Youtube as the Great Equalizer
Have you suffered injustice at the hands of a big corporation? Are you on your local dealer's "do not answer" list? Here are some examples:
- airline broke your $1000 equipment when baggage handlers literally threw the stuff around
- car has a problem that cannot be reproduced by the dealer... until AFTER the warranty had expired
- big appliance you got from your local retailer wasn't working out and retailer is ignoring your phone calls
The conventional wisdom when you can no longer get satisfaction through customer support, is to either find the CEO or president of the company and write him or her a letter directly, or get the local consumer reporter involved.
However, if you are dealing with a big national or international company, or at least their local authorized representative, you may be able to get satisfaction by making an Youtube Video instead, and make it go viral.
Here are 7 steps to make that happen.
1. Get Prepared
Get all the facts about your situation together. \
Create a timeline outlining all the contacts between you and the company, and make sure you have used most methods reasonable people would have used.
Have all the receipts and damage estimates and such things prepared, and basically get all the facts and documentation straight.
2. Get Help
You need to list your assets, like who has a camera (no, a webcam is not good enough), tripod, other video equipment, and you need to know which friend has expertise in music, song-writing, general writing, even directing and video editing.
Even those who has no expertise can operate equipment, be background actors in a "skit" around you as you sing or act, help you critique the script and song, and so on.
3. Write Snarky
Write a snarky poem, complete with rhyme and rhythm, that describes your situation, and how you've been mistreated.
If you are a songwriter or know one, write an original song. If not, pick an existing song that you can substitute the words. The idea is to "sing the blues", or a melancholy country-and-western song. Those are probably the easiest to rewrite.
If you can't write, find a friend who can, and share the credit.
If you can't sing, rap instead, or do a monologue / soliloquy, like "Lament my late car transmission" or "Ode to my Guitar killed by Baggage Handlers" (just some ideas!)
However, don't be TOO snarky or insulting. You want to appear as the victim who tried to be reasonable and bent over backwards, but was basically taken advantage of. You don't want to sound like you are out for blood.
4. Record it!
Now that you have a script (or sorts), it's time to perform. Flesh out the poem / song by actually performing it and recording it, karaoke style. If you can play your own instrument, even better. Record both video and audio.
Practice and rehearse a few times, listen to your own performance, rewrite it if needed. Refine the performance. Don't worry about your mistakes yet.
If you want to use costumes or props, make it related to your topic even if only peripherally. It makes the whole performance more memorable.
If you want friends to act a skit behind/around you, rehearse that as well, and tape the rehearsals.
A lot of things can be fixed up in the editing, so, again, don't fret over minor gaffes.
Make multiple takes, use multiple cameras from different angles.You can intercut later.
Use a tripod. You don't want "Blair Witch" style shakiness.
You will record 5-10 times the footage you need for the final video. Don't worry about space... yet. Record many times, and you can pick the best parts in the editing phase.
If you don't want to do all that, just do a webcam-style talk-into-the-camera appeal, but it's nowhere as catchy as a music video.
5. Edit it!
With popularity of iMovie and Windows Movie Maker and other video editors like Adobe Premiere Elements, Sony Vegas, and so you can edit your own video, but the best way is probably to ask around if any friends in film school or such have access to a REAL video editing system like AVID and do the editing there.
You can merge different scenes from different takes into one final product. You can even throw in other bits of stock video, background info, even retake certain parts, and more.
You can just do a webcam style appeal, but it'd look somewhat silly and amateurish. The idea is to make it look semi-professional, but not too much so.
Keep it short, even SHORTER than a regular song. A full song is 4-5 minutes, so you may want to do it in 2-3 minutes. You're not making a movie, just a short catchy video.
6. Share it!
Once the video is finished, upload it to Youtube and put in a good description. Make sure you give it some good tags.
Then post the video link in a few consumer complaint websites in the appropriate sections (NEVER SPAM! NEVER!)
Spread the video via other social media, such as Facebook and/or Twitter, but again, never spam. Find the appropriate groups and only post on relevant places.
You can achieve somewhat lesser effect on Twitter by using creating a snarky name, like ____hatesme, or boycott_____ (where _____ is the company name) and start following people that may have something to do with that company, and start posting sordid details of your encounter and how you become disgruntled.
Or even better, use mutliple social media together. Create a Youtube video AND put in your the related Twitter account. Tweet a short URL of your Youtube video. Cross-promote.
7. Repeat as needed
Rome is not built in a day, and it may take several days before your video go viral.
If your video never did go viral, make a part 2, and a part 3... Sooner or later, if the video's "good enough", and the message funny enough, (I know, a lot of ifs) people will notice it, and spread it for you.
Then just wait for a call from the company or their national HQ offering to make it right.
Why Does This Work?
In general, the bad publicity generated by such video appeal gone viral is costing the target far more than to compensate you for the injustice. It is essentially public shaming, and Youtube and other social media makes it very easy for any one to publicly shame a big corporation.
However, it is assumed that you are dealing with a real corporation big enough to be monitoring public sentiment, and actually care about their reputation in the real world, and have competitors. It won't work on a small company in your local town with two employees.
And it does work. Just ask Dave Carroll
Dave Carroll got very disgruntled when United Airlines broke his $3500 Taylor guitar and refused to accept responsibility... AFTER running him around for months. So he made multiple songs lambasting United Airlines, and got MILLIONS of hits. Taylor, who made the guitar, later gave Carroll TWO brand new guitars.
Other Social Media and Conclusion
While Youtube isn't the only way to address a complaint, it is probably the easiest to go viral.
Even if you don't get a refund check you'll at least get the satisfaction of getting that off your chest.
And you may yet become an Internet meme and get your 15 seconds of Internet fame.
More Youtube Consumer Action
- Top 5 Viral Customer Service Complaint Videos | MintLife Blog | Personal Finance News & Advice
Viral Internet videos can bring a company to its knees sometimes literally begging for a second chance to fix a problem. Ordinary complaint letters don't have that effect.