Why Media Creators Need To Pay Attention To Ecosystems. And Ponies.

Let me get this out of the way.  I am going to discuss how Apple's iCloud and Ecosystems, My Little Pony Fandom, and creating successful media come together.  I am not insane in any way you can prove, I just want to note that.

Now, where to begin while you search for the tranq gun . . .

As we've seen Apple is pretty much ahead in the Ecosystem race – creating a unified suite of technologies that are fast, interconnected, reliable, and universal.  The announcement about the iCloud is unsurprising – it's just another case of more utility, giving you access to your content anywhere.  Apple is giving us the ecosystem – everywhere all the time.

Everyone will follow suit (or perhaps, suite).  Amazon is obviously doing their own ecosystem and of course has EC2.  Other companies have, at least, the potential.

So, ecosystems.  All over, everywhere, omnipresent.  Do anything, anywhere, any time (more or less, we know there will bugs)

Now, let's turn to My Little Pony.

(Put the nets down, people).

This fandom, which I've often said "isn't so much a fandom as a science experiment" is big, active, and bold.  It churns out fan product constantly, from art to memes to music videos.  It's honestly one of the most dynamic fandoms I've seen in ages.  I easily credit this productivity with expanding it and keeping it going.

It's a fandom that persists on the ability to communicate and to create fan -product and interaction.  It's also a fandom that anyone would love to have for their media creation – loyal, enthusiastic, and buying things.  That heavy fan-creation/fan-interaction is doubtlessly part of it's magic – and potential.

Where am I going with this?  Simple:
1) A successful media product needs dedicated fans to support it and purchase it and peripheral goods.
2) Fandoms persist with communication, social media, and fan creativity.
3) Ecosystems are going to make fan-creation and fan involvement faster, more easily distributed, and more easily participated in.

So end result?  The insane popularity of My Little Pony shows the importance of fan involvement, and Ecosystems are gonna make that easier, and faster.

So you got a book, movie, comic, etc.?  Take advantage of what's coming because your competitors are going to.

Take advantage of the fact your fans can get involved faster by encouraging it with communities, emails, apps, and more.

Take advantage of fans making fan product and by not getting aggressive towards them unless absolutely needed.  In fact, with Ecosystems there will be more of it coming faster.

For that matter, set your fan product boundaries early and help out.  Meme-blanks, templates, mentioning videos, etc.  Expect it and assist it when you can.

Fandom is gonna get faster and ecosystems are going to do it.

If you're a writer or an artist or what have you watching the Herd of Bronies storm the internet and drooling?  Get moving.

Because if you want fans, they'll want to get moving too, and ecosystems will let it happen.

Steven Savage

Fear Of A Pony Planet

Let's face it, you've probably heard about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. If not, you've been missing one of the big new phenomenon on the Internet. Whether you're aware of it or not, I like to take time to explore it, because it tells us a lot about marketing, the Internet, and geekyness.

Yes.  My Little Pony.  The offspring of the merchandise-laden shows and toy lines of the past is hip.  Yes, I'm serious here.

I could go into a detailed analysis of how a remake of a classic merchandise–based cartoon became a hot and hip new thing but that's been done elsewhere: Check KnowYourMeme.com.

Instead let me summarize what I've found:

  • The merchandise-heavy property of the past gets revived, and Lauren Faust, the talented woman behind things like Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends redoes it.
  • The show is produced with good animation and a good voice cast.
  • Some criticism of it gets the show attention, as does Faust's witty and smart rebuttal.
  • it gets attention on 4chan.
  • It explodes across the internet as it's actually a pretty good show.

This is pretty interesting.  Yet, I am also afraid.  Not that my Christmas gift buying is going to be Ponycentric.  No, there's more.

My fear? Now, or in the future, some not–quite genius in marketing is going to look at this and try to duplicate. Needless to say, he or she will screw it up because they won't “get” just what happened.

Let's be honest, marketing is an odd profession to be in.  It's a mixture of research, psychology, luck, and strategy.  It's not predictable. It is, at times, filled with bullshit – and I know people in marketing who will agree entirely with that statement.  Though maybe they're bullshitting me.

So, let's be honest, would you trust a random marketing team to "get" the new My Little Pony Phenomena?  I wouldn't–with all due respect the people and know the work in marketing. I would dread to see what many marketing teams would do trying to understand 4chan or hip animation or the value of controversy.

I would admittedly be amused to see the disasters they'd probably create, but I'd also feel sad about it.  Kind of.  Anyway, it wouldn't be successful.

Let's be honest–unless you "get" a phenomena, marketing it and promoting it is often a shot in the dark. Sometimes I think many marketing efforts succeed just by outspending and carpet-bombing people mentally – and in the age of the internet that may be harder to do strategically.

This is why geeks like yourself are important.  This is why I want you to think of what you can do in marketing, or working with marketing if you're not in it.  Because you'll "get" it.  You'll understand, instinctively, what happened, what didn't, and how people's minds work – because you're a geek.

If you're in gaming, in media, in publishing, in anything remotely geeky, you're aware of not just your profession, but various geeky trends – since you're out there experiencing them.  You may just be the one to point out good ideas – or at least shoot down bad ones- because you really understand them.

You bought the games, saw the movie, or are watching the ponies.  You know the memes.

Maybe you can help out people in marketing.  For that matter, maybe you've got a good career there . . .

Steven Savage