Workplace blogs
Workplace blogs

Using Humor to Spread Your Message to Millions

Dave Carroll, he of the “United Breaks Guitars” viral video fame, is estimated to have touched 100 million different people worldwide through his story and viral videos singing about how United Airlines broke his guitar and then refused to make amends. I’ve written about this phenomenal story before, but having just recently heard Dave Carroll being interviewed, and upon hearing the numbers…100 million people, I thought an update was in order. 

To recap: Dave Carroll had a horrible customer service experience and he did what any one of YOUR customers now has the power to do: he let the world know through a hilarious song posted on You Tube. (Of course your irate customers might opt for Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, or they might create their own I HATE YOUR website.)

Dave Carroll’s epic customer service story is now being told at Harvard Business School as a case study. And it’s been turned into a new book called, naturally, United Breaks Guitars.

A big part of the effectiveness of Carroll’s customer viral rant was due to his fabulous use of humor, which helped his story go viral. In fact, studies that have compared the effectiveness of humorous social media campaigns to other social media customer service rants that were more angry in nature, found that the use of humor definitely helps spread a message faster and wider.

Here’s four simple lessons from this story:

1. Customer service matters more than ever. In the old days (like the 90’s) a person might rant to a handful of their closest friends whereas now they can reach the entire world!

2. Using outrageous humor in a creative way can help your message travel farther.

3. As customers a little humor can help all of us when we’re on the receiving end of horrible service.

4. The flip side is also true: delivering outrageously fabulous service with a mix of humor and creativity can help you attract positive worldwide attention and stand out from the herd!

Michael Kerr, December 2012,

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