Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday report ~ February 27, 2015

When opinions matter.. and when they don’t  - Facebook may be the greatest social experiment of all time. The repercussions of all of the information we are sharing on a daily basis, will either be viewed by historians as our crowning achievement, or a colossal waste of time and resources.

I, for one, see it as a mixed blessing. The ability to reach those far away and share important info with large groups of "friends" is a wonderful thing. Having the ability in business to use social media to communicate our activities and generate enthusiasm is also of great benefit.

Where does it fall short? Personally, I think, not only does it make us believe that the smallest things are much more important than they are, but it also begins to lower our natural inhibitions when it comes to sharing. Quite honestly, there are some things I simply don't need to know. We currently see much too much of that on Facebook.

In the world of social media, you can delete or block comments that you do not agree with, you can choose not to have consistent political rants inflicted upon you. But what happens when it's not on a computer? What happens when that lack of inhibition translates into the real world?

For example, let's say you walk into a store, and the owner, or staff, begins to discuss what a horrible or wonderful job our Governor/President is doing. This is the beginning of the end. If a store is sharing its political or social beliefs, it will instantly alienate a percentage of its clientele. As the owner, you may not even be aware your staff is having these conversations with customers. You need to be.

If a store owner chooses to operate and promote a political/social/religious stance because they feel strongly about the issue and feel it's their duty, more power to them. As long as they understand, it could hurt the bottom line. 99% of the customers in this world shop to escape or to accomplish a specific goal. Not to hear opinions on the economy or politics.

I knew a store owner, who had a very unique shop, and could have been in high demand. She never failed, however, to share with the customers just how hard it is under the current administration, to run a small business. I recall hearing, "I have to keep my prices high just to pay all the ridiculous taxes." I watched her business dwindle for years and now it is on the verge of closing.

This kind of segregationist stance also makes it hard for others to work with you to create and move projects forward that will better the community. If too many stores in a region are operating in this manner, it is a strong possibility that the region will slowly fade away.

My advice to you is this; Talk to your employees, make sure they are not discussing personal beliefs with the customers. Make sure they are smiling, saying "good morning" and "how can I help you?" Finally, have them leave the personal stuff on Facebook.