(Malcolm McLaren there, talking about “Anarchy In The UK”) (thanks Dubdobdee for correction!)
On first read through this post by Mike Arauz on Facebook Fanpages, I thought “obvious, but bears repeating”. Then I thought “Hmmm”. Then I realised that - for me - the really interesting bit of Mike’s argument is his intuition that what he calls “real fans” might be spitting mad at the newbie-tastic ease of Facebook fandom.
The tensions between fan or user strata - the committed and the fairweather; the lifelong and the glory-hunting; the veteran and the newbie - haven’t historically been of much concern to marketers or brands. A consumer is a consumer, after all. The brands where it mattered most were fashion, entertainment and sports - where consumers were constantly paying attention to one another and being first, or ahead of the game, or part of the real fandom was an important thing. And here’s where digital activity can exacerbate inter-fan stresses: Why are you ignoring the LJ community that’s loved you all these years and offering free stuff to all these facebook n00bs?
Now, it’s hard to imagine that mattering to a “fan” of BK or Coke or Persil. But there are other ways in which brands have been sorting and segmenting data-crunching their “fans” for a long time - inviting some onto loyalty programs, giving others better accounts or higher-level credit cards, and so on. These strata are as real - more real maybe - as the ones fans perceive for themselves, but have been effective partly because they’re opaque: you feel pleased to be a “Platinum Member”, but you’re not sure who else is or isn’t one, and you’re not even AWARE of the “Zirconium Members Program” next level up. What happens when that kind of information starts intersecting with online ‘fan’/customer communities? Maybe nothing, maybe something.
The point is that now we’re in an attention age, or a conversation age, or whatever you want to call it. Transparency is in, and the strata of fandom are some of the things that are more transparent. This matters because the intersection of attention and conversation is favouritism, and if there’s one thing a fan hates, it’s a snub.