Karl long has a great post about users of Nintendo's Wii game console system, and how the controllers are coming loose during the wild gestations that are required as games are played. The problem with the controllers is effectively converting the controllers into, as Karl states, a "plasma killing missle."
First of all, I haven't played the Wii, so I have no idea how easily this happens. And it may be that this is a very rare event.
But thanks to social media, one person's problems with a product are instantly communicated to the world. Already there are videos on YouTube that demonstrate the problem with the remotes, but there is even a site dedicated to the flaw, entitled WiiHaveaProblem.com. The site gives GRAPHIC detail of how Wii owners have damaged their belongings and each other, just by playing the Wii. And oh yes, there are pictures.
This is how social-media changes a company's marketing. In years past, a company with reports of product problems and damage resulting from customers using their product, may be inclined to take their time 'investigating' the problem, hoping that it is really an 'isolated incident' that will 'go away'.
No more. Today even if the problem IS an isolated incident, there can still be video evidence of the problem posted on the internet within minutes, and within hours a community will spring up around the problem. So while the problem may indeed be 'isolated', the damage to the brand will likely be anything but, and the longer a company takes to address the problem, the worse it gets. And even with a site such as WiiHaveaProblem.com, where most of the 'problems' seem to be coming from users' carelessness more so than defective products, the damage is still done. The mom that sees the picture of the woman with her eye swollen shut doesn't remember that it happened because her drunk boyfriend accidentally punched her in the eye while playing Zelda, the mother remembers that the injury occurred while the couple was playing with the Wii.
The community is using tools that makes them smarter and faster than you are. Ignore both at your own peril.
UPDATE: WiiHaveaProblem.com is reporting that some Wii users that had their remote strap break have been sent replacement remotes with a thicker strap. Also, there are already just under SIX MILLION Google results for the term 'wii have a problem'.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Nintendo Wii