Posted February 15, 2010 10:00 am by with 1 comment

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Watching video clips is a very popular pastime in the US and the rest of the world. Hey, it sure beats getting outside and taking a walk in that nasty fresh air. As a result of our obsession with this media there is some opportunity to do some real harm to a reputation if a group decided to do so. One such instance has made the F.D.I.C (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) take action because they claim a video making the viral rounds is just plain false. Whether it is or not may not be enough to fix the damage.

The New York Times reports

All week long, officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation watched with growing dismay as a YouTube video ricocheted around the Internet. In 4 minutes 26 seconds, the clip asserted that the agency’s sale last year of the assets of the failed bank IndyMac to a group of private investors was a sweetheart deal.

Finally, F.D.I.C. officials decided they had had enough.

“It is unfortunate but necessary to respond to blatantly false claims in a Web video that is being circulated” about the creation of OneWest Bank out of the assets of IndyMac, the agency’s chief spokesman, Andrew Gray, said in a written statement late Friday.

In the statement, he went on to say that the video “has no credibility” and was replete with “falsehoods.”

The video has since been taken down but there is another version currently on YouTube. Now from an online reputation monitoring perspective these two videos seem rather innocuous. The first had 7,667 views before it was taken down while the new video only has 139 views (at the time of this writing). So why is the FDIC in such a tizzy about a video with limited reach that is, according to them, chock full of lies? Would anyone have known about it or would it have spread more if they had just left it alone? Certainly having a story written in the New York Times and bringing it to the attention of people like myself can’t help. I can honestly say that I would not have had a clue about this video had it not been for the article in the NYT announcing the issue. Now I am helping to spread the video’s reach. In the ORM it is tricky to know when to let sleeping dogs lie. Now a video with no credibility may have the perception of credibility which is even worse.

The unusual statement by the F.D.I.C. was not only an effort at rumor control and a nod to the power of online media but also a defense of the agency at a time when Congress is contemplating a broad overhaul of financial regulations.

It was also the latest episode in the tangled afterlife of IndyMac Bancorp, which the government seized after a run on the bank in July 2008, in one of the largest bank failures ever.

It’s the “nod to the power of online media” that all marketers need to pay much closer attention to. The online reputation monitoring and management space is still somewhat “cottagey” (another made up blogger word). While there is a growing concern over what is being said and done online there is precious little activity to monitor it. As a result, the way that these matters are handled often turn into case studies regarding what not to do.

Ask Southwest Airlines how they feel today about the power of online media when an influencer in the social media space has an issue with their experience. Are you really paying attention to what is being said about you online? If you are, do have plans in place in case something gets out of control? Do you have plans to keep things from getting out of control? Have you ever stopped to consider the cost of a negative report, be it true or false, to your company?

If you have haven’t you are playing the marketer’s version of Russian roulette. As more and more people find out just how disruptive they can be online there are going to be more and more bullets in the chamber. That is unless of course you do something about it.