100,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong

When you think “fans” you may not think “Yacht Racing!” but like NASCAR, international yacht racing has a scene all its own. The BMW ORACLE racing team has a team blog where they can keep fans, friends, and family near. The blog recently celebrated the 100,000th visitor writing:

We really have something to celebrate — in less than two years, and with just two months to the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the BMW ORACLE Racing Team has passed another milestone: the 100,000th visitor to the Team Blog. But it’s not just this figure that really puts a smile on our faces, it’s the incredible amount of positive feedback which we have received since the Blog was launched on 14th June 2005.

The huge wave of comments and reactions received over the last 18 months suggest that this special insider view helps to explain the popularity of the Blog. That’s what the comments have said about our unique online offer, frequently alongside the wish that there were more websites out there devoted to the America’s Cup. I am especially delighted to hear that kind of feedback as it shows we were right to go down this new road of online communications.

With the official Team Website and the Team Blog, we have been able to provide a much broader spectrum of information and enabled fans to really get up close and personal with the team.

Another good example of how centers of attention can connect with fans on a more personal level and enhance the fans’ sense of connection and (in this case) the team’s sense of fan support.

Book Fans Get A Widget of Their Own

Here’s an interesting effort to make books — you know those things with covers and pages inside and no bits or bytes included? — sexy to social networking kids. HarperCollins had announced:

an innovative campaign to promote titles online through its digital warehouse. The Browse Inside widget enables fans and authors to embed sample pages of their favorite books directly onto social networking sites and blogs, marking the first time a syndicated reader for books has been available online.

“The Browse Inside widget is the most recent marketing tool we have developed using the capabilities of our digital warehouse to market our titles to the MySpace generation online,” said Brian Murray, Group President, HarperCollins. “We are extending our reach beyond the HarperCollins site to where many potential book buyers visit – on social communities, blogs or author sites.”

The widget provides simple code that can be copied and placed on a profile or blog. Currently, the standard browsable sample pages that are available include the covers, front matter, back matter and first three pages of chapters one and two.

“The Browse Inside widget – when spread through online communities – is today’s equivalent of picking up a book off of a friend’s coffee table and glancing through it,” said Josh Kilmer-Purcell, New York Times bestselling author of I Am Not Myself These Days (Harper Perennial). “It’s my electronic calling card to online communities.”

To harken back to the Robinson study about time use I mentioned the other day, it does seem that internet users in general do read more than people who don’t use the internet, but whether the “MySpace generation” is yearning for a book widget, I don’t know, but I bet enough are to make it at least interesting. With the HUGE exception of fans writing fan fiction based on books (Harry Who?), and the odd blogger blogging books, it has always seemed to me that print publishing has not made good inroads into the online communities of internet users. The basic principles of going where the buyers are rather than waiting for them to come to you and giving the people already into what you do the tools to tell others about it in engaging ways is certainly right on, but whether this will be the viral electronic calling card they hope for or just a cute gizmo for a few die-hards remains to be seen.