Rights managment company ZEFR has officially jumped into the e-publishing game with the launch of “ZEFR’s Anatomy of a Fan” e-book. Well okay, at 11 pages it’s more of an e-pamphlet, but you get the idea.
Written to help companies better understand fan communities on YouTube and the web as a whole, the e-book details the science, culture, and even lingo of online fandom. Chapters like “Development of Language” go over the vocabulary of fan culture from “shipping” (approving of a fictional romance between two pop culture characters) to “haul” (the term used to describe the result of a beauty guru’s recent shopping spree).
“Anatomy of a Fan” explains that knowing the language of the web will help brands understand audiences better. The e-book details how “ship” videos, although containing different dream matchups, all employ a common language, style, and tone.
Of course, brands co-opting fan culture is almost a perfect cocktail for disaster (think McDonald’s promoting the “shipping” of Big Mac and fries, ugh). ZEFR, for its part, has thought on this potential disaster and addressed it in Chapter 3: “Fans like a minimally viable brand that they can imprint themselves onto rather than something fully formed that does not have room for them or their work,” writes “Anatomy of a Fan” author Meredith Levine.
This sentiment ties into ZEFR’s overall strategy of enabling fan communities rather than shutting them down, as many media brands are prone to do.
Overall, the e-book is a quick read for any brand looking to better understand its community. While I can’t see Warner Bros. signing off on Batman / Super man slashfic anytime soon, maybe “Anatomy of a Fan” will get some gears turning.