MEDIA COMPANIES THAT EMBRACE THE Web's community features can leverage an online fan base to build their show's audience, both online and on TV, panelists at the Digital Hollywood conference in New York said Wednesday.
Craig Engler, general manager of Sci-Fi.com, cited "Battlestar Galactica" as an example. One of the show's producers, Ron Moore, has a blog, answers questions from fans posted on the show's message boards, and produces commentary podcasts. According to Engler, the fans of the show respond by creating their own podcasts, posting more questions, and blogging on their own. "We're about giving fans a place to vent their enthusiasm," he said. "Web 2.0 is great for that--it's all the technology that lets our fans vent their enthusiasm to us."
Dave Panos, CEO of Pluck.com--a social media technology site that provides blogging and RSS tools to sites like TheStreet.com--said that avid users become brands' best promoters. "You want to take advantage of your best users, because they're your best evangelists," he said.
What's more, companies can use the most avid online fans to test-drive new products. Ken Goldstein, executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online, said that the Disney property Family.com was undergoing just such a test, which he described as 'an eternal beta.' "The process of testing is changing," he said. "You can get an application up pretty quickly, and get some feedback and change it."