Are your LinkedIn Comments Bad For Business?

Sometimes you’re better off keeping your opinions to yourself.

A quick preface: Many posts on LinkedIn are primarily used to draw attention and generate activity, or simply keep followers updated on recent business events and job offerings. Some posts are “click baiting” or exploitative, and provide very little value to the LinkedIn community. Likewise, the same can be said for comments and replies.

In a knee-jerk reaction I will find myself typing out a comment to some LinkedIn post I don’t agree with. I then delete the comment prior to posting it. Why? After realizing that it wasn’t so much a matter of disagreeing as much as that, I really didn’t like what the person posted.

There is a very important difference between disagreeing with and not liking something. When you disagree, you still leave the door open to healthy debate or conversation. I do not agree with some statements made about global warming, aka climate change, but I am open to debate or casual conversation on the topic. However, if I do not like something, then it is not open for debate. I do not like Brussels sprouts; more specifically the taste. And, I have tried them prepared in various ways. So the “you don’t know until you try it” has been followed, and it is no longer up for debate. (Before writing this I was unaware that Brussels sprouts had an “s” on the end, and that the word is capitalized due to its relation to Brussels, Belgium.)

How can your comments and replies be bad for business? Because, only your customers’ or potential customers’ opinions matter. When you post a comment, you are: relaying, updating, supporting, or disputing a fact, or giving your opinion to what the LinkedIn member was sharing. Potentially many LinkedIn users will see your comment and base their opinion of you, and your business, on what you write. Some of these users might be current clients, potential customers, or business associates. If you’re not open to a healthy, non-confrontational debate on your comment, then you could lose business and hinder B2B relationships. Some innocuous comments are less likely to have any negative repercussions.

If you’re a vegan and you see a post about McDonalds, it might be better not to comment about corporate greed, obesity, and the evil fast-food empire. Some users might peg you as a conspiracist; others might see you as a radical vegan. Hey, you might be either or both. But if you are going to make a stand, then you must be willing to potentially burn some bridges.

There is the possibility that you want to make it clear to the LinkedIn community, as often as possible, about who you are and what ideals you stand for. This is fine if you only want to do business with those that share the same ideals. You can tailor your comments to be selective and only appeal to those users who agree with you. If you happen to be a tofu vendor, and only want to do business with vegans, then keep commenting “meat is murder”.

Alternatively, if you’re open to doing business with non-vegans, then you might want to reconsider your comments. A food market owner, who also sells meat and dairy products, might be looking for a tofu vendor. However, if they see your comments about bacon, they might decide not to do business with you.

Another thing to keep in mind are those knee-jerk replies to those ridiculous, ignorant, and sometimes infuriating comments. They can easily paint an unsavory picture of you to the rest of the community. If your reply is confrontational, or taken in the wrong context, then you could be labeled as someone you’re really not.

Users will comment on posts not being appropriate for LinkedIn. True, some posts are from people who treat LinkedIn the same as Facebook. Most posts and images, even those pet or family pics and inspirational religious quotes, are by those described in the first paragraph; users looking to generate activity. What better way to get a reaction out of someone, than by posting political views. Your comments about inappropriateness are exactly what they want. When you reply, “why doesn’t LinkedIn block this content?” to someone else’s comment, on how bad LinkedIn is becoming, then you just added more fuel to the click-baiting campaign.

On the flip-side, you can generate activity for your business when commenting or replying to posts you know others think should not be on LinkedIn. Isn’t this what social media platforms are all about; reaching the most people possible?

Final thought: Your activity on LinkedIn should be aligned with your overall business strategy, whether an owner or an employee. Any knee-jerk reactions should be vetted by strategic reasoning. With this approach you can ensure your current customers don’t leave. And, you can potentially create new business through positive engagement.