Most companies are not prepared for the impact of social media.
CNN Money recently posted this article about Ann Milch, an irate BOA customer who concluded that the only way to get even with the ‘thieving, scheming bastards’ at the Bank of America was to post a scathing YouTube video letting the world know exactly how she felt. At 400,000 views and 6,000 comments, she has received a lot of people’s attention… including the bank’s. Bank of America has since retracted the 30% interest rate (is that legal?) it was charging her and has reinstated the previous 12.9% rate. Good for them.
Whether you agree with Ann and the vast majority of YouTube commenters that the Bank is evil or whether you feel, as some do, that Ann would not have experienced this problem if she had simply lived within her means you have to agree that the impact of a single angry customer can have a significant affect on your brand.
It’s tough to know what makes any video go viral. YouTube is filled with angry rants, this one just seems to have struck a resonant chord. A lot of people are hurting right now. Perhaps BOA is just the lightning rod de jour, attracting the current anger and frustration surrounding these difficult economic times.
These are still early days. If a single video can garner this much attention imagine what would happen if the angry hoards got together. Imagine if the conversation started to spiral out of control and you were not part of it. Imagine if the groups and people that are impacting your brand were all playing in a sandbox that you knew nothing about, and frankly had no credibility in. Imagine if the majority of negative word of mouth about your brand was visual and interactive and the only arrow in your quiver was a press release.
Time to engage.