Fan Sites, Reinvented
In days of yore -- like five years ago -- I remember hearing people predict that in the future, every company, organization, brand, and celebrity would have their own social network, devoted just to them. With the rise of Facebook that prediction turned out to be, well, wrong… or did it?
The branded social network concept is getting a new lease on life thanks to celebrity fan sites that either aggregate other social networks in a distinct online hub or host bona fide, stand-alone social networks or “communities” (usually with integration of other social networks, of course).
The most recent entry comes from Ricki Lake, whose new talk show is scheduled to debut September 10 on Fox -- accompanied by a social network revolving around the show. The social network, created by YouToo, will allow fans to vote on polls, post comments, upload video (which may be featured on the show) and arrange social events. Users can tell each other if their content is going to appear on TV and provide feedback to the show about potential topics. Of course, the online presence also provides advertisers with another channel to reach highly engaged viewers.
On July 10, mistress of weirdness Lady Gaga formally unveiled littlemonsters.com, an online home for her millions of fans, which was created in collaboration with Backplane, a social media start-up that counts Gaga as one of its investors with a 20% stake.
The Gaga community -- which encourages users to “Share your passion and creativity in a community full of art, acceptance, monsters and Gaga” -- integrates Facebook and Twitter, but is also a network unto itself, with profiles hosted on the site alone (no Facebook or Twitter account needed). Fans can catch up on the latest Gaga news through a Pinterest-style interface, chat with each other, participate in online discussions, and buy tickets and Gaga-related merchandise, among other things.
Giving Gaga a run for her money in social media as well as theatrical weirdness, the rock band Kiss has created a “global social fan engagement platform” to promote its 40-city summer tour. The social hub, created by Ortsbo and hosted at www.kissonline.com, aggregates over 17 social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, and Vevo, with translation into 53 languages.
Rather like Gaga’s network, the site allows Kiss fans to share photos, video, text, tweets, links and purchase tickets and merchandise.