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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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As much as I like to hear about a young musician "sticking it to the man," I think there is also the risk for this type of viral communication to be abused. Imagine the potential for self-promotion, getting a product or service noticed, etc., just by charging that somebody treated you poorly (whether true or not). The lawyers must be rubbing their hands together...