TUPELO – Anyone who knows Tim Tubb knows he has strongly held opinions and isn’t afraid to let others hear them.
Recently, he posted a comment on his personal Facebook page that went viral, garnering more than 2,500 reactions and nearly 145,000 shares.
Marketing and social media experts say steering clear of hot-button issues is advice that business owners adhere to, else suffer the consequences.
Richelle Anderson, the owner of Lighthouse Web Design and Marketing in Tupelo, said it’s almost impossible to separate your personal and business profiles today.
“As a business owner, you are the face of your business,” she said. “Many social networks allow us to have a personal space to express ourselves; however, in your position, the lines between personal and business are blurred.”
And Tubb jumped into the thick of controversy when he posted earlier this month, “Let’s flip the script and make adoption affordable and abortion ridiculously expensive.”
That’s when things “exploded,” Tubb said.
“I put stuff on Facebook all the time and that’s what I put,” he said. “I really didn’t expect anything much out of it, but what I did get was mostly good, positive responses. I got a lot of bad responses, too… I wasn’t trying to do away with abortion or even raise the price of abortion. I was simply saying let’s make adoptions more affordable.”
A devout Christian, Tubb is pro-life and doesn’t believe that abortions should be performed.
“People know where I stand; they know my politics and I’m not shy about it,” he said. “I think abortion is murder, but that’s another argument altogether. I was just trying to simply say let’s make it affordable for people to adopt.”
Some of the expected backlash came via comments on his personal page.
“I got all this traction, which was a bit bizarre,” he said. “I made the mistake of interacting with some of them, and I wasn’t delicate, but that’s me. Then they started to give me bad reviews on my business page.”
Said Anderson, “The rise of social media allows consumers to buy from a company or brand but also allows them to feel a connection with them. When we share on our personal space, you are essentially sharing the same opinions as your business.”
While not addressing Tubb specifically, Anderson recommends that in general, business owners should keep controversial subjects to a minimum on social media.
“The backlash has historically hurt businesses, and for a small business owner, they may never recover,” she said.
But Tubb says he’s received even more positive feedback, and friends and clients have come to his defense both on his personal and business Facebook pages. Tubb also responded.
“I’m not going to run from a fight from anybody ever,” he said.
Ty Robinson, president and chief operating officer of marketing and advertising agency Robinson and Associates, said as a rule of thumb, online reviews can be a double-edged sword for business owners, and responding to bad reviews usually isn’t a good idea.
“When receiving a bad review or a negative comment on Facebook or other social media, the best thing to do is to try to get in touch with the person posting,” Robinson said. “Get the conversation offline. It’s difficult, but remain neutral. Listen to what the person posting has to say before responding. If the person posting the comment can be calmed, they may also agree to remove the post once the issue is addressed.”
The negative reviews, however, came out-of-state from people who had never done business with Tubb or his insurance agency.
In retrospect, Tubb says he has few, if any, regrets.
“Maybe I would have been a little more diplomatic or delicate in some of my responses,” he said. “Still, I’m not going to have somebody spew stuff and not respond; I’m going to give as good as I get.”
Robinson, also not responding directly to Tubb’s unique situation, said in general, businesses shouldn’t delete comments if it has the ability.
“The public is watching how the business will handle the issue. If the person posting will remove or write a retraction, this is far better. A business deleting a comment without handling it is dangerous and gives the person posting more ammunition for their cause.
“The last thing a business with a social media account wants is a flame war. An issue needs to be turned into a non-issue.”
Tubb, however, has a different outlook.
“I don’t want to hurt my business; I want to give the best that I can give to my customers, but if it comes to having my business and standing up for what I believe, the girls and I will go live on the streets,” he said. “But at the same time, I think the Lord would take care of us if it came to that. All of this didn’t happen by accident.”
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