The frustrating part of writing a book like Twitterville is that great stories keep happening after the book gets locked up and before it gets to the bookshelf. I wrote an entire chapter about users taking control, talked about classics like Motrin Moms and Pepsi's offensive suicide ads, but perhaps my favorite was about David Alston, the Radian6 marketing executive who Tweeted that U-Haul had treated his wife rudely and discovered a global community of unhappy former U-Haul customers.
Today David sent me a link to the above YouTube clip, which had over 120,000 views in its first 36 hours. If you skipped it, it depicts Dave Carroll and the Sons of Maxwell, singing a clever ballad about how United Airlines freight handlers broke his guitar and took a year before refusing to make good.
In days of yore, Carroll and other customers who felt they were poorly treated had little or no recourse. But now, as HistoryBlitz, one of the 1200 commenters noted: "YouTube is the Consumer's Weapon." He or she is absolutely right, but it is not just YouTube. People are using Twitter, blogs, Facebook, Flickr and podcasts to fight back. [BTW, I could not find a single defender of UA among those 1200 comments.]
Suddenly companies that do not apologize for poor customer treatment and play odds that most customers have neither the wherewithal nor the patience to litigate will just fade away.
They're wrong of course. Companies that do not understand that individuals can use social media to raise concern, ire and awareness. Companies that continue to ignore this, I predict, are the ones that will fade away and sooner than they may think.