I was reading an article on CNN today about political candidates losing control of their campaigns to YouTube.  It must really burn for old school politicians who are used to talking openly when the cameras weren’t rolling.  I can hear the voices in their heads now – ‘You mean I have to actually mean what I say all the time, and not just during an interview?’  Yep – that’s what it means.  It’s 2007, and the cameras are ALWAYS rolling!  There’s always someone with a camera phone or digital video camera just waiting to catch the right moment on video or in a photo.

So it is with brands also.  Many marketers think that they can ‘control the message’ by doing their own ‘viral campaigns’ on YouTube.  I’m talking about the clips that are created by the companies that they hope will spread throughout the internet.  This may work sometimes, but it’s by no means guaranteed!  I think the real opportunity is in becoming a real part of the culture so that consumers spread the word for you.  Yes, this means you have to actually be genuine with your offering and have an above average product or service.

It also means you need to have thick skin, because you never know when someone out there will disagree with your company’s position.  Herein lies the real opportunity!  If something negative gets posted about your brand or company, you have a chance to find out what some people are really thinking and do something about it if you so choose.  Does your offering need some work?  Maybe you’ll find out because of something that ends up on YouTube!  If you really want to ‘go there’, you can create a response video making fun of the one that talks about your company or brand.  Be cheeky!  Engage!  You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines, or get all defensive and whine about something that somebody said about you on the web.  That’s about as attractive as a 5th grader crying to his mommy because he got pushed on the playground.  Dust yourself off and get back on the jungle gym!  Everyone will respect you more for it.