United Airlines gets smacked by social media

True story. Dave Carroll, lead singer for the country group ‘Sons of Maxwell’ watched in horror as United Airwaves baggage handlers tossed around and eventually broke his $3,500 Taylor guitar (Read the full story on the bands website). After nine months of run-around and an almost comic disregard for the consequence of their actions, United was no closer to taking responsibility for the damage. In frustration Dave promised the airline he would write three (not just one…) songs about the incident. This one is the first. It has already received over 200,000 views online. The song is sort of catchy.

How could the airline be so inept? Does United Airlines care now? Didn’t they know not to mess with musicians? They might have to use a private jet card program instead now.

Video sharing, social networks and the ability to easily spread your message far and wide are all important factors causing (most) companies to reconsider how they deal with their customers. Up until very recently you had to commit a pretty heinous act against a customer for anyone to take notice. Now anyone with a computer, a video camera and a grievance can cause your company a considerable amount of pain.

Spending millions on generic positioning ads won’t amount to much if you choose to ignore your customers and if you choose to ignore social media.

3 Responses

  1. unbelievably, the number of views has passed 2.5 million. I did a post this morning. UA’s response was so limited (one might say non-existent). I took particular note of your observation: “Spending millions on generic positioning ads won’t amount to much if you choose to ignore your customers and if you choose to ignore social media.” Case in point; check out the numbers for UA’s YouTube Channel. The videos are mostly repurposed and the small numbers demonstrate how powerful Dave Carroll’s video was.

    Channel Views: 84,791
    Most viewed video: 86,415 views
    Most discussed video: 122 comments

    1. Dan, I imagine this video struck a ‘resonant chord’ with many people. It’s astounding and how disconnected some companies are with the effect of social media on their brand. The one great thing to come out of this is that the Sons of Maxwell have picked up a boat load of positive PR out of the experience. Good for them.

      We are still in the early days of social media and it’s impact on brands – like when you first notice the tide is inexplicably going out… just before the tsunami.

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