There's a lot of controversy going on in the world these days, and social media makes it easier than ever to spur that controversy. The internet has also brought serious problems to light more than ever before, which can help prompt those in power to fix the problems. If an issue is important to you, you're going to want to talk about it, but how do you make your case without alienating potential fans who disagree with you? Should you avoid controversial discussions altogether? Or should you make a statement for what you believe in regardless of who or what you might lose?
Luckily, you don’t have to pick either extreme. Opinions spark conversation. Sharing your opinion will get people fired up, and whether they're in agreement or opposition, they'll engage with you. This is good, both for getting your fan base engaged and for advancing towards social and political change. The trick is to frame your opinion in a respectful way that will encourage intelligent conversation rather than brash attacks on each other. You've seen the backlash celebrities take. People have signed petitions to get actors fired because of the way they phrased a statement. Stars have had to shut down their Twitter accounts because of cruel messages and threats. In the same way that employers could turn you down for a job because of something you posted, bookers or managers could turn you down and fans could turn away if they feel offended by something you’ve shared.
Many celebs have come out in support of one candidate or another in the 2016 presidential election, and the ways in which they've showed their support has had a major effect on their images as artists.
I actually can't even stand to look through Twitter for any more examples because of all the douchey tweets about the election right now. But, some things to ask yourself when you want to share your opinion:
Who is my audience, and will they understand?
Knowing your audience is Marketing 101. Do your fans tend to be young adults age 18-30? Then maybe don't share that article about how millennials are entitled, even if you believe it. You could, however, share something that compares the generations and say, "Do you agree?" Just beware that you're going to get some responses that aren't on your side, and you have to be willing to deal with that. Also consider whether your fans are the type of people who will have a healthy, positive conversation about the issue, and there’s no shame in admitting they’re not. Some people just aren't looking for political discussion in their music. When they are, debate is great, but don't fight with your own fans or create a situation for them to fight with each other.
What will this say about me?
Is what you're about to say something that connects with your image as an artist? Maybe you already present yourself as a community activist, so supporting a movement that helps people in your community makes perfect sense. If you're a pop singer and rarely talk about politics, posting a strong political opinion will change some people's opinions of you. Maybe that doesn't matter because you feel so strongly on the topic, but it's important to understand the possible consequences.
If I was on the other side, would I get offended by this post?
If you want other people to see your perspective, it's only fair to first consider theirs. Are you saying something that insults the other side of the argument? Calling names or saying someone is lesser if they disagree with you? Don't do that. Write in a way that you would want to read a respectful discussion started by someone you disagree with. If you’re not sure how you’ll sound to an outsider, ask a friend or manager (or marketing consultant!) to read your post before you share it.
Is this an important issue to me?
Regardless of anything else I've said here, if an issue is deeply important to you and you want to talk about it, you should talk about it. Artists have a unique platform to educate and influence the public, so please, do use it, but use it wisely. Is it really crucial that you share your thoughts on the latest celeb feud or how Kim Kardashian's butt looked at the Teen Choice Awards? Maybe not. We all have to pick our battles wisely.
All this being said, there are some great and terrible things going on in the world today, and I highly encourage everyone to read multiple opinions, form your own, and talk about what's on your mind. Maybe for some topics, your personal page or an in-person conversation with a friend would be a better outlet. For others, maybe the right thing to do is to use your social media following to bring a controversial issue to light. I'm all about having conversations with your fans. Just be sure you're willing to defend your position and engage in a respectful discussion.
And now, go forth and do what you think is right to make the world a better place.