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United Breaks Guitars – An Example of Consumers to Prosumers.

24 Jan

During the last four to five years we have seen massive changes in the use of the internet and it’s continuing potential to be used as agency for consumers/customers of various media/services to point out issues and problems and in many cases to force companies to act in a public forum, where they face fast spreading negative publicity. This can be through blogging campaigns, tweeting or uploading viral videos to the web.

One such example of this is the United Breaks Guitars video. The video is the best way to explain the story.

Once on a public forum and communicated in a dynamic visual way, the story gained fantastic momentum and currently the video has 9,860,232 viewers, all potential United Airlines passengers. This power of the prosumer gives big corporate companies new vulnerabilities, no longer can they hide behind a crackly version of Greensleeves. If they do they are in effect hiding from all their customers. Soon after the company released an official statement which you can read that here and get more info on the storynews website..

This is just one of several situtations that without the connecting power of the web, would never have been addressed or resolved.
One such story is featured in Clay Shirky’s book “Here Comes Everybody” and concerns a stolen mobile phone, that through the magic of networks and the new connections possible, set up of a hereo and villian narrative that enabled audiences to get on board and use their public agency to express outrage at the series of unfolding events. This resulted in massive public pressure for the return of the phone. So much so the phones status as missing was altered to stolen, so the culprit could be arrested. A simple campain for justice. A series of events brilliantly depicted in Shirky’s book, events that simply would never be possible without the internet.

Prosumers are certainly the future and you can be sure we have many more campaigns of this nature to look forward to. As this article concerning amercian writer/tweeter Heather Armstrong (Dooce), who got a free washing machine from a rival company because she complained on twitter about her one breaking shows you’d be silly not to broadcast your complaint to the world and use the growing agency of the prosumer and the power of connections. More info here about the washing machine story.

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