support him 1000%. But he was naive to think it wouldn't draw the ire of the gun nuts — many of whom are his regular customers and supporters. For the sake of the company, Dan should have kept his presidential preference to himself. Free speech isn't free. Remember that.

    A link to the story: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/outposts/2008/1

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      That's a fair point, Bill, but my point goes farther up the ladder. Perhaps Cooper Arms is a bad example, but the company ought to embrace having a personality.

  • http://www.thesunrisestoday.com Tim Jahn

    As mentioned in the Twitter responses above, bloggers are people too. They're not entirely objective by any means. That's what makes blogging so fun…you get to know the person and you know you're reading a real person's work, not some journalism machine.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      True Tim and thanks for stopping by. But what about the corporate blog? Why is it companies can't be people (or at least the authors of those blogs be people) in their own space?

  • KatFrench

    It's all about the context…

    As you've noted, this is a particular business-y blog with a business-y purpose… and a very human voice (to which I'm proud to contribute).

    Ultimately, your post urging folks to vote has an implicit, if not explicit, connection to social media, which is all about individuals finding, and using the social web to amplify, their voice.

    I think the key difference is that for many corporate blogs, the purpose of the blog is to be an official, if more informal, channel for a publicly-held organization. In other words, while a blog allows more leeway in HOW the company says things, it doesn't grant total freedom in WHAT it can say.

    Ultimately, if content is counter to the best interests and purpose of the blog, it doesn't make the editorial cut. And let's not pretend that all kinds of content fails to make the editorial cut in blogging, even personal blogging, for all sorts of reasons. But those reasons often boil down to “it's counter to the best interests of what I'm trying to do here.”

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      True, but my point is that the corporate blog should allow more leeway in what the company can say, too. People don't trust companies unless they start acting human. A company stance can make that connection.

  • http://primecutsblog.com justinlevy

    I applaud you for using your blog to express your opinion on a very important matter for our country.

    While I understand your dilemma due to the focus of your blog and your position at Doe-Andersen, I think there are certain times that our blogs should be used to express your deep feelings about topics (i.e. the election, Blog Action Day, etc). One or two posts which are off the normal track out of hundreds of other focused posts helps to show other sides of your personality.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Justin. I think it's funny no one really noticed I didn't take a stance on which candidate.

      • http://primecutsblog.com justinlevy

        I definitely noticed but I think even if you did take a particular stance then that's ok too. It was an emotional election for a lot of people and I have enjoyed reading the different posts, whether they took a particular stance or not.

  • sblservices

    This presentation differ from other blogs,keep up the good work .
    Regards,
    SBL – Video audio tagging

  • http://nickyjameson.com nicky

    I must get a category called Phliosophy :) Seriously though, here's my take…1) it's your blog.Your rules. You should feel free to say whatever you wish. A blog is like your house in a way. Everyone who visits it has to respect that. No one can tell you what to do in your own home…and you can't please everyone all the time.

    2) it seems on a business related blog we tend to restrict ourselves to only business topics, not a bad idea. If it's focused on a topic you probably want to stay on topic as much as possible however the odd personal post I think is a good thing. The most interesting blogs are those that have personality, aren't afraid to show it and don't come across like a web site.

    I have a business and personal blog…. on my personal blog I am a lot more personal and I am more informal. On my business blog people can find some personal stuff about me… I did the second biggest meme ever….The biggest , at 100 is on my personal blog.

    @igorthetroll – On companies being human… the thing is a company is not a person, neither is a company brand so I think it's different. Companies are made up of groups of very different people and a mixture of different even opposing views who all agree to work for a common goal and mission. So I believe taking political positions can be tricky… they also are beholden to many stakeholders. I don't think CEO's can take publicly political stands….even if they hold strong personal views. They have to represent their stakeholders, including employees, customers, supplliers etc.

  • jeanette

    Found this new company, few colleagues have used them recently. The company is Mantra Hospitality and they focus on better business solutions for clients in the service industry. Figured I’d pass this on. They have a free newsletter that just started. http://www.MantraHospitality.com

  • jeanette

    Found this new company, few colleagues have used them recently. The company is Mantra Hospitality and they focus on better business solutions for clients in the service industry. Figured I’d pass this on. They have a free newsletter that just started. http://www.MantraHospitality.com