The Power of YouTube: A Musical Case Study

In 2008, Dave Carroll checked his Taylor Guitar on a United flight to Nebraska.  The guitar was seriously damaged in transit.  After a year of “conversations” with United staff, the airline still refused to accept responsibility for the damages.  In his final e-mail exchange with United he promised to write three songs about the experience and post them to YouTube in hopes of generating 1 million total views.

United was not impressed–then the first song was released*.

The song was catchy, the video was funny and, most importantly, the message struck a cord with everyone who saw it.  The video made international news, and now, less than a year later, has been viewed by over 8 million people.

So what does this mean for Nonprofits?

Serious problems can be addressed in lighthearted ways.

Lots of people yell and scream about the way airlines treat people.  The reaction is understandable, and yet, it doesn’t resolve much.  Dave Carroll wrote three silly (but awesome) songs about the problem, posted them on YouTube and now, in addition to his musical career, speaks to audiences world-wide about customer service in the age of social media and has a new website dedicated to helping other wronged customers get their grievances resolved.

The lesson?  Even when it’s justified, righteous indignation doesn’t get you very far.  Get the mad out of your system; then tell your story in a way people can hear you.

We can see you

Customer and/or client service no longer happens in private.  There may have been a time when you could get away with saying one thing in public and doing another in private, but those days are gone.  Even if your organization never upsets a musician, one never knows what will go viral on YouTube.

This doesn’t have to be bad news.  It means the amazing things your organization does will also be easy to share.  Zappo’s built a business model around it.

Your turn

  • How are you using YouTube to connect with your right people?
  • Have you seen a YouTube video that turned you into a fan of another organization?

Share your links in the comments!

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*I know this video is almost a year old, and if you keep up with internet phenomenons that makes it seriously old news.  I’m telling the story now because 1) the 3rd video just came out so the story is complete 2) I really like the story and the video and want the people who missed it the first time to get a second chance.