How not to blog

Ok, give the guy some credit for trying to do right. Tim Story, director of the Fantastic Four sequel has got a blog on his MySpace page on which he’s trying to keep fans up to date on the filming and apparently getting ideas from them. But he’s also demonstrating a cardinal no-no of blogging: not posting. Since September 3rd there’s been one post, about 3 weeks ago. It was brief and apologized for not blogging more often.

I think this is a classic problem. Everyone suspects that blogging might be a good thing to do. Build fan commitment, generate buzz, all that. But blogging takes time and commitment. If you post once a month, people give up on checking in before long. Buzz doesn’t build, it fizzles. Are they better off doing nothing? Well, a regularly updated web site that doesn’t pretend to be a blog might be a better way to go about it. That way the same thing looks like a nice monthly effort to keep in touch instead of a failed effort to create an ongoing person-to-person relationship with fans.

I don’t mean to pick on Story, my point is that this happens all the time and it doesn’t have to if you understand the different expectations and requirements of different online venues, realistically assess what you have the resources to maintain, and pick the right one.

Taking down YouTube clips

I’m coming a little late to this party, but if you’ve missed it, PBS’s MediaShift has been the site of some very interesting discussion about the YouTube/Comedy Central break-up, make up, we weren’t really breaking up we’re still friends debacle/genius. It starts with Mark Glaser’s open letter to Stephen Colbert, which as of today was still stimulating a lively discussion in the comments regarding how much power Colbert has and what’s really going on, and continues in this post which transcribes Colbert’s response. Good reading on the economics and, since Colbert is involved, humor of the situation.

Fandom for all

A few weeks ago, JST, a student at the University of Pennsylvania wrote in the comments here:

I’m interested in how you write about fandom as a fairly common process, not just limited to the hardcore folks making filk music and writing fan-fic.

It’s a piece of feedback that’s been percolating in my head since I read it and I wanted to say something about that, especially since writing this blog has made me more aware of the fanfic and flik and “hardcore folks” fandoms.

I think the term “fandom” has to an extent been appropriated by those communities. They’re the ones who use the word “fandom” to describe their own activities (so for instance, I get hits to this blog because people are searching “Torchwood fandom”). In one comment about “rare fandoms,” makesmewannadie even referred to fanfic for people that are a “fandom of one.” Now, there’s a ton of really interesting stuff that goes on in this kind of fandom, and in some sense it’s a model or archetype of what online fandom can be, but JST is right about my take on it.

Fandom IS an everyday very common practice. It’s happening whenever people are using some element of pop culture as a locus for their own social organizing, whenever they’re taking something from pop culture and making it a piece of their own social identity. So, yeah, it’s much broader than sci fi, it’s much broader than fanfic, it’s much broader than the stuff that usually gets covered when people talk about “fandom.”

I’d like to see the term claimed by all of us who practice it, because then we’d realize that most of us are engaging in some form of fandom to some extent. We’d stop stigmatizing it as a symptom of having no life (never mind the rich lives of those who are ‘the hardcore folks’), and we might even recognize that what goes on in fandom is a mix of appreciation, consumption, and creativity that is interesting in its own right and that has tremendous power as a model for many practices outside of fandom. That’s why I think the social devotion to Trader Joe’s and matter, because it shows us that more and more the leisure-based socializing that happens online means that anything that can be consumed socially can spawn fandoms. It’s not simple to resolve the challenges of intellectual property, communication, and so on that online fandom raises, but anyone trying to develop an identity that people will feel loyal to and buy, whether they’re an entertainment purveyor, sporting franchise, or a brand of any another kind, needs to be paying attention.

Update: Jason Tocci picks the discussion back up on his blog here.

Getting sports fans engaged

Brandweek interviews David Katz head of Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! Studios, who discusses the importance of sports fans, particularly fantasy football players, to Yahoo! Sports, the most profitable sector of Yahoo!:

BW: What is the attraction for marketers looking to reach that audience?

DK: Since the beginning of sports on TV, there have been armchair quarterbacks who feel they know what to do better than the coach or general manager. But they had to wait for the newspaper, write down stats, recalculate info. It wasn’t efficient. The Internet changed that. The growth has been tremendous, and there’s still a lot of room for growth. The beauty for advertisers is that the fantasy audience is by far the most engaged audience on the Internet. And the NFL is the most important sport for online sites.

Meanwhile, over at the Sports Marketing blog, Pat Coyle notes that they have so many more lurkers than posters on sports fans forums and connects it to fans’ inclination to fan-watch:

We did a survey last season and asked our season ticket holders what they like to do before the games. A large percentage to out to eat, or tailgate; and many like to watch the players warm up, but by far the most popular thing to do before games is PEOPLE WATCH. Fans go to games to watch other fans in addition to watching players. That strikes me as oddly interesting. I can see living vicariously through the players, but I wonder why this fascination with watching other people?


Maybe I’m crazy. But at the very least, I believe we need to find more ways to get people to engage so that we can better understand who they are and what makes them tick. Knowing more about our fans will help us keep them as customers (consumers of our content) and help us develop better opportunities for our sponsors. We need to engage with our fans (and they with us) so that we can represent their QUALITY as much their QUANTITY to our sponsors. Currently, all I can tell a sponsor is the number of eyeballs viewing our screens.

It’s a long known fact that most people who read net forums won’t ever post, and most of those who do, will only do so once or twice while a tiny minority will dominate the discussion (something I wrote about way back in the early 90s and which has been found over and over again in many other studies). Connecting the dots, maybe one way to get more sports fans participating is to give them a way to play instead of just talk. But even so, I think ultimately we all have to just accept that we’re always going to have a lot more lurkers than posters.

Controlling your online image?

Sheena Metal offers tips for musicians about how to prevent your inappropriate after-party behavior from spoiling your image. Among them is this:

Monitor Your Websites And Web Communities—Again, better safe than sorry. It’s always a good idea to visit your forums, message boards, photo galleries, fan clubs, blogs and online communities to see what the latest scoop on your band is. It’s also wise to retain approval privilege on anything posted on each of your band sites. Let people post all of the drunken, naked pictures they want, and then pick and choose which images you want to represent your band. The same applies to comments and posts. Remember fans are important and priceless but it’s ultimately your image to preserve to the industry and the world and your web presence is how you represent yourself to everyone interested in you from fans to labels and everything in between.

Of course, monitoring is important but excuse me while I burst into gales of laughter at the idea that any artist is going to get to control the images of them that appear on the web. Sure, they can manage what gets posted on their official sites, but with all the cameras fans have and all the fan sites and flickrs out there, people are living in dream worlds if they think they get to choose which pictures of them appear online.

Simple fact: if you don’t want drunken womanizing idiot pictures of yourself on the web, don’t get drunk, womanize, and act like an idiot. After-the-fact erasure isn’t an option.