Friday, July 17, 2009

Social Media Reaches New Heights

By now you probably have seen – or at least heard about – "United Breaks Guitars", the viral video posted on YouTube just over a week ago by a little-known country singer whose $3400 Taylor guitar had been broken beyond repair by the airline's baggage handlers.

What you probably didn't know is that the video has already garnered more than 3.2 million views and 14,000 comments. Not to mention free guitars from Taylor, an apology from United, and a response video from the song's creator.

What is it about the video that has struck such a note with the public? Perhaps it's our collective loathing of all things airline-related. But I sense there's more to it than that.

For one thing, the song, while expressing anger at the irresponsiveness of the airline, does it in an extremely gentle, very likable way. There's nothing mean-spirited about it. It's all done with tongue firmly planted in cheek. In fact, in his follow-up video, the singer, Dave Carroll, tells us that United has offered to make amends and he suggests that they make a contribution to a charity of their choice. He also tells the viewers who have been calling one of the United employees mentioned in the song to ease up on her, that she was only doing her job.

But he also promises that two more videos about the incident are still on their way.

I suggest that United beat him to it by putting out a video of its own. It should use humor to show some humility and admit that its employees are human. That everyone makes mistakes.

And it should do it with feeling.


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1 comment:

  1. So this incident raises the question, "how long before a negative reaction to a particular medicine becomes a national sensation?" Certainly youtube is chocked full of people ranting about their reactions to pharmaceutical products, but it hasn't caught on in popular culture. However, with all the babyboomers it sure will start to occupy more of our minds, our videos and our printed words.