YouTubeWith the proliferation of user generated media beginning to saturate sites like YouTube brands can’t count on control anymore. The question is what to do about it.

Real like a Heart Attack
Like it or not YouTube users create commercials for brand products every day in droves. The commercials, which are sometimes negative, bastardize and segment brands into little pieces that will keep you up late at night as 450,000 potential customers download the latest pro or con rant about your product.

Take this YouTube search for Chevy Truck which returns pages upon pages of user generated media about any twisted aspect of the brand. I like the video where an emotional male shares the experience of shepherding his truck over the 250K mile mark. Ask yourself how this ad might affect a potential Chevy customer.

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Compare this how Honda might feel about this video of a Honda Odyssey burning on the freeway. 

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The irony is that, in the anarchistic simplicity of user generated content, video in this context can still inspire an emotional response from the audience-hence the content’s viral nature. To the accomplished brand marketer this is either the best thing that every happened or the worst nightmare possible.

How to Handle YouTube
So now what should brand managers do about YouTube. Well, the first thing is to monitor it. Assign an employee to do daily or weekly direct brand searches of YouTube to see if anyone out there is expressing themselves in video regarding your brand.

If you find anything, either ugly or great, don’t be afraid to join into the debate in a respectful way. YouTube is a social community where people contact each other and interact. Corporate comments can be viral in nature too and everyone loves it when “corporate” weighs in.  As a word of caution, take the high road in the comments thread, check with your legal department, and think your reaction through before you hit the submit button. You can never get it back.

To close, consider creating your own homemade videos to post on YouTube regarding your brand. Brainstorm ways to communicate the equity of your brand in clever offbeat ways. Blendtec’s famous “Will it blend?” series is one of my favorites.

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