Yesterday saw destruction unlike any kind we've seen in Michigan for quite some time. A tornado ran through the better part of SE Michigan hitting hardest in the nearby community of Dexter. The video above was shot and recorded by a friend, during a break in some disc golf action. Being out on the course he, friends and other golfers were completely removed from the warnings, sirens and constant news attention by the local and regional media. What you see is live, raw, real and in the moment. What you get is almost 140,000 views in under 24 hours.
My friend quickly uploaded the video to his Youtube page where almost immediately local and national news sites were calling for interviews. He was on all 3 local news channels last night, CNN and featured on Good Morning America earlier this morning. All of this, for being in "the right place at the right time" with an iPhone.
So, what's the point, why am I telling you things you probably already know? Videos go viral, yes, yes we know. Well, take a closer look and maybe turn the volume up on the video and read some of the comments on his page. Because they were isolated from the horror of what was happening close in downtown Dexter, they were unaware of the storms damage and as noted, simply caught in a real moment. You hear people nervously laughing, kind of stunned at what they were watching before their eyes. People making jokes trying to keep the peace and sanity for everyone, in an obviously serious and scary situation.
Why is this a big deal you ask? One's effort to catch news live as it's happening has turned into some pretty serious negative feedback and almost all of the attention for capturing one of mother nature's most destructive and unforgiving phenomenons has gone viral in the negative way. One of the commenters on the Youtube page even went as far as to say, "Too bad the woman in this video laughing every five seconds in the background wasn't picked up and swept away..."
The point is, as we've seen, making a viral video for a small 15 seconds of fame good turn on you faster than you think. When using this in the business world, it's important to think about all ramifications before just uploading with fingers crossed that your video will be the next double rainbow. How will your video or campaign have a lasting effect on your business and your brand. We all want viral success and publicity, but at what cost does it become not worth it? That's a question only you can answer.
*In full disclosure, Matthew Altruda who filmed the video, is one of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County's biggest fans and supporters. He's a dear friend and a good person who's helped so many in the area. He called me minutes after the footage was captured and could barely speak he was in so much shock, still trying to catch his breath.