Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Viral Video Strikes a Chord

By Danielle Salvato
Although many may want it, you can’t force something to become popular. When an issue or campaign goes viral, it is organic, naturally making its way around the world, gaining popularity through word of mouth, the click of a button, blogs, Tweets and re-Tweets and Facebook.

A perfect example of how one viral video made its way to millions of people started with a man and his guitar.

To sum it up quickly, Sons of Maxwell, a Canadian country band, flew on United Airlines in the spring of 2008, traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour. Dave Carroll, the lead singer of the band, witnessed his guitar being thrown around and mishandled by United baggage handlers in the Chicago O’Hare airport. The guitar was severely damaged in the hands of United. After several attempts, Carroll received no compensation from the airline, not one dime. In response, Carroll created a YouTube video on July 6, 2009, titled “United Breaks Guitars.” Carroll has his own blog that details the whole story.

“United Breaks Guitars” has struck a chord with people. Within 10 days of the video’s release, it had received 3,234,157 views. The news has also appeared on national news broadcasts, morning shows and newspapers, including NBC’s Today Show, CNN, NPR and the San Francisco Chronicle. It has also hit Mashable, in addition to top IT trade publications, such as Computerworld, making its way around to various audiences and industries. And not to mention the world of Twitter is eating this up.

The video has also gained the attention of United and representatives have reached out to Carroll, although the results of those conversations have not been released publicly. The key takeaway is that through one United traveler’s creativity, wit and compelling social media content, the world backed him up virally and United has finally listened and will likely continue to feel the effects from this social media backlash for some time.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Blogger’s Watchmen

By Dave Struzzi
If you’ve got a blog, the FTC may soon be your biggest fan. That’s because if passed, recently proposed guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission would give the agency unprecedented power to patrol what you write in it.

Of course, these new powers aren’t meant to patrol your daily blog about your newest kitten. Rather, they’re intended to curtail the abuse of “payola” bloggers—those that accept cash and gifts in exchange for writing positively about a company, without disclosing it.

As print media finds itself battling decreasing circulation numbers and online outlets being outpaced by the 24/7 nature of blogs, these blogs have become the go-to destination for millions of people searching for honest advice on their favorite products. But should these blogs be forced to disclose all the freebies they receive? And if so, will people still accept a blog’s advice knowing this?

I believe the changing landscape of online journalism has led to a more mature blog, one that wields more power than ever before. And those that lack full disclosure could potentially alienate their legions of followers. A blog that admits to receiving a product freebie wouldn’t see an effect on readership, but I believe it would receive an increase in reader loyalty. It would also eliminate the many “This blog is in the pocket of Company X” comments that are so rampant.

Blogs have transformed greatly over the past few years. They’ve gone from being younger distant relative to print journalism, to its likely successor. In this way, I believe it must inherit the quality of full disclosure and upfront honesty that enabled print journalism to stay so dominant in the first place.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Old Brands, New Tricks: Using Social Networking to Reach ‘Always On’ Generation

By Julie Tangen
Coleman, a well-known retailer of outdoor equipment, was pretty smart to come up with its ‘Original Social Networking’ campaign. This is a great example of a traditional brand leveraging new trends to make itself relevant in a digital age. You’ve probably seen the commercials— folks gathered around a campfire while the narrative talks of the good old days, reminding us that Coleman has been bringing people together long before Facebook and Twitter were invented.

What’s most interesting to me is that Coleman is promoting itself through Facebook and partnering with Apple to integrate the tradition of outdoor activity with today’s technology. By bringing the two together, customers can enjoy the best of both worlds.

At first the idea of this 109 year-old company joining the Web 2.0 movement is a bit like stumbling across your Grandfather on Facebook. But if you check out their profile you’ll see they have some really fun apps available for free download. (My favorite is the one that turns an iPhone into a hand-held light.) Its interesting to see Coleman making the correlation between old and new ways of socializing and actually taking steps to reach a new generation of consumers. I love that after a century of doing business, Coleman still remains true to its mission of creating stronger bonds with family and friends—no matter whether these bonds are created around the campfire or over an Internet connection.
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