We live in a debatably wonderful time where we can do our day to day activities through technology. We can communicate, learn, play, or partake in entertainment through the internet.
However, some people strongly argue that there are things we should do outside the internet. And they are not entirely wrong. Yes, the internet has opened possibilities not thought of merely 2 or 3 decades ago. But in some ways, it has also limited us. This begs the question, where do we draw the line between doing things in and out of the internet?
Business Through the Internet
One of the most critical aspects of our lives is how we conduct business. The internet has unlocked possibilities that made doing business more natural and more accessible for all. Monitoring sales, creating and managing ad campaigns, building brand authority, and loyalty, and many marketing branches have never been more natural, especially on social media.
The ease with which business can operate on social media inspired many companies, small or otherwise, to use social media extensively. One part of business is business advocacy. Should something as consequential, as sensitive and as impactful as business advocacy be done on social media?
Before we tackle that critical question, we must first understand what business advocacy means.
What is Business Advocacy?
In broad terms, business advocacy is the method of speaking up in defense of businesses against government regulations and policies that restrict the growth of companies.
From its definition, we can deduce that business advocacy is a vocal struggle against government regulations on businesses. The goal of business advocacy is to get the government to hear what the people have to say against these regulations and ultimately lift them.
There are indeed government regulations that restrict the growth and development of businesses. One controversial example of the business-government conflict is taxation on businesses.
On the one hand, governments need businesses to pay taxes so that the government can better keep the region running or even progressing. But on the other hand, many companies feel that some of these tax laws are unreasonable, unjustifiable, unfair, and rob them of their profits. Some businesses think that some tax laws are very, well, taxing. Both sides have their fair points.
We will not dive into which side is more right. That is not our goal. The goal is to settle whether business advocacy, the act of speaking against business restricting government regulations, should take place on social media.
Should business advocacy happen on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Are social media platforms the appropriate grounds to settle controversies and conflicts, of which taxation is just one example, between businesses and their respective governments?
The Purpose of Social Media
In determining the right stance on this subject, we must consider the purpose of social media.
Social media platforms are made mainly for human interaction and mingling. They enable people to socialize virtually. Because of their social nature, you may hear people here and there point out that politics or government issues should not spill over into social media. But that spilling over cannot be helped. Politics, in general, is part of our lives. Politics will inevitably creep into our social lives.
Does this mean that business advocacy should happen on social media?
How Effective Business Advocacy is on Social Media
The answer to whether business advocacy should take place on social media is neither yes nor no.
The real question should be: “How effective will business advocacy be if conducted on social media?” Let's look at facts to help us answer this question.
- Public opinion matters.
Yes, it is vital to get the opinion of the public in these matters. And yes, one of the most convenient methods of obtaining public opinion is through social media. People like voicing their opinions on social media. You can log in to Twitter right now and you will be bombarded with opinions left and right, and up and down. Opinions are all over the place on most social media platforms.
Having the public's opinion is a great way to get the government to hear your woes as business owners or managers. Thus far, social media seems to be an effective platform to conduct a business advocacy campaign.
- Most opinions on social media lack substance.
There is a challenge in getting the social media public to express their opinions on businesses' specific government regulations. Many views on social media lack substance. They get supported by nothing but “This is how I feel about 1, 2 and 3 because I heard this totally unproven ‘fact' from sources A, B, and C.”
Not all of the opinions on social media have no credibility whatsoever; not many do. But so many of them are not based on proven facts. Launching a business advocacy campaign on social media can be quite ineffective because some people voice their opinions on matters where they know nothing. See this YouTube video; it drives this point home.
- Not everyone bothers with facts or proven data.
Another angle of people not basing their opinions on facts and data is that they don't accept facts and data. Some people just stick to their views, no matter what. People with this mindset will prove hard for you to convince.
What to Do
Simply put, business advocacy can be useful on social media to some extent. But there are hindrances to it. For business advocacy to become effective on social media, the public should first be aware of what's happening.
To effectively rally people on social media to speak up against government regulations that restrict the growth of businesses, they should receive education on the issue.
There are steps you can take to launch a considerably successful business advocacy program on social media.
- Educate your audience.
Let's face it; not everyone has a working understanding of business management or law. Not all of us are business-minded or lawyers, even to just some extent. Take special care to let your loyal customers know how specific government policies prevent you from providing them with valuable services.
- Partner up with similarly affected business owners or managers.
Look for other business owners or managers that are afflicted by the same regulations as you are. Your goal for initiating a business advocacy campaign is to be heard by the government. The more people the government is listening to, the more likely its regulations will change.
- Act professionally.
Although business advocacies may, in essence, be confrontational in nature, try not to initiate a virtual war against the government officials. The government deals with facts, and the truth is, their regulations harm businesses and their customers—state that fact. Let your loyal customers state that fact. Let other companies and their customers state that fact. The government will need to acknowledge that fact.
Resorting to engaging in Twitter or Facebook battles will more likely undermine your credibility. If you hope to make a real difference starting on social media, act professionally in the presence of actual government officials. They have the power to lift restrictions on your business.
Business advocacy is a professional matter. You are a professional business owner or manager. Act accordingly.
The Bottom Line
Yes, business advocacy on social media can only be useful to some extent. But that does not mean that it can't work for you. You can make that effect work as powerfully as it can get if you plan it carefully and approach it right.
However, before you conduct business advocacies all over the place, make sure that the specific government regulation you want to speak up against legitimately restricts your business. Make sure to see the matter as objectively as possible before initiating an all-out war all over social media. Try to understand the government's side, which should only have the interest of the people at its heart.
Having the backing of the public is a powerful asset. If you are not sending the right message, it can backfire and do more hurt in the end.
Have a clear goal in mind. Do you want the restriction to be totally lifted or just eased? Perhaps there is some merit to the regulation the government has imposed. Unless the law is unjustifiable, try to work some sort of compromise in which both sides can mutually benefit. After all, business advocacy should not just be about your benefit or the benefit of other business owners and managers. Business advocacies should be for the benefit of the people that businesses and the government alike should be serving.
Get Involved With Business Advocacy
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