Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kleenmaid's foray into YouTube

Kleenmaid Appliances, an Australia whitegoods retailer went into voluntary administration on April 9 with an estimated debt of $73 million.

To provide Kleenmaid customers with an update on what this meant, the directors, Bradley Young and Andrew Young, took the unusual step of broadcasting a message via YouTube.

View it here. I have linked rather than embedded it because embedding permissions have been turned off.

As well, comments and response videos have also been turned off. What this says to me is that Kleenmaid had the best intentions for using YouTube as an engaging medium in what must be quite a stressful time. But the stress may have been too much, by turning off all forms of two-way communication this has meant people have circumvented this non-communication by other means.

Here are the examples to be found on YouTube today:

Yes, YouTube is full of weird and wonderful people, but like any other new media/social media platform, an inherent part of its purpose is to facilitate two-way communication. As seen in this example, people will call you out when you "don't play by the rules". And yes, going into voluntary administration must be stressful enough without having to respond to all the people of the interwebs. But if you choose YouTube as a form of communication then you should obey the etiquette and its reason for being.

Take for example GE. GE is a global manufacturing and financial services organisation that no doubt angers many people for various reasons. However, though its communications arm it has bitten the bullet and agreed to allow customers, shareholders and the public to comment on everything from its products to its financial performance through its GE Reports website and YouTube channel.

The worst that can happen is that you get a bad comment which, if defamatory, you can moderate. The best that can happen is that you can control the debate via responding to comments and centralising the debate.

Savvy businesses are realising that YouTube and two-way communications platforms are providing a whole new level of engagement with their customers and shareholders. By using these platforms to craft and moderate the debate much of the fire that comes out at retail outlets or shareholder meetings can be abated.

And on a final note out of all the saga of Kleenmaid and its stuttering foray into YouTube, here is my pick for the winner. Amos, a Kleenmaid technician from Adelaide that has had the foresight to respond to one of the negative Kleenmaid spoofs. Well done!

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