Monthly Archives: September 2009

The value of online fandom

Written by: Digitally Approved
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This piece, written by Fanscape’s CEO, Larry Weintraub, appears on the front page of iMedia Connection. The piece addresses online fandom and asks the simple question: ‘If I were the customer, why would I care?”

Fanscape recently celebrated its 11th year in business. The fact that we’ve survived this long is indeed reason to celebrate; but honestly we’re more excited that most, if not all, of the brands that we’ve been explaining social media to for all these years have finally come around to understanding that it’s something they need.

I won’t lie; we didn’t call ourselves a social media marketing agency 11 years ago. We were an online music marketing company. Record companies hired us to market their bands on the internet. We ran online street teams that acted as conduits between fans and the musicians they worshiped. We empowered fans to help promote their favorite bands by giving them buddy icons, wallpapers, and links to stream music. They built fan sites on Geocities and Angelfire, and gossiped with others in message boards and chat rooms. It was social media via Web 1.0, pre-MySpace and Facebook.

The connection between fans and musicians had long been overlooked. A band was someone you saw on stage or on MTV, not someone who would actually respond to your letters. Fanscape closed that gap. At first it was relatively unknown bands like Simple Plan and The Calling, which gladly engaged their fans on message boards and recorded voice “thank you” email messages. But when those bands proved that engaging your fans can help you sell CDs and rise up the MTV TRL charts, then others joined in and soon megastars like Mariah Carey and Bon Jovi were filming web-based videos thanking their street teams for all their hard work.

Music campaigns led to movie and television campaigns, which led to brand and product campaigns. Nearly a thousand campaigns later, we’ve honed our craft and stayed ahead of the curve as the landscape continually evolves. But while the tools today are better, faster, and infinitely less expensive, the basic premise of social media remains the same:  Listen. Respond. Empower. Reward.

What is social media and digital word of mouth marketing?
The number one reason people buy something or try something is because someone they trust told them to. That’s word of mouth. The goal of a brand is to create a product that is so well received by its customer that they tell someone else about it, leading to increased sales. Meanwhile, the internet has evolved into a social environment where people share their thoughts openly with others who are eager to listen. Word-of-mouth companies help brands by facilitating digital conversations about their products through social networks, blogs, and online communities.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Posting photos can be such fun

Written by: Digitally Approved
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The past few months have brought on a spate of old/new photo posting sites that, simply put, have me practically in tears. These aren’t your photobucket or flickr type photo sharing sites mind you. These particular ones to which I refer are the creations of some terribly twisted minds, the kind of minds I adore.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share these little gems with you to help keep the humor pool alive and well.  So, without further adieu, for your viewing pleasure…

Dads in Short Shorts

Dads In Short Shorts

I'mma Let You Finish

I’mma Let You Finish

People of Walmart

People of Walmart

Don't Judge My Hair

Don’t Judge My Hair

Happiest People Ever

Happiest People Ever

Breaking News can be such a spoiler

Written by: Digitally Approved
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breaking news

If you’re anything like me, you like to have your finger on the pulse, including having news alerts that come to your email or your BlackBerry/iPhone. I tell you what, sometimes the advantage of having this technology is extremely beneficial and other times it’s a HUGE spoiler. Case in point, award shows and sporting events.

In addition to the ridiculous amount of subscriptions I have willfully signed up for (you know what’ I’m talking about Daily Candy, Thrillist and Perez), I subscribe to breaking news from the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly and E! and will tell you this, it’s very cool to be on top of all the really important information, such as world events, natural disasters, the death of an important figure, elections and the things that really shape our lives. I mean it was great to be constantly kept in the loop about the California wildfires considering it affected so many of us here in SoCal. But when I get breaking news alerts that give away the results of an award show or a sporting event that I have yet to see, I am not sure if I am more upset at the media outlet trying to get the ‘news’ out there or myself for being dumb enough to check my BlackBerry in the middle of a telecast.

I have noticed that this happens quite a bit in the world of professional tennis. With so many matches happening outside of the US, it makes it relatively difficult for those fans to catch them live, so they have to see them at a later time, recorded of course. The lengths these poor fans go to, to avoid the news is commendable. Now I am not a tennis fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I do appreciate the fact that those who are, would like to watch the given match before they get an alert telling them who won.

30-rock-emmys_l1

I’ll admit, award shows aren’t what they used to be, but I’m still hooked. In this regard, there is a distinct advantage of living in the Eastern Time Zone (or getting the East Coast feed), as all award broadcasts are live to tape and aired two to three hours later for those if us in any other area of the country. It would’ve been nice to find out that ‘Mad Men’ and ’30 Rock’ won in their respective categories as I was watching it on the broadcast, but no, I was drawn to that little flashing red light on my phone and had to see who was trying to contact me. Yep, you guessed it, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler. A simple solution to this would be for the alerts to read as follows; Breaking News: Spoiler Alert…. sparing me and anyone else who cares, from a needless bum out.

That, or I completely shut out the rest of the world until I get to see the results for myself. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

He Ain’t Messin’ with No Country Singer

Written by: Digitally Approved
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At Fanscape we create and monitor conversations about our clients that take place in the social media sphere. One of our clients, MTV, recently gained quite a bit of additional exposure as a result of its 2009 Video Music Awards, when a notoriously controversial Kanye West decided to steal the spotlight from one of MTV’s cherished up-and-coming artists, Taylor Swift.  Here’s a personal account of how social media and devoted music fans created a digital uproar during the awards show and the benefits, or consequences, of the immediacy of social media.

I found myself Sunday night with no television or adequate wireless connection to catch the MTV Video Music Awards.  It was a sad state of affairs, especially when I received a text message from my sister back east (consequently three hours ahead of me on Pacific Time).  The text read: “Omg, did you just see what Kanye did to Taylor Swift?!”  Although the VMA’s weren’t airing locally for a few more hours, I scampered to my laptop eager for a video clip.

I frantically logged into Facebook and Twitter to see if any of my friends had posted Kanye’s recent cringe worthy, PR nightmare moment.  There it was, on the Twitter trending topics and status updates: Kanye West had hijacked Taylor Swift’s acceptance of the Best Female Pop Video award and after taking her microphone, preached to the crowd that Beyoncé had in fact made the best video of all time with her “Single Ladies” nomination in the same category.  The backlash was instant.

Team Kanye never had a chance. Taylor Swift is a majorly successful country-pop singer with a passionate fan base.  Beyoncé, quick to adapt to this potential PR crisis, forfeited her stage time when she won Pop Video of the Year for “Single Ladies” and allowed Taylor her moment to shine.  Kanye was removed from the event and the night went on as planned.  All of this information was gathered strictly from Twitter and Facebook updates, and as I write this a few days after the original airing, Kanye West is still the second highest trending topic on Twitter.

After digesting one of the best moments in VMA history, I realized how much has changed since social media allowed viewers to create a universal conversation with friends and internet acquaintances.  Those of us on Pacific Time eagerly awaited our chance to see the VMAs, if only for the need to tweet about it ourselves.  There were many winners in this scenario: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé  and MTV.  Even Pink and Kelly Clarkson received excellent press for casting their Twitter and blog ballot for Team Taylor, instantly making them appeal as big sister types who look out for their own.

Kanye is clearly the loser in this situation, and since Sunday night he has released many apologies to Taylor, one of which she accepted on Tuesday’s The View.  Social media is still buzzing with Kanye, Taylor and Beyoncé comments and feedback.  To think there was a time when Kanye’s outburst would have been limited to the VMA viewers who happened not to walk into the kitchen for a snack during Taylor’s acceptance speech.  It’s a tribute to how quickly Taylor Swift’s fans defended her honor and will continue to do so with rabid purchasing of concert tickets and albums.

And who does Taylor Swift thank for her success?  Once Beyoncé gave her the chance to speak, she thanked “all of the fans on Twitter and MySpace.”  Looks like Taylor could show Kanye a thing or two about good PR.

The Socialization of Gaming

Written by: Digitally Approved
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The stereotype of the video gamer as a hapless loner cloistered in his parents’ basement is increasingly as antiquated as the floppy disk. Today’s gamers are social animals – whether they’re trash-talking friends over XBox Live, wasting time at work playing Mafia Wars on Facebook, or even passing the Wiimote around their retirement homes, no one games alone anymore.

Of course, this development is hardly accidental – every major gaming platform introduced since 2003, handhelds and consoles alike, includes a significant online component to permit gamers around the world to meet and play. Every day new games are released which take advantage of these fresh horizons in innovative new ways – LittleBigPlanet’s level creation tools, for instance, or Rock Band Network’s content distribution system. And as gaming hardware becomes as inseparable from the modern lifestyle as the cell phone or the microwave, social sites such as Facebook and YouTube have raced to support interaction and playback on devices such as the DSi and the Playstation 3.

Gamers, for their part, have responded to this industry push with great enthusiasm. Research indicates that gamers are more than 10% as likely to make use of social-networking sites during any given week – and the activity on pages such as Call of Duty 4’s XBox 360 Facebook Fan page (over 300,000 fans) or GameStop’s corporate Twitter account (nearly 17,000 followers) certainly bears this trend out.

But not all socialization takes place online. As anyone who’s ever played Wii Tennis in a room full of people can confirm, motion controls are every bit as significant a social component as XBox Live; people see other people playing and instantly want to join in. It’s also apparent from sales data that social gaming such as this can be just as much of a purchase-driver as social-media outreach, as best evidenced by the success of titles such as Mario Kart Wii or Wii Play. Small wonder that both Microsoft and Sony have announced that they’ve been working on making motion controls a central feature of the XBox 360 and the PS3 – both Project Natal and Playstation 3 Motion Controller are both scheduled to be released next year.

It’s becoming rapidly obvious that “gaming” (core and casual) as an activity is migrating from consoles to handhelds. This speaks to the increased socialization of gaming – not only are these devices multifunctional and web-integrated, but people are playing games around other people rather than ensconcing themselves in high-def nerd-caves. Furthermore, it’s proof that gaming has something for everyone and will continue to expand, as our appetite for social interaction through technology grows.

I Know I’m Ready for Some Football

Written by: Digitally Approved
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First and foremost, I must admit, I am a huge NFL junkie. Without exception, every year for the five months that follow the Superbowl, a little bit of me dies off. That and much to the excitement of my friends and family, my Sundays (and Monday nights) are free and clear. But come July when training camp starts and the pre-season gets going a few weeks later, my engine revs up and it’s like I’ve come alive in a whole new world. Don’t even get me started when the first “Are You Ready For Some Football” is uttered by Hank Williams Jr. I know, I know, as a female being such a big fan is not  very common; for that, I wear my NFL fandom and my team affiliation like a badge of honor.

In addition to going to games (which is an amazing experience in and of itself and I highly recommend it), hitting up your local sports bar to catch the games, or even having the posse over to check out Sunday Ticket to cheer on your boys, we live in a time where there’s an infinite amount of online choices for the football fan in all of us.

Of course there’s esteemed NFL.com and ESPN.com, where anything you want to know about any team, from stats to scores to game day analysis is just a click away. There’s Justin.tv for the fan that just can’t seem to ever get their favorite team on regular broadcast television. Additionally, there’s a ridiculous amount of team/player/fan sites (OchoCinco’s Twitter page anyone) and fantasy football leagues to further connect with players, dish dirt, smack talk and to fuel the rumor mills.

There’s also some of the funniest commercials and TV segments that you can imagine (and sometimes so bad they’re funny), starring our beloved NFL players. If you haven’t seen these, enjoy. You’re welcome. And get yourself ready for some football already!

The So Sad It’s Funny: NFL Players Mentor Troubled Detroit Lions (Thanks so much The Onion!)

The Just Plain Bad: Jake Delhomme is Bojangles’ Defender of the Fresh Biscuit

The Classic: Peyton Manning’s Saturday Night Live faux United Way Clip

Sites We Just Love

Written by: Digitally Approved
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I fully understand that the wheel is not being reinvented here, but if you ever wondered where we go for some of our daily web fixes, check out the following sites:

fanhouse_logo

AOL Fanhouse – for the sports geek in all of us.

logo_funnyordie

Funny or Die – Everyone needs a laugh, right?

mashable_logo_layer-1

Mashable – Such a great place to get your social media news and views.

techcrunch-logo

TechCrunch – All the reporting you need on gadgets, gizmos and the web.

Tumblr logo

Tumblr – As one of my co-workers so aptly described, “it’s like Twitter on ‘roids.”