We’ve seen it all before: a business brought to ruin because of anÂ epic Twitter fail. Regardless of intention, an ill-timed tweet can be the demise of a well-crafted brand and brand message.
Political conversations like #BlackLivesMatter,Â church burnings, Bree Newsome; the African American woman who took down the confederate flag in South Carolina, and other issues may leave many entrepreneurs unsure about how to respond via their social media platform.
Recently, black blogger and business woman, Luvvie Ajayi,Â who blogs at Awesomely Luvvie, ‘called out’ beauty bloggers and celebritiesÂ for their silence in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Her question, in part, is why aren’t those with social media platforms using them to bring awareness to these issues? This is causing a stir among bloggers and entrepreneurs.We want to support our communities and Black Lives Matter, but we’ve also worked hard to build our brand, brand message and, more importantly, a client base built around less divisive topics.
“There’s a balance that many of us in the beauty and style space try to strike, because our readers are looking to us for that escape,” saysÂ Patrice Grell Yursik, founder ofÂ Afrobella. “It’s important to find the balance you can strike. It’s also important to not underestimate your audience.”
So how does an entrepreneur, who may have just started making a profit, respond to social unrest? How can we support #BlackLivesMatter and also stay true to the messaging we’ve curated over time?
Here are a few tips:
Re-post content: The beauty of the Internet is that there are several people out there who are saying what you want to say. Use their words through re-tweets, shares, quotes, or memes to express or support a sentiment. Sharing a news article is one thing, but writing it is another. Â Giving your customers “news,” versus an “opinion,” places your business in a less confrontational light.
Share resources: There are events, donations websites, news outlets, viral videos and more, available for you to share with your readers to provide information. Â Guiding your client base to a place where they can learn how to help is another way of letting them know you are aware, and thatÂ you are a resource; without having to canvas for money, organize an event, or tell them what they should do.
Support black businesses: Write an article highlighting businesses who are making a difference in the community, or start supporting them publicly. Â Recently, I’ve started wearing t-shirts made by businesses owned by black women: Soulyfe,Â Â HabituallyFly, Tees In The Trap. I’ve also become a customer ofÂ Ajayi’s shop. I let my fashion and dollars speak for me; a combination which makes me feel comfortable and let’s my audience know where I stand, without interrupting our usual conversations with something they don’t expect, want or agree with.
Being an entrepreneur is a very tenuous business. Choosing this way of life means we must be creative about how we approach certain topics. We are disruptors of sorts. However, as change agents, we want to protect the institutions we are building to be that change. Outside-the-box thinking about politics and racial disruption isn’t easy, but we can still raise our voices without alienating our clientele.
Ella RuckerÂ (@ellalaverne) is in the business of mentoring entrepreneurs for their business’s success. Â She is the co-founder ofÂ Weekend Startup School and director of operations for #MentorMonday; Both are safe places for entrepreneurs to learn practical advice for their big dreams. She has made her living for the past three years as a freelancer working as a writer, editor and content producer with some of the most successful personalities, brands, and blogs. She has also written an eguide for Blogalicious entitledÂ Tick Tock Goes The Blog Clock: The What, Why and How Of Creating 365 Days Of Content TODAY.