Monthly Archives: June 2012

Break his neck and he might break yours



Good for watching funny homemade videos about other people’s dogs and cats and babies and private obsessions. Video trash. Oh, and music videos. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Dave Carroll.


Dave who?


Dave Carroll was a lesser known Canadian country and western singer – until he posted a video clip on Youtube that went insanely viral with more than 15 million views. Dave became a celebrity singer with a #1 hit on Apple’s iTunes store and a book which is available on Amazon.


The title of this video? 

“United breaks guitars.”


Let me explain.

Dave Carroll’s checked in his $3,500 Taylor guitar – nice guitar, I have one myself – on a United Airlines flight from Halifax to Omaha, Nebraska. The guitar did not survive the journey well. It arrived in Omaha with a broken neck. Dave put in a claim. After a year of haggling United came down with a definitive “no, we are not responsible.” Dave did what he knows best. He wrote a song about his experience, recorded a video and posted it to Youtube. This was picked up by the media and Dave made appearances on CNN and all the major networks. Dave became a celebrity and a hero and United became a villain.


A few weeks after the Youtube posting, United Airlines’ stock price had stalled in mid flight, taking a nose dive of 10% which represented a loss of $180 million to United Airlines‘ shareholders. According to my calculations, that would have been enough to have bought Dave more than 51,000 replacement guitars.


That’s the power of Youtube, the world’s largest on demand TV channel. On demand. That means that people watch what they WANT to watch which is very different to sitting through a commercial break on TV. Youtube is rubbish? Think again.


Businesses can no longer ignore social media.

Nor can they treat Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as an optional extra on the company’s media schedule. Nor can they afford not to be active participants on these platforms because it’s kids stuff. It’s not.


Think about it.

Twitter has more than 500 million registered users posting an average of 140 million tweets per day. If you don’t know what a tweet is, then join Twitter. It’s time you did.


With these kind of numbers, it’s likely that someone somewhere is tweeting about you. And you are faced with a simple choice. You listen with a chance to react. Or you don’t. And run the risk of some Dave Carroll writing a song about you and posting it on Youtube.


A CEO from a company I deal with recently relinquished the vast majority of his operating responsibilities by appointing a COO. Why? To dedicate his time to social media. Smart guy. Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of the Wine Library in New Jersey grew his business from $3 million annual sales to $45 million by using social media. Yes, nothing but social media.


The world has moved on. We’re in the conversation economy. Today’s consumer is highly empowered. Break his neck and he might break yours. Ask United Airlines.