Yes, you read it right. I am sharing a post from Sarah Palin’s Facebook Page.
Before I go on, let me say this:
- This case study is NOT about politics.
- It is not an attack on the ex-Alaska governor’s character either.
Too many personal brands use social media as a megaphone rather than a medium to build two-way conversations. So, I wanted to address this issue today.
You are free to disagree with my conclusions, of course. However, be aware that I will delete comments that are political and derogatory in nature.
In the above post, Palin explains how her son has taught her an important lesson: In life, you can turn any roadblock into a stepping stone — literally.
The family dog seems totally unruffled by the 7 year-old kid stepping on him to reach the sink. The same cannot be said of Facebook users, though. At the time of writing this article, the post has gathered more than 74,000 likes and 27,000 comments, many of them accusing Mrs. Palin of animal abuse.
(My thoughts: The photos are inappropriate because they show a potentially dangerous situation for the kid and the dog. The former could have fallen and hurt himself. And, as well behaved as a dog may be, it will bite if it is hurting, scared, or feels threatened. I should know. I have two dogs at home.)
Enter People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a.k.a. PETA. The organization notorious for pushing the envelope to raise awareness of animal abuse published a scathing response. Here is an extract:
“PETA, along with everyone else, is used to the hard-hearted, seeming obliviousness of this bizarrely callous woman, who actually thought it appropriate to be filmed while turkeys were being slaughtered right behind her in full view of the camera.”
It didn’t take long for Palin to counterattack with a long rant.
She even took to NBC News to expand on it.
PETA responded in kind:
I have seen many public altercations, but none feels as ridiculous as this one. One word kept popping up in my mind: kindergarten.
Whether Palin and PETA are right or wrong is irrelevant here. Both failed for several reasons:
- They turned a situation that could have died down quietly into a messy brawl.
- They involved third parties to get more attention.
- They refused to back down.
- They totally overlooked comments from social media users.
- Finally, they took their respective audiences hostage.
The Palin vs. PETA fight is a classic example of how inappropriate use of social media can create a very negative storm in a teacup.
The lesson for personal brands? It’s great to stand up for something you believe in. However, the moment the standing-up becomes synonymous with loss of control, lack of empathy, and disrespect of opinions, you do not just alienate others. You also become remembered for the wrong reasons.
You never know who is watching.
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” – Benjamin Franklin