Social media has the many great benefits of allowing a person to reach out to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and to express who they are, their interests, and their business. But one’s personal interests, hobbies, or vacations really should not be tied to their business; let alone promoted on it. This was one of the harder lessons for Bob Parson, CEO of GoDaddy.com, to learn after he shot and killed an elephant in Africa and then boasted about it to his thirty three thousand Twitter followers. Not only that, but he also placed a video of his hunting expedition on his own personal webpage.
While negative controversy can sometimes bolster buyers or subscribers to a product or site, his little hunting excursion had the opposite effect as one of GoDaddy.com’s main subscribers, PETA, pulled its funding from GoDaddy.com’s main domain. PETA responded by asking if GoDaddy.com knew that some of its customer base includes people who might be disgusted by this? And further commented that the outing was incredibly egotistical, childish, and in very poor taste. PETA then proceeded to move its domain to Venovix with the help of Michelle Sciuto, marketing director and co-founder.
Venovix took actions a step further by offering subscribers who come over from GoDaddy.com a free account set up and an additional six months free of Web hosting. All the company asked in return was that customers donate to the International Elephant Foundation.
Parson did not seem at all personally affect by the controversy he stirred up. Instead he fought back by saying that he wanted the people of America to see what the Africans over there endure, and how elephants with problems are dealt with. He further commented that doing what he did was the best way he knew how to help those subsistence and starving farmers. Regardless of his reasoning, the backlash from Parson’s African Adventure has cost GoDaddy.com substantially as they have reported losses in revenue since the event demonstrating just how detrimental the wrong use of social media can be for a personal business.