Fans as brand and content promoters: why letting people use your stuff is awesome
This was originally going to be a globalization/delight post, but then I realized that the thing I was going to write about was in fact a great example of a key point from my recent post on Youtube Vloggers as brand ambassadors about how fans are your best intermediaries and translators.
Take, for instance, this amazing post doing side-by-side screencap comparisons of the Japanese drama Hana Yori Dango and the popular US show Gossip Girl:
The entire post consists of dozen of these comparisons (by my rough estimate, totaling some 200+ meticulously captured stills), paired with incisive, witty commentary explaining just how these shows are similar.
What is striking is that the basic plotting, structures, themes, and characterizations in the two shows are not really that similar at all, once you get past the fact that both are about a troupe of obscenely wealthy, good-looking young people doing a lot of improbable things and sometimes attending — but not so much actually learning anything at — their elite private schools. But a fan of both shows is able to pick out the minute (and totally absurd) specifics — like the mean girls’ headband proclivities, shoe-related food drama, the fact that both shows have a psycho girl who likes to roofie people — to the deeper discourses that resonate between both shows that wouldn’t been picked up by casual viewing. Not only that, this particular fan engaged in an incredibly time-consuming and labor-intensive feat in order to share of of this in an effort to recruit more fans.
There’s a good chance that Gossip Girl producers would never have known about Hana Yori Dango fans, let alone anticipated them as potential fans for their own show. The same goes for the producers of Hana Yori Dango. But a quick glance at the comments show a number fans of one show vowing to start watching the other. In other words, because this particular fan understood both the shows and their audiences and the nature of how they engaged as fans, she was able to scaffold interest across the two groups by appropriating and reframing content from the shows.
The lesson learned here is a fairly simple one: give you fans the tools — access to content to remix and reuse — and they will help grow and spread your property into communities and audiences that you had never anticipated.