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We discussed a few months ago the issue of auctioneers not advertising their auctions in certain places because they disagree with that media’s political views. We noted this mind-numbing strategy, and now we’re hearing this same argument again, this time about Facebook: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/11/30/auctioneers-not-advertising-certain-places/.

For those unfamiliar with the auction industry, the vast majority of auctioneers are politically conservative and likely Republicans. Facebook is generally far more progressive and with policies typically aligning with the Democratic party. Those prior writings are here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/are-all-auctioneers-still-republican/ and here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/are-all-auctioneers-republican/.

As we noted in that aforementioned writing:

I find this fascinating. You as an auctioneer won’t advertise my farm equipment auction on a certain platform because of their political views, features, or restrictions even if the cost is outweighed by the benefit? Maybe a better question here is: “Who’s this marketing all about? You the auctioneer or me the seller?”

My recommendation for all auctioneers is to be thoughtful and careful concerning your own political views so that you don’t find yourself with a [rightly] dissatisfied seller who feels you didn’t advertise his or her auction properly. A seller’s attorney noting proceeds far less than adequate will first look at how your auction was advertised …

The basic relationship an auctioneer takes on with a seller involves obedience, loyalty, disclosure, confidentiality, accounting, and reasonable care. We have written about that before: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/what-do-auctioneers-owe-their-clients/ and even written about this “sale price” issue here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/sued-because-of-auction-sale-price/.

I would argue that if you’re not advertising on Facebook — in cases where it would be beneficial for your client — that you as an auctioneer are not (at minimum) being loyal nor taking reasonable care of your client. “But I don’t like Facebook anymore …” isn’t reasonable care if Facebook advertising is warranted.

Maybe another question should be, “Are you advertising your client’s auction properly otherwise?” We’ve suggested some auctioneers may not be — for any number of reasons: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/10/05/youre-not-marketing-your-auction/. Facebook marketing for any assets of material value is currently prudent.

Will Facebook marketing always be prudent? For small value items, it may not be necessary today. In the future, other media will likely become more important, and Facebook marketing (and its members) may become less important. We once ran $1,000 ads in major newspapers … but no more.

Maybe it’s a matter of [better] separating your personal and business views? Yes, that’s it. Your personal views and business views don’t have to match up. They can, but it’s not required, and in fact, ill-advised when your business views don’t align with helping your client because of your personal views.

While you vote Republican and support your candidate vigorously, you can advertise your client’s property on a progressive liberal-leaning platform because it makes sense for your seller. Or, you can vote Democratic and support your candidate vigorously, and advertise your client’s property on a conservative-leaning platform because it makes sense for your seller.

Notice in each case I cited above, it’s what makes sense for your seller, not you. Your business as an auctioneer is to maximize your seller’s position, and if you do that, you earn a commensurate fee or commission. It’s not about you making political statements at the expense of your seller — because that’s not being loyal nor taking reasonable care of that principal.

Does Facebook marketing benefit your seller? If you are an auctioneer selling materially valuable items here in 2021, it likely does … regardless of your political leanings.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.