Judith Lee: Social Media, The King of Beasts


Wow! We have Walter Palmer, DDS to thank for a lesson in the power of social media.

Dr. Palmer is the Minnesota dentist who admitted in late July that he and his Zimbabwe guides were the ones who killed Cecil the lion, a well-known, studied and often photographed lion in Hwange National Park.

Point # 1: I doubt this is the first time a wealthy big-game “hunter” has senselessly slaughtered a magnificent African animal? This story would have been picked up by the international media if it were not for the story going viral on social media.

Although Dr. Palmer has apologized and asserted that he thought his actions were legal, throngs of social media users are out for some blood of their own:

  • Palmer’s Facebook page was shut down
  • Multiple “shame Dr. Palmer” Facebook pages popped up
  • People from all over the world targeted his Yelp pages, posting more than 2,000 negative reviews in one day

Point #2: Even the most sterling online reputation can be destroyed in a matter of hours.

Let me say right here that I am not a fan of Dr. Palmer’s hobby. But I cannot help but wonder how one would go about repairing his online reputation.

Point # 3: I don’t think you can repair damage to this extent.

So what is the social media moral of Dr. Palmer’s sad story for anyone who has an online reputation (i.e., everyone) and understands its value?

  1. Think long and hard about what you do in every aspect of your life. What could go wrong, and what could be the very worst repercussions?
  2. In this age of social media and a video camera on every smartphone, there is no such thing as “privacy.”
  3. You ARE your brand. Anything and everything you do reflects on your business and its reputation.
  4. Good rule of thumb: Don’t do anything that you would be embarrassed for your clients or employees to know.
  5. Best rule of thumb: Don’t do anything that you would be embarrassed for your mother to know.

It’s true that we all make mistakes, and with a sufficient amount of forthright contrition and/or restitution, many mistakes will be forgiven.

However, there is a line that, if crossed, will be magnified by social media into the deepest, darkest chasm from which there is no return.


4.6.2015 Judith LeeJudith Lee is a marketing and communications professional who focuses on social media and email marketing based in Atglen. She is a SCORE Volunteer and the Chair-Elect of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce. Her posts on marketing and social media are a regular Monday morning feature on VISTA Today. She can be reached at 610-368-2058 or via email at judithlee@epix.net. Photos courtesy of Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry.



Top photo credit: Lion dude, Krugersdorp game reserve via photopin (license)

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