There’s not many people in the western world who wouldn’t be familiar with the tragic fate of a famed lion named Cecil.  Cecil was shot with a cross-bow which severely wounded him.  The magnificent animal was then tracked for several hours before a single bullet fired from the rifle of one Walter Palmer ended his life.

Walter Palmer ‘was’ a dentist from Minnesota who had paid the hefty sum of $US50,000 for the opportunity to hunt, kill and bring back his ‘trophy’ from Zimbabwe.  Unfortunately for poor old Walter, this ‘trophy’ has cost a lot more than $US50,000 and has actually caused the closure of his business.

The thing is folks thanks to social media and search engines, your customers can now access information on what you do After Hours and if they don’t approve, then you’re in trouble.  Gone are the days when you can hang up your weekend hunting boots and slip into your dental gloves without anyone noticing.

If you are a business owner you need to be aware that you are the face of your business and because of this you need to be aware of the following:

  • The internet makes it easy for your customers to find out information about you and your business.
  • The consideration that your behaviour may not be seen as acceptable by your customers and target market.
  • Social media gives your customers an ability to share information at an unstoppable pace.
  • Social media allows for your customers to establish or become part of online communities who can take group action against you/your business.
  • The internet and social media never sleeps.
  • Social media can effectively shut your business down if someone doesn’t like you or the fact that you take joy in shooting animals.

It needs to be understood that customers have access to information like never before and this includes your hobbies on the weekend.  No matter how diligent you may be with the privacy settings of sharing your personal information and photos, it’s other people that have access to that information that can effect your image – and your business.

As a business owner, every single article you post, photo you share, opinion you write on social media, blog article you have posted and even emails you have sent, can be inadvertently shared and used against you.

When you are starting a business, running a business and marketing a business, it all comes down to whether your customers like and trust you as an individual. This means they respect you and your image.  Personal image has changed a lot in the past the decade due to search engines, social media and technology allowing the sharing and distribution of information on a scale never before seen.  Not only did Walter pick the wrong lion to kill that day, he also picked the wrong era to brag about it.

His dental practice has been closed since the image of him and his hunting buddy posing smugly next to the deceased king of the jungle was released to the media.  Walter has since gone into hiding and hired a PR firm to release statements to his clients and the media. He has been branded ‘The most hated man in the world’ along with several other titles which are unable to quote due to a language warning.

The lesson out of this from the perspective of a business owners is that rapid sharing of information is now available to the masses and it will make you accountable for your actions, even after your shop is closed.  So be prepared for the consequences!