Think about that for a moment… In addition to the 300 million copies of her books, the five movies and DVD’s, the action figures, collector’s edition wands, costumes, boardgames, trading cards and the rest of the commemorative junk heap our pop culture creates for consumers to buy, Harry Potter fans so adore Joanne Kathleen Rowling’s stories and characters that they generate additional stories of their own…a LOT of them. A mere three websites–here, here, and here–accounted for seventy-five thousand fan-generated stories about Harry, Hermione and the rest of the Hogwarts gang. And that is far from a comprehensive number; it doesn’t begin to include fan-generated artwork, websites, videos or the other 3.37 million Google results returned for “Harry Potter Fan Fiction.”
Today’s technology empowers a participatory social culture. If we want our clients’ brands to thrive in today’s 24/7, show and tell world, we need to create brand stories consumers not only relate to and enjoy, but also want to share and customize. Just a few years ago, corporate lawyers would have pounced to squelch this type of activity; today smart brands try to foster its growth positively, and ideally profitably.
That’s where the magic lies.