Archived Posts from this Category

Snakes on a Plane: The Community Ecosystem

With my brother in town for the weekend, Snakes on a Plane Day didn’t come until today. I have to admit, I was one of the many suckers that got pulled into the fan-created hype machine. The funny thing about hype machines is that they tend to be largely ineffective and at best short-lived when they’re run by the studio, yet can be incredibly effective when fans take over. I had no real interest in the movie when I first heard about it. Even when the blogs, Web sites, text messaging flash groups, and even fan created video, comics, and apparel started popping up, my enthusiasm rose only a minor amount.

But by  SoaP Day, I was completely excited to see the movie. What caused the bump in interest? Two things… the first was the SoaP voicemail. Being able to send hilarious voicemails to my friends was a ton of fun. The second was seeing Samuel L. Jackson on the Daily Show. It’s not often that you see actors having so much fun when doing the press tour. Fun seems to be the key to this entire adventure, and fun has moved SoaP into lead spot at the box office. My review of the movie? Fun, fun, fun. Even my wife had a good time.

You’ll notice that, despite the attention being heaped on the fan efforts, what really sparked my interest was a studio created Web design project, and an old school media spot. Does this mean that fan efforts are still largely irrelevant? Not at all.

If you look at how the process of this movie creation played out, you’ll see a big mix of fan and studio efforts. You had the lead actor posting messages on online forums about changing the title, which kicked off a flurry of fan discussion. Fans found fun in the concept and started to develop content…by the metric ton. The studio changed the marketing efforts for the movie in reaction to the new found fan enthusiasm. Fans were engaged and thus more willing to engage, to give feedback, to offer support in building buzz. The studio helped to encourage these efforts by running traditional marketing efforts.

Snakes on a Plane isn’t a story about the power of fan support. It’s not even a story about the pitfalls of movie making by committee. It’s a story about the ecosystem that can be created when an organization works with their end consumers to create something bigger than either group alone.

According to Wikipedia, “in general terms an ecological system can be thought of as an assemblage of organisms living together with their environment, functioning as a loose unit.”

When in balance, ecosystems are surprisingly robust, growth happens, species flourish, everyone grows. In terms of consumer interaction, this is what I talk about when my mantra “Everybody goes home happy”.

But when an ecosystem is thrown off balance, it can easily and quickly fall apart. This is what happens when marketers think of the fan community as nothing more than “free marketing”. This is what happens when fans forget that businesses need to make money in order to stay in business. In an “Community Ecosystem”, much of the burden for maintaining that balance falls to the marketer, whether than like it or not. Marketers have the budgets, they have the time, and they have the vested interest in ensuring that the ecosystem stays viable.

Will New Line continue to foster and support the ecosystem that has formed around SoaP? Will it help it flourish into something far more encompassing than one movie? We’ll see. But if they don’t, and if this ecosystem collapses, they’ll have only themselves and a lack of vision to blame.

Jake McKee | 8:15 am | No Comments Tags: Blogs , community , snakesonaplane , ecosystem , movies | Bookmark on | Digg It

Community as a Dating Relationship

A while back I was interviewed by John Winsor for his book Spark. He’s just posted the transcript on this blog, and it’s a fun read. Part 1 and part 2.

I thought I’d repost part of it here. I’ve never really talked about my “Community as a Dating Relationship” concept on the blog before, but trust me, in real life I talk about it all the time.

A Dating Relationship

What we really have here – when I talk about the relationship that I have with the fan groups and they have with me – is a dating relationship. If you show up on a date and you’re absolutely perfect, the person doesn’t think, ‘Wow, this is so great – he’s perfect!’ They think, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ Their defenses immediately go up and they assume you’re hiding something. When companies do that same thing you immediately think they’re just spinning it, that it’s just marketing crap and you don’t need to pay attention to it. But when you actually start to have an interaction with them, that back and forth, then you have a relationship.

Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good, but at the end of the day, as long as it’s more positive than negative, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what people really believe; that you’re not just messing with them, trying to get them to buy something.

Jake McKee | 8:29 pm | No Comments Tags: Blogs , community , spark , dating | Bookmark on | Digg It

Greatest Hits: Sense of Community vs. Community Belonging

More greatest hits content - the point made below was prompted by the discussion on how to define “community”.

When talking about “community”, we need to define what we’re really talking about.

Sense of community
Buying an iPod gives you a sense of community because you’re part of the overall iPod experience. But simply making the purchase of a G5 doesn’t make you a member of the local Apple User Group. Living in a certain local town gives you a sense of community, even if you never actually meet your neighbors.

Sense of community is certainly a powerful piece of the discussion, especially from a marketer’s standpoint.

Community Belonging
If you never do anything in a community, you may experience a sense of community, but you don’t actually belong to that community. Same goes for lurkers on a Web community. A person must be known by at least some part of the community in order for them to actually be part of said community, and this “being known” comes from some amount of participation.

Community Belonging drives much more than simply having a sense of community does. Belonging leads to wanting to recruit others as well - the holy grail for a marketer.

Jake McKee | 9:49 am | No Comments Tags: Blogs , communityguy , community , definition | Bookmark on | Digg It