Remember the old “Where’s the Beef?” campaign from Wendy’s? There is a new campaign circulating, only this time those asking the question are looking for the butter queen herself, Paula Deen. After revealing in a legal deposition that she had in the past used the “n-word”, Deen has found herself in the middle of an empire-wrecking storm.

Despite apologies and damage control efforts, Deen’s business partners, like The Food Network for example, have dropped their affiliation with her as someone would a political candidate who got caught saying homeless people should be exterminated. The fallout has been vast and far reaching for Deen and her business is reportedly in trouble. 

Deen not only took a beating in the news outlets and major network media, but she also took hits in Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. After a few weeks of onslaught, the social media tide turned slightly with the beginning of a new Facebook page, We Support Paula Deen. The page is supporting a new campaign, started by to encourage fans of Deen to send clean, empty butter wrappers to The Food Network executives as well as other large companies that dropped Deen. The question they should ask, “Where’s Paula?” The tagline is, “A company without Paula is like a wrapper without butter.”

No matter where you stand on the Paula Deen issue, there are lessons to be learned from the situation, especially when it comes to social media. First lesson: Your words will likely come back to haunt you and sadly, social media will make this an even higher possibility as life continues. That doesn’t mean that social media should be avoided altogether; it means that it should be approached with caution. Behave as a limited public figure on your social accounts and you may avoid some of Deen’s problems in the future.

The second lesson is simple. Don’t underestimate the power of the people. Social media platforms have given large groups with something to say a platform from which to speak and organize. Even if public opinion of a brand seems to be irreparable, the power of social media can bring new light to the subject and force social change.

As an HVAC distributor, don’t forget to be careful what you say and don’t forget to calculate the affect that social media can have on your business. Keep in mind, that not discount social media could be one of the most important things you can do.