Most people have probably heard of the recent online phenomena surrounding Ted Williams. He was a homeless individual whom someone decided had a great voice. They made a short video and posted it to YouTube. From there, it went viral, and suddenly Ted Williams became one of the most popular men in the US – at least, for a short period of time.
Ted was flown around the country, interviewed by the best, including Dr Phil. He even had large sums of money thrown at him to do advertising voice overs. A true rags to riches story. Unfortunately, he was detained by police days later for being drunk and disturbing the peace. The problem was, much of his story centered on him being a reformed alcoholic. Now, he is yesterday’s news and no one want to know him.
It’s not our role to comment on the rights or wrongs of what happened to Ted Williams. Rather, it provides a very telling lesson on the difficulties of online reputation management. Consider how your business would have fared if a similar situation arose.
Rather than Ted Williams’ voice being the draw card, it was a video of your product in action. Everyone loves the video, the product looks great, and suddenly sales are booming. You have achieved every marketer’s dream, a viral marketing campaign.
But what happens if, a week or two later, someone posts a comment about how your product started a fire, or some similar catastrophic situation. Your reputation will suddenly go down hill, fast. Your video will sit unwanted, and your sales will drop altogether. Ted Williams, despite everything that has happened, still has that perfect on-air voice. Your product may be totally harmless, the fire or event being caused by misuse rather than poor quality.
The final result is still the same – like Ted Williams, the Internet skyrocketed your product to the starry heights – just as quickly, the Internet brought your product, and your business, back down to earth with a grinding thud. Online reputation management can be tough, especially in situations that involve viral campaigns.